So it goes on, day after day, Each contributor with something to say. They leave their mark and are gone And so it goes on. (Tennyson) Kinky schoolteachers (Dirk Bogarde)

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The great Derbyshire debate

September 16 2003 at 11:58 PM

This thread will build over the next few weeks to bring you a series of letters culled from the Opinion column of that august and respectable publication the Derby Evening Telegraph. The letters were published between 1991 and 2002.

We begin with a missive from about 1991.

"Not All Bad ...
A retired schoolmistress, Alice Watson, wrote a letter in the Telegraph (Tuesday, December 4) regarding the behaviour of teenage schoolgirls.

This lady gave the impression that not only were most teenage girls badly behaved, but also they were never given any discipline.

As a 19-year-old girl, I do not agree with this at all. There are, I know, a few girls who do such things as smoke on buses, go around swearing and are cheeky to their parents; but these girls are definitely in the minority.

Sadly these naughty girls are the very ones who draw attention to themselves, while the majority of perfectly well-behaved teenage schoolgirls are almost unnoticed.

Regarding the point made about the lack of discipline of girls, I do not agree with this either. There are many teenage girls I know, some as old as 16, who even today have their bottoms smacked by their fathers if they do anything naughty.

Not all girls are treated like fragile china dolls, to use Alice Watson,s expression.
Tracy Draper, Kings Drive Littleover."

Don't worry folks - this may seem an inauspicious start but it gets better!

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The Great Derbyshire Debate 2

September 18 2003, 1:34 AM 

Tonight's postings consist of 3 letters from the early 1990's which I have not been able to place into a chronological sequence.

“With regard to the report that headteachers of 16 Derbyshire opt-out schools propose to turn away problem children (“Schools snub problem kids” Evening Telegraph December 7):
This move clearly reflects the lack of discipline that exists in school today.
Children can commit acts such as bullying, vandalism, truancy and smoking, without any fear of serious punishment.
Thirty years ago, in my schooldays, any one of these misdeeds would surely have resulted in a terrifying journey to our headmistress’ study.
The headmistress would then take either a gym slipper or cane, and give the naughty girl several whacks on her bottom.
This ensured there were no problem children in our school.
It is time now to bring back a small amount of corporal punishment in school to deal with serious offenders.
I was slippered on two occasions and it never did me any harm ( apart from the slight discomfort of a sore bottom).
Janet Watson
Wordsworth Avenue, Sinfin.”

“Smack Naughty Children early
The policy used over the last 10 years of not smacking children at home or at school, surely, has led to the appalling behaviour of children now.
Attacking teachers, the elderly, stealing from shops, breaking into pensioners’ houses, stealing cars, groups of them beating up their own class mates – they do it because they know no-one will punish them.
I think the people who think children shouldn’t be smacked should spend at least a day a week in a school and listen to children calmly tell the teacher that if they don’t want to work at sums etc they are not going to.
There is nothing the teacher can do about it. I have heard children say it.
A smack on the hand when they are little, when they do something they have been told not to do, works wonders.
Mrs.V.E.Tudor, Julian Prime Close, Alvaston”

DISCIPLINED WAYS: I agree with E J Foulds of Kegworth who wrote supporting the traditional and old-fashioned methods of teaching in schools.
One thing that is definitely lacking in schools today is sufficient discipline. Children can now commit acts of truancy, vandalism, smoking and bullying and they usually get away with little or no punishment. In my school days 30 years ago, all these were treated as serious offences and any child involved in them could expect to be dealt with severely.
The worst thing I ever did at school was to eat sweets during a lesson. For this minor offence I was given two stinging whacks of a gym slipper across my bottom. I was indeed thankful I had not committed a major offence, for which girls were given six of the slipper.
It is no wonder that children often behave today, when standards of discipline are so low.
P Clark, Grampian Way, Sinfin”


