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School CP - November 2001

Corpun file 8144 at


The Times, London, 2 November 2001

Schools ask for legal right to bring back cane

By Glen Owen
Education Correspondent

AN INDEPENDENT school will go to court today to try to win the right to bring back the cane. The Christian Fellowship School in Liverpool is attempting to secure a judicial review of the Government's ban on corporal punishment.

mugshot of Phil WilliamsonPhil Williamson, the head teacher, who is representing an alliance of almost 50 independent schools in the High Court, will argue that the human rights of parents have been infringed because they cannot delegate the discipline of their children to a member of his staff.

In 1999 the Government passed the School Standards and Framework Act, which brought private schools into line with state schools, where beatings were banned in 1987. Teachers who administered corporal punishment were given warning that they would be placed on a list with other "abusers" deemed unfit to work with children. The school is seeking a review of that legislation under the Human Rights Act.

Last year, following a petition brought by families backing the reintroduction of corporal punishment, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the School Standards Act only banned teachers in independent schools from making their own decision to punish a child using physical force; it did not apply if parents gave their consent to the code of discipline.

"We are not aiming for a suppressive, draconian, Dickensian regime; we want children to feel secure when they come to school," Mr Williamson said. "It is really for parents to have the right to send their children to a school whose standards and values are the same as in their own home, and that would include corporal punishment."

He is seeking the right for his teachers to be able to smack younger children, whose parents have signed a consent form, on the hand or leg. He said children aged over 12 "could be smacked on the backside with something akin to a ruler, although it would be a bit wider, about three or four inches." Girls would not be exempt, but the punishment -- a smack with a strap on the hand -- would be administered by a female member of staff.

"It is not a big deal," he said. "There are no bruises, cuts or blood. Our parents can tell the difference between reasonable, moderate and loving discipline and child abuse, and so can we."

Mr Williamson, 57, who has run the 200-pupil school for more than 20 years, believes that the end of caning has contributed to the breakdown of discipline in society. "There's a moral crisis but nobody is coming up with solutions," he said. "I think it will work (if) parents and teachers work together.

"The big problem Mr Blair has is that he has not yet made the link between rising teenage violence and crime and non-discipline in schools. The argument always put to me is that if you handle children violently, and they call corporal discipline violent, you will produce a violent society. But corporal discipline has not been widely used in schools since 1987 and violent crime is rising.

"It is only Parliament that is out of sync with the population. As far as the Government is concerned, at present it is illegal and if we were to go ahead the school could be closed down and its teachers put on a list of child abusers."

Karen McGlynn, the mother of four children at the school aged between five and 15, said that she supported the action being taken by Mr Williamson. "One of the reasons we sent our children to the school in the first place was their stance on discipline.

"Corporal punishment should be there as a final deterrent, not the first action. It would be used in the context of a lot of love and care at the school. I know the staff and I trust them. It's about parental rights. People use emotive terms such as 'child abuse', but they should be reprimanded when the occasion demands it. Society was a lot better when you could do that."

Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Ltd.

blob [Picture of Phil Williamson from BBC News Online, 2 November]

Corpun file 8150 at


The Guardian, London, 3 November 2001

Christian schools ask for right to hit pupils

By Tania Branigan

Christian independent schools yesterday asked the high court in London for the right to smack their pupils on the biblical grounds that "the rod of correction imparts wisdom".

Press cuttingThe group of headteachers, teachers and parents believes that banning corporal punishment breaches parents' rights to practice their religion freely under the Human Rights Act.

Corporal punishment in independent schools was banned in 1999, 12 years after it was outlawed in state schools.

But John Friel, acting for the claimants, told Mr Justice Patrick Elias that the group "believe as part of their religious worship and part of their religious belief, that corporal punishment is part of their Christian doctrine".

He referred the judge to papers containing quotations from the Old Testament on the value of caning children. The Book of Proverbs 23:13 reads: "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to itself disgraces its mother."

He also cited 23:14: "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death."

Mr Friel also said that the ban was illogical when parents were legally allowed to delegate their right to physically discipline their children to other adults such as childminders.

The campaigners, led by Phil Williamson, headteacher of the Christian Fellowship School in Liverpool, are seeking a judicial review of the outright government ban.

Two years ago the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg agreed that there was nothing to prevent schools from smacking children with the approval of their parents.

