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School CP - October 2001

Corpun file 8060 at

Otago Daily Times, Dunedin, 29 October 2001


Corporal punishment on occasions a good backstop

SOMEWHERE "violence begets violence" as an absolute statement contains a serious flaw. Corporal punishment in the main, in days gone by, was used for serious disruption and disobedience, both by parents and teachers.

As one who spent his primary school years during the Great Depression of the '30s, when classes were much larger (35-40 and more were common); when poverty and deprivation could have been used as an excuse, as it is now, the youth and general population were not violent. Those a little older than I were conscripted, trained in violence, sent to war and, in spite of this, were non-violent on their return, and they had all grown up under a corporal punishment regime.

There were few murders -- the ultimate in violence. In the 40 years (1935-75) murders averaged under four per year, while in the years 1986-96, after corporal punishment was phased out, nearly 40 murders per year.

Further, in those earlier days stompings, the use of knives, baseball bats, etc., were unheard of. There were some punch-ups, but always one-to-one with gang assaults non existent.

I readily admit that the more a parent or teacher can manage without punishment the better, but on occasions it is a good backstop and often the threat of it is sufficient.

I know of none who went through life with a serious chip on their shoulder resulting from corporal punishment.

P.D. O'Meeghan


[Abridged. - Ed.]

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