The Great Derbyshire Debate 3

September 18 2003, 6:52 PM 

The debate begins to hot up in January 1994, starting with this missive.
Recently in the Telegraph a few items have appeared concerning the corporal punishment of children at school, a practice that has now been abolished.
Thirty years ago however it was not just at school that children were frequently given corporal punishment, but also at home.
Most parents were much stricter than they are today, and would not hesitate to give a smack or a spanking to a naughty child.
My parents were certainly no exception. They kept an unwritten list of rules, and if my sister or myself did not abide by them, we could expect a good hiding.
If I misbehaved my mother would often say, ‘It is time Jean was taught a lesson’. My father would take me to my room, lay me across the bed, and then give my bottom a good tanning with his open hand.
I never received any corporal punishment at school, though several girls there were given the slipper, but I certainly made up for it at home. Up to the age of 16, I was given about 10 spankings on my bottom at home and my younger sister was treated likewise.
It certainly taught us to behave ourselves, and we were no worse for the experience.
Jean Clark, Willowcroft Road, Spondon.”


The Great Derbyshire Debate Part 4

September 19 2003, 9:21 PM 

From 1st February 1994.

SOAPBOX: Two contrasting views on the contentious subject of corporal punishment.

“Gentle touch sorted out problems
by ANGELA WILKINSON, Abercrombie Street, Chesterfield

With reference to the recent correspondence on the subject of corporal punishment for young people, it is noticeable that nearly all the writers end with the same comment: ‘It never did me any harm.’ Surely, however, the more important question is: did it do me any good?.

In my experience, this is not necessarily the case. My father died when I was 14 and when, a year later, my mother took up with a family friend, nine years younger than her, I became very rebellious. Although I liked him previously, I resented this man taking my father’s place so I started being deliberately disobedient and stealing.

My real father had given me a few spankings when I was younger, and these had always had the desired effect, so mother decided that this was what I needed now, and got Uncle Jack as I knew him, to oblige.

But of course it made no difference: I wasn’t stealing because I wanted the things, it was more a cry for attention. By the time I was 16 I’d become a ‘problem child’ and was receiving regular wallopings from Jack.

It became a kind of ritual: mother would send me to bed to ‘think about what I had done’ and about two hours later I’d be brought downstairs and given the same old lecture. Then Jack would put me across his knee, lift my nightdress, and spank me for several minutes with his hand or a slipper, before sending me back to bed.

Luckily, however, there was a teacher at school who took an interest in me (my school work was suffering too) and eventually solved the problem – not by punishment, but by talking – both to me and to my mother. So, while corporal punishment might not have done me any harm, it certainly did me no good.”

Carol Ashton of Bretton Avenue, Littleover, has other views on the subject:
“ In Tuesday’s Telegraph, Jean Clark wrote about the disciplining of children at home (Evening Telegraph, January 25). She remarked that 30 years ago on several occasions, her father had spanked her bottom for misbehaving.

How times change. A parent who gives a child a couple of smacks today is almost looked upon as a child beater who should be locked away.

My own experiences as a child in the 1970s were similar to those of Jean Clark. For committing minor offences my father would give me a sharp smack on my bottom and tell me to be a good girl.

For more serious offences my father would place me across his knee. Then with his open hand, or sometimes a slipper, he would give my bottom a real good tanning.

Children today are treated much too softly. It is no surprise that many of them frequently misbehave.”


Derbyshire Debate 5

September 20 2003, 1:54 PM 

Two more from early February 1994

“Slipper justified

On the subject of physical punishment for children (Letters February 1), I agree with Carol Ashton, of Littleover.

I believe a small amount of physical punishment being used is justified to raise the standard of discipline.

The punishment, though, should always be given on the bottom, the safest place; and should only be given with the open hand or slipper.
Debbie Hunt, Duffield”

Comment: a few days later another Debbie Hunt, also of Duffield, wrote in to say that she was not the Debbie Hunt who wrote this letter and didn’t agree with the views expressed. It demonstrates the possibility of fake letters given that the full address is never published on the letters page of the Derby Evening Telegraph.
The next letter is dated February 8th 1994.