Mr Williamson said outside court: "It is really for parents to have the right to send their children to a school whose standards and values are the same as in their own home."

The Christian Fellowship School charges fees of £1,920 a year and takes pupils between four and 16.

"We are noticing that our standards are being eroded slowly but surely," Mr Williamson said. "Since 1987, when corporal discipline was removed from state schools, standards have plummeted and it is reflected in the violence in our classrooms."

The headteacher stressed that the school would not cane children. "For younger pupils, we would smack them on the hand or leg using the teacher's hand. With older pupils, girls would be strapped on the hand by a lady teacher, and boys would be smacked on the backside with something akin to a ruler, but wider," he said.

"We have vast experience in using these means and our parents are perfectly happy in the way we have handled children. We have contented children, a secure atmosphere and no discipline problems at all.

"In the past we found that certainly with older pupils, we rarely had to administer [physical punishment]. It is definitely a deterrent."

Last year 85% of pupils taking GCSEs at the school achieved five or more A starred to C grades.

But an NSPCC spokesperson said: "Harking back to some Dickensian view of schooling is no way for a civilised society to treat its children."

The Department for Education and Employment is opposing the application, saying it represents a misunderstanding of the true purpose and nature of the Human Rights Act.

Judgment was reserved.

Sparing the rod

• Most western countries prohibit corporal punishment. The exceptions are the US, Canada and some states in Australia

• A ban imposed in all UK state schools in 1986 was extended to private schools in 1998

• Children are protected by law from corporal punishment, both at school and in the home, in Austria, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Croatia, Germany, Israel, Cyprus, Sweden and Denmark

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001

Corpun file 8149 at


The Observer, London, 4 November 2001

Scotland comment

The tawser's tawdry lesson

By Arnold Kemp

It has become fashionable for men of a certain age to disclose they were abused, sexually or otherwise, at school. But it was with some surprise that I read that the Edinburgh Academy, which I left in 1956, was described as the scene of a 'reign of terror' during that decade.

Indeed, the literary agent Giles Gordon said that had suffered 'terrible beatings'. His comments followed the assertion by the actor Iain Glen that he had been physically and sexually abused a decade later.

Now it is perfectly true that corporal punishment was in use at the academy at this time, as elsewhere. There was a master who had been a colonial administrator in India. Occasionally, transported by his memories, he would ask the class at large the absurd question: 'Have you ever shot snipe in a paddy field?' When a boy offended, he conducted a trial, no doubt as he had done many a time in his colonial salad days, and pronounced sentence. He then removed his jacket before delivering six of the best with a Lochgelly tawse. By this time the poor victim had usually been reduced to a cringeing wreck.

There was one boy, it is true, the son of a Scottish judge, who refused to accept his punishment. The master looked flabbergasted. But his bluff had been called and the matter was referred to the headmaster, with what outcome I know not -- perhaps a stroke or two of the cane (an instrument reserved for the headmaster and for really serious offences). The boy later became a policeman in Rhodesia. and rose in the ranks.

The tawse, of course, was entrenched in Scottish educational culture. The Lochgelly model, which dominated the market and was exported all over the empire, was cunningly designed in heavy leather to deliver the maximum pain. Its use was governed by official regulations. The wretched offender was made to stand in front of the class to maximise the deterrent effect. Inexperienced teachers were advised to hold the tawse a third of the way down, to maximise control, but their seniors were expected to swing it from the end to maximise the swipe.

When I suffered chastisement, the choice was of yet a different instrument. The academy devolved much of its disciplinary tasks on to the ephors (prefects), and I was twice convicted of minor infractions, the first for failing to wear my cap in the street, the second for declining to join a school run round Fettes (its grounds abutted our playing fields).

After a 'hearing', I suffered the traditional punishment. I placed my head below the ephors' table, thus elevating my derrière. An ephor, armed with a clachan (a wooden bat used in hailes, the shinty-type game played in the yards), ran across the room and delivered a resounding thwack. In a minor way, it was much like the bombing of Afghanistan: it did not reduce one's rebellious tendencies but rather increased them, and left me for the rest of my life with a vague suspicion of those in authority.

