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School CP - March 1997

Corpun file 00678


The Times, London, 8 March 1997

Judge blames EU [sic]** caning ban for juvenile crime

By Joanna Bale

A JUDGE attacked European Union** laws against corporal punishment and the rise in single-parent families yesterday as he sent two child arsonists to a secure unit.

The boys, aged ten and 13, set fire to a neighbour's house as they roamed a Dunstable council estate after being expelled from school. Sentencing them to two-and-a-half years' detention, Judge Rodwell, QC, said: "With the best intention in the world corporal punishment has been abolished and indeed that is a requirement of the EU. But this has resulted in an extremely unsatisfactory situation.

"Nobody wants children to be flogged, but it is no longer possible for a teacher to deal with a minor incident by a cuff round the ear or a smack on the hand, which is swift, something the child entirely understands and stops minor incidents escalating.>

"If the child does not respond to being told not to bring gin into school or beat his mates up the teacher has to go through discipline procedures. If the correct procedures are followed, a great deal of verbiage comes out which may satisfy the intelligent niceties of educationists but has no impact on a great number of children."

The judge also expressed concern over one-parent families, although he said no one could blame the boys' mothers, who were struggling to cope. "Both children come from homes where a father for a lot of the time was not present. It is often said that in single-parent homes children can be given as much love as they need, but that is not the entire answer."

Luton Crown Court had been told last month that the boys put paper through a neighbour's letterbox and tried to light it. Then a woman described by the judge as "the neighbour from hell" lent them a lighter. They kicked the door in and set a fire destroying everything the victims owned.

** [NOTE BY CF: A judge, of all people, ought to know that the European ruling referred to was nothing to do with the EU (European Union) but came from the European Court of Human Rights, an entirely separate body under the Council of Europe, set up to enforce the European Treaty on Human Rights, to which the UK signed up in 1952.]

Corpun file 00717


The Daily Telegraph, London, 19 March 1997

Way of the World

Punishment corner

By Auberon Waugh

AS FEWER children take any exercise, fewer are killed on the roads. In fact road deaths among young children have fallen by 34 per cent. Most people, I hope, would regard this as good news, but the British Medical Journal points out that this lack of exercise has produced a degree of obesity which will mean they risk dying in middle age from health problems. I don't suppose the threat will make them change their habits.

Elsewhere, we have read of children refusing to eat green vegetables. The new thing is to tell them they will catch cancer if they don't eat their greens, but that doesn't seem to work, either.

I do not know whether all this adds to the case for reintroducing corporal punishment in our schools, as recommended by Judge Daniel Rodwell QC at Luton Crown Court, or whether it detracts from it. The judge seemed to think it might discourage young children from harassing their neighbours and setting fire to their houses, but I am not so sure.

No other country in the world feels the need to cane its children. There is a robust school of thought which maintains that young Anglo-Saxon males are unique in requiring to be whipped, just as pekingese require to be brushed, ponies shod, etc., but I don't think it has any effect on their behaviour.

When my older son, who is now 33, was five years old, I told him that he should not refer to some white horses as "white". For some reason, they are always called grey. He fixed me with a steady gaze. "If I call a white horse white instead of grey, do I go to prison, or to hell?" he asked. There must be something to be said for the cane as a middle course.

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