SENSE OF SHAME: I would like to add my thoughts on the subject of corporal punishment

I believe that a lot of spanking, especially of daughters by fathers, is done to humiliate rather than to correct.

When I was 14 I used the word ‘bloody’ to my father while we were waiting in the bus queue in The Wardwick.

My father immediately lifted my dress, pulled down my knickers and spanked my bottom. This was done in front of several onlookers including some boys of my own age.

The deep sense of shame and humiliation I felt has lived with me ever since and I have found it difficult to establish relationships with men because of it.

The sight of girls being spanked at school always made me tense and fearful, and I for one am glad it has been abolished.
Name and Address supplied.”

Comment: The Wardwick is a busy street on the main bus route through Derby City Centre. Corporal punishment in Derbyshire schools (then including Derby City) was abolished in 1981.


the G D Debate 6

September 22 2003, 12:55 AM 

“Applying the Biblical rod:

There have been a lot of letters on corporal punishment with mixed feelings expressed. May I point to a Biblical truth from Proverbs Ch 22, v 15, which says:
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.
The rod of correction will drive it far from him.”
Whether people believe in the Scriptures or not, I am a committed Christian and believe that God’s word is sound and unchanging.
The formative years of a child – in those vital years of training – require the necessary corrective discipline and if these measures are applied with consistency in our homes and schools, from an early age, surely by the time the child has reached teenage years there would not be such a need! I do not advocate spanking teenagers.
It is clearly seen in our society that our children and young people are crying out for the right kind of discipline, and their rebellious acts are a result of their angry pleas.
If a spanking is applied with love and self-control, it will produce a thankful adult having been trained by it.
Mrs Elizabeth Dearle, Belper Lane, Belper.”

May I offer a few words of caution in the great spanking debate?
If corporal punishment is to be given to young women then it might have to be applied to young men too, otherwise there is a danger of breaching equal opportunities legislation.
Perhaps local authorities could draw up bylaws to provide for a local chastisement service.
Trained inspectors could monitor the procedures and publish annual reports.
The spanking should not be left to parents or teachers as they are obviously too closely involved in other ways with the wrongdoers.
Social workers would seem to be ideally suited to administer these punishments.
I believe they claim to be ‘gender neutral’ and could be relied upon to deliver this service in their customary caring and non-judgmental way.
P. Heselton, Foston.”

Comment: Not much to rouse the pubes this time, I fear, but thank goodness for a touch of humour.

48and a halfdavid

T G D D Part the 7th

September 22 2003, 9:59 PM 

A couple of years with no contributions on the topic except this isolated letter from October 17 1995.

“SOAPBOX: We won’t solve crime if we let Europe tell us how to punish our school-age yobs
Hit crime by thrashing pupils
D. Gutteridge, Corbel Close, Oakwood

It is high time we had the return of the birch.
In Liverpool some years ago there was an outbreak of muggings and handbag snatching. The late Mr Justice Oliver was sent to deal with this.
He sentenced every convicted hooligan to so many strokes of the ‘cat’.
He then announced that he would be coming back at the next assizes, and if there were any more of these cases he would double the number of strokes.
He duly arrived, but there were no more cases.
One may wonder why we do not have a return to corporal punishment in schools.
Apart from being a punishment it had a very valuable educational effect. If you transgressed the rules, you would be punished, and this lesson was learned by many youngsters at an early age.
At the moment all we seem to be doing is manufacturing, unrestrained, the criminals of the future, as crime statistics show.
Corporal punishment was stopped about eight years ago, following an edict, from the then European Court of Human Rights.
Very recently there was a vote in the House of Commons to restore this, but very few members attended, and the vote was naturally lost.
So much for the Government’s commitment to reducing crime. Why?
It is my very firm belief that due to the treacherous act of accepting that the British Government must now obey all laws made by the EC, this Government is unable to carry out the wishes of the electorate, which they were elected to do.
I do not foresee any improvement should any of the other main political parties be elected, as they are all willing to have us as serfs to the EC.
There will no doubt be other candidates who are much more far-seeing, and it will be those who can offer, honesty, truth, and untainted justice that I shall vote for.
They are the things I fought for.”