But of more serious abuse I knew nothing. True, there was a master with a dubious reputation who once sat beside me and patted my knee as I attempted a translation in the Latin class, but that was about the worst it got. There was certainly no reign of terror and the masters were on the whole humane and kindly. About the worst you could say of some was that they were cynical and indolent, but many were also dedicated and enthusiastic. Some were even true scholars, for whom, in the words of Flann O'Brien, waiting for the German verb was the ultimate thrill.

Corporal punishment is, of course, now illegal. But this is being challenged in the High Court, London, by a group of Christian independent schools. They argue that the ban infringes the human right of their pupils' parents to practise their religion freely, citing the passage from Proverbs which in essence says: 'Spare the rod and spoil the child.'

The developing law of human rights, however, does not deal in absolutes. The judges have developed the notion of 'complementarity' which means that one right has to be set against another. And the Bible, as we all know, can be made to prove almost anything. My grandfather, a godly minister in the Church of Scotland, would as he dispatched a toothsome slice of chicken invariably intone the mantra 'This bird did not live in vain', a reference, as I later came to understand, to that the passage in Genesis which says that the fowl in the air and the beasts in the field were put there for the use of man.

The Christian Fellowship School in Liverpool argued, further, that standards of behaviour had plummeted since the abolition of corporal punishment, leading to much more violence in the classroom. Yet it is also part of my schoolday memories that the masters who commanded the greatest respect, and could enforce silence with a twitch of an eyebrow, never lifted a hand in anger. Management scientists, I believe, call it sapiential authority, that ability to inspire respect not by rank but by innate qualities. All good teachers possess it.

For those who don't, the tawse, the clachan and the cane are poor substitutes, and they should be consigned to history. As André Gide said, 'Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore'.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2001

Corpun file 8141 at

BBC logo

BBC News Online, 5 November 2001

Talking Point

Corporal punishment: Is it a necessary part of schooling?

An independent Christian school, which wants teachers to have the right to smack unruly pupils, is taking its case to the High Court.

Head teacher, Phil Williamson, said schools had become more violent places and violent crime had escalated generally since corporal punishment was banned.

He said, "There is a punitive part to corporal punishment -- everyone has to learn there are consequences for breaking moral codes.

"But there's also a positive, corrective and training aspect to it because the children learn moral boundaries and take on moral codes."

Other disciplinary measures used by the school, such as suspension or expulsion, were not effective as they did not get to the root of the problem, he said.

Is corporal punishment a necessary part of schooling? Has the ban resulted in an increase in violence in schools? Or should such methods of discipline be resigned to the history books?

Forget the kids and go after the parents. If it's possible to put a soccer hooligan in detention on a Saturday afternoon why can't it be done to failing parents? Naming and shaming could have a part to play as well.
K Wilson, Australia

The Old Testament was written over 2500 years ago and reflects the values of the time. There is also a quote that it is okay to sell your eldest daughter into slavery.
Robert Parker, UK

I agree that since corporal punishment was stopped, there has been a marked growth in hooliganism and other crimes. Bring back both corporal punishment and national service, and thereby reduce this downward spiral into the morass of anarchy.
John Atkins, England

So now all these teachers want to take their frustrations out on the children. Let the teachers do a good job of teaching first. As far as unruly students are concerned, the roots lie elsewhere, with parents, society, and exposure to popular culture.
Vijay Rajanala, USA

This is a clear case of violent right wing Christian organisations abusing the human rights of the children in their care. Violence against children is unacceptable in a civilised society.
Mike, UK

It is all very well for parents to denounce corporal punishment in classrooms but until they have had to cope with a few out of control students who continually disrupt classes, I say be quiet. I was the recipient of several lashings in school in Scotland and I fully deserved them. One day, when the whole class was snickering upon my painful return to my desk, the light came on. I didn't care about the physical pain, there were ways to alleviate that, but it was the humiliation that was unbearable.

