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Reformatory CP - May 1981

Corpun file 9313 at


The Times, London, 20 May 1981

Caning of girls 'worse than in last century'

By Pat Healy
Social Services Correspondent

Girls in care in Leicestershire are subject to more severe caning than would have been allowed in either nineteenth century workhouses or the old approved schools, the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment said yesterday.

cuttingAnother 38 authorities were ignoring Government advice that corporal punishment should be banned in community homes.

The persistence of physical punishment in some community homes was disclosed by the society after a survey of 130 local social service authorities. The society yesterday urged Mr Patrick Jenkin, Secretary of State for Social Services, to ban all corporal punishment of children in care, in line with the recommendations of a recent circular issued with ministerial approval.

"It is an intolerable blot on the reputation of a civilized society that children in care, who are already deprived of the security of a normal family environment, should be subjected to institutionalized beatings. Many of these youngsters have been taken into care because they have been battered by their own parents," the society said in a letter to Mr Jenkin.

The survey found that three English counties were allowing girls in care to be caned, but two have since changed their policy.

In Nottinghamshire, the new Labour administration sent out a letter last week banning corporal punishment of all kinds in community homes, and that decision is expected to be ratified at a social services committee meeting on June 10. In Northumberland, the policy of allowing the caning of girls was abandoned on April 29, although caning of boys continues.

But the policy of allowing girls to be caned was confirmed in Leicestershire last month. The county's regulations state that such caning must be on the buttocks, whereas the previous approved school rules allowed girls to be caned on the hand only.

Mr P.W. Naylor, assistant director of Leicestershire's care branch, said it applied to girls in two observation and assessment centres, and one community home with education on the premises.

A circular sent out in January by the Department of Health and Social Security defined corporal punishment as "physical assault by staff on a child as punishment." It was not compatible with the principles on which control and discipline in community homes should be based, and should be banned, it said.

The circular also said that under no circumstances should corporal punishment be administered to girls.

Of the 108 authorities which responded to the survey, 68 banned all forms of corporal punishment, 20 allowed "smacking", 15 allowed caning and five allowed some form of unspecified corporal punishment.

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