49&3/4 david

Part 8

September 23 2003, 7:49 PM 

We now come to January 1996, and the start of a vintage year in the Opinion column of the Derby Evening Telegraph.

I write regarding young joyriders of school age and the feeble, so-called punishments, that i feel are meted out to them.
Why can’t somebody, be it the schools or the parents (or both), properly punish young tearaways?
I know this is an old chestnut, but in my days at school had I done something as irresponsible as take someone else’s car then I’d have been hauled to the front of the class and put across the teacher’s knee, skirt up, for a good hard spanking. Or, if I’d been a boy, I’d have been bent over the desk and caned.
Then I’d have got the same again (only harder!) from father when I got home! And I’d never have done it again.
When will we realise that youngsters need firm discipline, not wishy-washy ‘punishments’ that don’t punish? It’s both for their sake and for ours, as it is to us who have to suffer the streets full of foul-mouthed, ill-mannered, undisciplined yobs that this so-called liberal society keeps on producing.
Mrs Margaret Haywood, Derby Road, Denby.”

Readers, please note that we will be hearing a lot more from this writer.


derbyshire Deeb8 8

September 24 2003, 8:07 PM 

Regarding the letter from Mrs Haywood (Letters, February 3), I do not believe that a teacher should be allowed to spank other people’s children, and there would be no need if parents did their job properly.
No canes or belts, but a good spanking or slippering applied firmly by the parent and with love, will solve most disciplinary problems.
Throughout our teens, my sister, brother and I were punished in this way. It wasn’t often necessary, but when it was our dad didn’t flinch from it.
I learned many important lessons across his lap, pants around my ankles and his slipper across my bottom.
It certainly taught me right from wrong.
These punishments were always followed by hugs and kisses (as well as tears) so no permanent harm was done – just a necessary lesson learned.
A. Roberts, Osmaston Park Road, Derby.”

At last a reference to hugging – Gillian should like this one! But as Donovan once asked
'Is it a boy or is it a girl?
Takes all sorts to make the world go round.'


The Grate Derbyshire Debeat Part 10 (I think)

September 25 2003, 7:55 PM 

From February 8th 1996.

Margaret Haywood wrote about the lack of discipline given to children these days, (Letters, February3). I agree with her remarks entirely.
In the mid-Seventies I attended a mixed grammar school in Essex.
One day I was caught chattering to another girl during morning assembly.
The teacher decided she would take me to see the headmaster, something that rarely happened to the girls.
The headmaster listened to the report of my misdeeds, and then he ordered me to remove my blazer and lean over the desk. Then, with a rubber slipper, I was given two whacks on my bottom.
Unfortunately for me I made the mistake of telling my parents that it had hardly hurt at all.
My mother therefore told my father to punish me. My father took me to my room, and with his open hand he gave my bottom a good tanning.
Today children misbehave and then expect to get away with it. It is time to bring back old-fashioned discipline.
Mary Roberts, Grampian Way, Sinfin.”

I must disagree with Mrs Haywood regarding corporal punishment for teenagers.
My school experience was similar to hers. I was in serious trouble only once, when I was caught cheating in a test.
I was put across the teacher’s knee in front of the whole class, my skirt lifted, and I was soundly spanked.
The experience was so humiliating, though, that it totally destroyed what little self-confidence I had.
On the other hand, there was a number of pupils, mostly boys, who were punished regularly and their behaviour never improved.
Indeed at break-times they would proudly display the cane marks on their bottoms which they looked on as a ‘badge of honour’ to show how tough they were!
So, while corporal punishment undoubtedly has some value, it cannot be seen as the only solution to the problem of juvenile indiscipline.
J. A. Williams, Snitterton Road, Matlock."