Suffice to say, I had a rapid turnaround. I ended up deputy head girl and knuckled down and did what I was supposed to do - study. School in England was a different proposition entirely. Boys received canings, girls received detention. This was a gross inequity that should not have been tolerated. I should point out that my parents fully endorsed corporal punishment because teachers were to be looked up to and obeyed, and what is wrong with that?
Di Stewart, USA

Before I had children, I always said that I would never smack them. How long did that last? Not very. Every single child in the world will misbehave at one time or another, and parents who do nothing are simply contributing to the ever growing hoard of mindless hooligans that are already murdering head masters, harassing old people in the streets and vandalising your and my property without thought of the consequences. It doesn't help that jail sentences are getting shorter either. How can we expect to become more civilised without punishment for wrong doers? It is more likely that chaos will ensue.
Karl, UK

The arguments both for & against corporal punishment in schools are very valid. But we cannot escape the fact that respect for authority has been breaking down for a number of years and is still getting worse. What are we going to do about it? It is a problem that will not go away and must be addressed.
Colin Mackay, UK

If you listen to what the guy was saying he wasn't even putting the emphasis on teachers defending themselves against violent pupils. It is one thing for a person to be able to defend themselves, it's another entirely for them to be legally allowed to enforce their "moral code" as he puts it, with violence. It's a form of, do as you are told and conform to my moral judgment, or I'll beat you with a stick. It is not constructive for children to be brainwashed, using violence, into one strict set of moral beliefs. Have you not seen the religious fundamentalism that is causing the current world crisis, lets give our own religious schools the power to use violence to enforce their religious moral views? I don't think so.
Drew, UK

I cannot quite believe that a Christian School is proposing this. Corporal Punishment is about physically hurting a child, do not try to pretend it is anything also than deliberately causing them pain. It has far more to do with releasing the anger and frustrations of the adult than teaching the child anything! How can any responsible adult think it is ok for a teacher to hit anyone, let alone the children in their care? How can they then expect children to understand that it is not ok to fight or to deliberately hurt others when that is exactly what their teachers and parents are condoning?
Caroline, UK

Wish-washy liberalism has stripped us of almost every option we have in disciplining our children. And then these same people tell us that the reason they kids are running amok is because we have no parenting skills". Rubbish! We're just not being allowed to use them.
Simon C., UK

In answer to Paul Fairhurst; if my child came home from school with cane marks, the first thing I would want to know is what crime had my child committed to deserve such punishment. Only once I knew that would I be able to judge whether anger at the school/teacher was justified. Can he also please explain to me what a teacher is supposed to do when confronted with a violent child who knows full well that if the teacher dare defend him/herself and should dare to slap the child then he/she will most definitely be up on criminal charges and more than likely lose their job?

It's fine to say that only parents should have the right to punish their children but let's be realistic a large minority don't. It would be wonderful to live in a society where all parents were perfect and we could rely on them teaching right from wrong but that certainly isn't the case. After twenty years of our liberal, politically correct vocal minority removing all the tools of discipline from most, if not all aspects of society, reintroducing caning in schools will not be a cure to all our problems but by God at least it's a start. Just to make it clear I am certainly opposed to the 'Beating' of children. However the shock of one or two strokes of the cane can sometimes be all that an unruly child needs to bring them back into line and this by all definitions of the word is not 'Beating'.
Simon, UK

I went to an all-boys Catholic school run solely by "Brothers" of the faith. Canings were a daily event in my school -- detention was used by the ones who didn't favour corporal punishment. As a father I would be angered to find cane marks on my child. What right does an adult have to strike a defenceless minor? Society needs to find another way to deal with unruly children in a civilised way.
Paul Fairhurst, UK


Moderate corporal punishment is acceptable. It has been an effective tool for disciplining children for centuries. People try to label it "uncivilised" in one breath and in the next breath they bemoan the lack of civility and respect towards adults and people with responsibility like teachers. There is a problem with discipline, but it is with that kind of woolly thinking, rather than with (moderate) corporal punishment.
Dave, UK ex-pat in France

It is certainly true that discipline in schools today is poor, and teachers have to spend too much time on controlling pupils and not enough teaching them. But corporal punishment is not going to resolve this problem. Persistently unruly, disruptive and anti-social children will not be deterred by the threat of caning.

In fact, it would give them a further opportunity to prove how hard they are by taking regular beatings and not giving in. It will polarise the combative, "Us against Them" attitude of such children, rather than encourage them to see teachers as being on their side. To ascribe the rise of violence in society to a lack of corporal punishment is ludicrous. The majority of acts of violence are committed by young men who have come from abusive homes. Putting legally sanctioned abuse into their schools as well can only reinforce the belief that violence is an acceptable means of behaviour.
Jim, England

As a child I was beaten once or twice for transgressions. It hurt and was embarrassing but I did learn from the experience. As a resource, it has to be available to teachers from the earliest age. This way the pupils know the possibility of punishment exists and so the majority never test those limits more than a few times. The most important principle however is that punishment should not be administered in anger but is a judicial reaction to an unacceptable action on the part of the pupil.

This may mean a period of cooling off with a scheduled time for the administration of the punishment. This gives a period for the teacher to reflect if the punishment is truly merited or seek advise from a more senior member of staff and it provide time for the pupil to reflect on his offence and consider if it is truly worth it. This technique doesn't work for all characters but I know it certainly did for me. As a parent of 3 I would give the school permission to smack my children if required.
Jon, Canada


If we look at the past when Britain still had an Empire you would find that corporal punishment was commonplace in schools. Would the great British leaders such as Disraeli, Palmerston, Churchill have achieved such greatness without the discipline instilled by corporal punishment?
Dave Jones, UK

For the benefit of all those respondents who have posted before reading the news article, the school is NOT talking about bringing back the cane or birch. They wish to be able to smack a pupil on the hand or legs in exceptional circumstances. This is hardly a return to Tom Browns Schooldays. Every school I went to reserved the right to use corporal punishment, I do not remember a single instance when it was used, it never had to be precisely BECAUSE we all knew it could be. The problem now is that some children know all too well that no-one can restrain them, they know the police cannot punish them, their teachers cannot punish them and in too many cases their parents won't punish them. What sort of punishment is being suspended from school for a child that doesn't want to be there in the first place? Children will always try to push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, it is natural, but if the boundaries are not there they will never learn to live within society. That will disadvantage them and everyone who has to deal with them for the rest of their lives. Now that's abuse.
Peter D, UK

Would you stop speeding if all the police were allowed to do was tell you off? Of course not -- you stop speeding because the police have actual power to prosecute you through the courts. Lets look at the education system -- the only prosecutions are of teachers accused (often incorrectly) of abuse. Lets give teachers back some respect and allow them to discipline our children if they do not follow reasonable rules laid down in the school. As a parent I for one would sign a consent form today -- at last parental choice in education!
Greg, UK

For those who decry the use of corporal punishment in schools I have only one question: have you had a twelve year-old wave a Stanley knife at you in the classroom?
Rob, UK

Quite a few times during my years at school I received six strokes with a cane. Afterwards one had to visit the school infirmary to check for cuts and bleeding. Did it do any good? No of course not. How could anyone have respect for an adult whose solution for any problem is violence?
Peter, Sweden

My behaviour at school was nothing other than exemplary, and yet I was belted two years running by a vindictive teacher for no apparent reason save her sheer malice. So, tell me -- how can that sort of abuse ever be justified just because one person, namely the pedant behind the desk, says so? It can't. Of course it can't. And that's why corporal punishment can never be justified, for so long as one teacher abuses the system of trust bestowed on them, then the whole idea of teachers being there to protect children goes out the window. No, there's enough abuse in society already, without letting teachers in on the act. No corporal punishment.
John McVey, Scotland

Corporal punishment works best when it is held as the ultimate deterrent, not used as a punishment for trivial offences. The cane should be reserved for things like bullying and all pupils should be aware in advance of what boundaries they have to cross to merit that sort of punishment. People here have said that it should not be part of a civilised society. I disagree: in a truly civilised society there would be no need to outlaw corporal (or even capital) punishment because people would behave themselves and abide by the law sufficiently that the punishment would never need to be used. But in our current society there is more emphasis on our right not to be punished than on our responsibility to behave properly.
Lee, U.K.

I was a failure at school. Not because I was stupid. Not because the teachers were poor. I failed because most of the children in my classes didn't want to learn. Many lessons were near riots -- because the teachers had no ultimate sanction against those kids. As a result I learned very little and had to wait until I reached adulthood before I could reach my full potential (First Class BSc).
Frank Hollis, UK

If I wish to punish my child by smacking then that is my prerogative as a parent. But there is no way I would allow another person to smack my child. What right do they have to make that kind of judgement call? To James and Sandra that said teachers should smack to instil a sense of discipline, I say to you that you are wrong. Discipline and respect should be taught in the home. If you are leaving this up to teachers through smacking then you should not be a parent.
Gareth, U.K

I totally agree with the Head's request. As the husband of a school teacher, I am increasingly concerned at the level of violence in schools, and the total impotence imposed upon the teachers. They are unable to punish effectively, unable to maintain discipline, control and order, and frequently unable to do their job -- which is teach -- because of the complete lack of respect of the pupils. If it wasn't for the fact that she is retiring from teaching soon, I would be strongly reticent to allow her to continue because of the potential personal dangers involved.

I had the cane when I was 10 for the heinous crime of "running down the corridor." I never did it again, and held the teacher responsible for administering the punishment in greater respect thereafter. It is only a matter of time when indiscipline in schools will result in an increase in crime (due to a lack of respect of authority) in the next generation.
James, Wales

Why should teachers have to put up with unsociable behaviour? If parents don't discipline the kids, who else is going to do it? Maybe if teachers were allowed to exert a little more physical control without the threat of being sued, we wouldn't have the lack of teachers that we do now.
Sandra, UK

It is about time this issue is being addressed. I have heard all sorts of 'experts' talk about why there are problems in our schools today and why so many teachers want to leave their profession. Teachers need to be respected by their pupils. Pupils need to know that they can push things only so far without the fear of being punished for their actions. Effective discipline trains the child to know what is right and what is unacceptable behaviour. This is true not only in school but in society as a whole.

If we fail to discipline by a smack or other physical punishment we fail the child and also society. The evidence of this is plainly seen in every school, even amongst Primary children. I believe most of us know this but don't want to believe it. We have been forced to 'experiment' with other methods of discipline but they have failed.
Colin Shelton, UK


Has the behaviour of children got any better since corporal punishment was banned from schools? Judging by the children I come into contact with, the answer is no. Reintroduce corporate [sic] punishment and instil a sense of discipline into children once more.
Martyn, UK

Here we go again, people not knowing (or refusing to accept) the difference between discipline that works and physical, torturous abuse. Why don't you take a step back and question why we are in the state we are in now within schools and society in general. Strict discipline is the only thing that is going to save this country from the mess created by do-gooding, pacifist liberals.
Dave, Manchester UK

I think there is nothing wrong with a short, sharp smack to the back of the leg. It's quick, effective and then over and done with. Better than the time consuming (for pupil and teacher) detention, ineffective suspension and expulsion which just put children on the streets. Incidentally, there has been no mention of caning -- people over-reacting as usual!
Catherine, GB

I believe a measured amount of corporal punishment is a good thing. After all, it doesn't take children long to realise that there is nothing to stop them running amok, and if they lean in that direction, they will do exactly that. The idea that severe physical pain can result from a deliberate misbehaviour would act as a powerful disincentive, much as it had done for generations past.
Chris Cowdery, UK

I am in the Upper Sixth Form. Since I was in Year 10 we have had talks of bringing back corporal punishment to British schools. But the key point is, the unspoken consensus among everyone at my school (which is not even particularly rough) is 'The day the teachers hit us, they give us the legal right to defend ourselves.' We outnumber them 15 to 1. Go figure.
Simon, UK

I ask those who reject this case as "uncivilised" to step inside a classroom for a week and see what it's like. Most of the correspondents with any connection to teaching are all for the success of this case. What does this tell us about the current teaching industry? It's in trouble because each and every kid is 100% aware that no teacher can make them do anything they don't want to do. And will quite happily tell you if you wish to argue.
Sam, N Ireland

Nice to see that once again a religious institution wishes to wind back cultural and social progression. The comments that suggest that teachers need corporal punishment to control unruly pupils misses the point. Why are those children unruly? Simply because many parents have no parenting skills whatsoever and thus they've 'ruined' the child by the time they're old enough to attend school.

Teachers are there to teach, to impart knowledge and the skills needed to obtain more knowledge and of course a love of learning, not to show the child how to be a decent civilised person. If they have to do that then it's arguable it's too late. Teachers don't want to be able to hit children, they want the parents to do their job and bring up the kids properly in the first place...
Stephen Davey, UK

Educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, I received the cane on several occasions. It hurt, but it wasn't the cane that got me through to A-levels and a university degree, it was the pressure to succeed and the quality of the teaching staff.
Joe Ryan, Paris, France

A small child will naturally hit out when frustrated or angry. Children are only human, and violence is an inherent human trait. What children need to learn is the hurtful affect their violence has, and often the only way to show them this is to smack back. The child then learns the unpleasant results of violence, and that bad behaviour does not go unpunished. Surely these are precepts we want our children to learn?
Sandy, Britain

Corporal punishment is needed, I remember sitting in class and waiting for the teacher to come back, one idiot in another class had hit the teacher and both of them had to go and sort it out -- two classes doing nothing, unable to continue because of the actions of one child.
Michael Pearce, UK

What about a police station that wanted the right to assault prisoners? Or a mental hospital that wanted to torture its inmates? Smacking children is a form of assault, and the idea that we should tolerate assault on children when we would be up in arms about similar assaults on adults is ludicrous.
Toby Jones, United Kingdom

This is nonsense...of course children have to learn boundaries, and that there will be penalties for crossing them, but you can do that in many ways. Hitting them only teaches them that violence is allowed if you break the rules. Obviously, this contradicts what parents and teachers have been trying to tell children for centuries: don't fight, or try to make a point by hitting someone. Now, what message are you giving young people about violence when adults hit children on a daily basis??? I really think those children will see violence as a way of solving arguments, because after all, grown-ups do it, don't they? This is bad...
W.Verheul, Netherlands

At my first boarding school we had corporal punishment. I always swore that I would never resort to violence towards children and we did get beaten for things that were relatively minor (not doing prep on time, not doing music practise etc.). However when I see how today's youth are I am inclined to think that perhaps we need this punishment back. Teachers have no support and parents are failing miserably in managing to instil values and morals into kids these days and then blame the teachers and schools for their own failings.

If parents are unwilling to discipline their kids then someone has to. I think however there should be strict guidelines. I was beaten one too many times for very minor things, nothing, which warranted the violence I suffered, however my headmaster was eventually taken to court for his use of corporal punishment as it was deemed excessive. Normally however, just the threat of being sent to the headmaster's office and being caned was enough to deter kids from breaking the rules, bring back corporal punishment and most kids will behave better just to avoid the threat. Sadly these days when a kid beaks the rule or even the law staff have no comeback to "yeah, well what you going to do about it?"
Sharon B, UK

How can bringing back the cane or the birch possibly get to the root of the problem? Surely the root causes lie in the home where it seems parents are not allowed to smack their children. It's a sorry state of affairs when we start talking about going back to Victorian times that we've spent the last 100 years rejecting. Maybe this "Christian" school would like to bring back witch hunting as well.
Jacky, UK

I would not like to see any person other than my wife or myself using corporal punishment on our daughter. If a school teacher needs to rely on it, it means the parents and the school have failed badly. Having teachers attempting to beat kids who pretty often are as tall and stronger than they are may lead to even more violence.

Also beating is not efficient. My father in law hated rugby and cross-country running. He would always hide in a tree instead of taking part and would be beaten at school every week. As he puts it "I prefer to be beaten a few times rather than finding myself in a pool of mud crushed by a pile of other students".
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)

Corpun file 8216 at


The Daily Telegraph, London, 16 November 2001

Christian schools' smacking plea fails

By Nick Britten

A JUDGE yesterday rejected a challenge by Christian schools to reinstate corporal punishment on the basis that it underpinned their religious beliefs.

The Christian Fellowship School in Liverpool, representing 40 small independent schools, said smacking was its "biblical mandate" and that by outlawing it the Government was preventing parents from expressing their faith.

But Mr Justice Elias said that upholding the ban on corporal punishment in schools did not infringe on parents' human rights or breach their rights to practise their religion.

Afterwards, Philip Williamson, the school's headmaster, criticised the judiciary and said that a lack of discipline had led to a "lawless state" in Britain.

Physical discipline in children was necessary to ensure they adhered to the moral code which played an "essential part in our Christian and Judaic ethic", he said.

A child who behaved badly or disobeyed its elders, despite being spoken to, deserved to be physically punished.

He said he had overseen a dramatic decline in standards since the ban on corporal punishment three years ago.

The judgment was the "final nail in the coffin as far as this country being a Christian one is concerned".

In his written judgment, released at Birmingham Crown Court, Mr Justice Elias said: "This legislation does not infringe the human rights of any of the claimants."

Because not all Christians believed in corporal punishment, it could not be considered an integral part of the religion, he said.

Peter Smith, Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said he was relieved at the outcome.

"We do not see how violent punishment, even in the form of a smack, would reduce the amount of aggression in schools," he said.

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