The first of these sounds like yet another from the Carol Ashton School of letter writing.



September 28 2003, 8:33 PM 

From Feb 96. Predictably confuses John and Chris Patten and the European Court of Human Rights with the European Commission.

“There has been the predictable outcry from those in the education profession against the plans by Chris Patten, the Education Secretary, for schools to be stricter. But has anyone taken a cool, impartial look at our schools recently.

In fact the only thing missing from the Patten plan is the decision not to re-introduce corporal punishment. The official reason for this is that the European Commission wouldn’t like it.

So what? Isn’t it about time we took control of our own affairs and told these Brussels pen-pushers to keep out of the internal affairs of our country?

It may seem brutal, but the fact is that corporal punishment works. Or rather, the threat of it does.

It isn’t a case of routinely flogging children. Far from it. The very fact that the slipper or cane exist as a last resort is a tremendous incentive for children to behave.

When I was at school, only 20 years ago, the threat was real. As a result, children at our school were generally well-behaved.

Everyone knew that bullying, truancy or whatever would lead to the culprit bending over the Headmistress’s desk, skirt raised, for a few whacks with a cane on the backside.

The fact was that the threat of this sanction alone was enough to ensure that it wasn’t needed often. In my entire school life, I only had the cane twice, once as a 10-year old junior schoolgirl and again as a teenager at my grammar school. Both were deserved and both were forever remembered, far more so than a detention, Saturday or otherwise.
Mrs G. Fuller, Shardlow Road, Alvaston.”


Part 12

September 30 2003, 8:18 PM 

Two more letters from February 1996

Humiliation is all part of the value of a good spanking!

To be effective, any punishment must cause some suffering to its recipient and ideally should fit not only the crime but also the criminal.

To a millionaire a parking fine is no punishment at all – but a good spanking certainly would be!

I vividly remember my sister’s 16th birthday, when I was 17. I was showing off to her friends by smoking and drinking.

When father caught me he put me across his knee and spanked my bare bottom in front of everybody.

It was the humiliation more than the pain that taught me never to do that again
Margaret Haywood, Derby Road, Denby.”

“Strap used at convent girls’ school
I write in response to the letters regarding the punishment of children. Thirty years ago one of the strictest places was a convent school.
In the second form there I once ran along a corridor and nearly collided with our headmistress. She took me to her study, placed me over her knee, and gave my bottom a really good slippering.
While in the fifth form another 15-year old girl and myself were caught smoking behind a tree. This was the most terrifying experience of my life. The headmistress ordered us to take off our skirts. Then to our horror, she took a leather strap, and we were each given four stinging strokes.
Karen Freeman, Springwood Drive, Oakwood, Derby.”


Derbyshire Part 13

October 2 2003, 12:53 AM 

From February 23rd 1996


Whatever the ‘never did me any harm’ may think’ (sic) I don’t believe that many teachers today want to see a return to corporal punishment.

Children today would react against it in a way they would not have done when I was young.

I have seen boys being spanked with their trousers and pants down and although girls were usually treated more circumspectly we always assumed that the teachers would have the right to take our knickers down – an always present fear since nobody told us it was forbidden.

These fears were doubled at secondary school even though canings were only given by the headmistress in her study.

The sense of shame at a caning was out of all proportion to the offence.

This sort of abuse is part and parcel of officially sanctioned corporal punishment and we should not return to it.

Discipline needs to be learnt in the home.
D Lester, Tamworth Road, Long Eaton.”


Part the 14th

October 2 2003, 8:07 PM 

Two from February 27th 1996

“Bullies stay bullies unless chastised
I personally am not in favour of brutal or persistent physical punishment of children, and I do not think it is necessary in teaching right from wrong.
For the past four weeks, my husband and I have been caring for my eight-year old daughter, who has suffered a broken arm.
The little boy who threw her onto the playground, simply because she was in his way when he was chasing around, was kept in at playtimes during that week as his punishment.
My point is that while teachers are not allowed to use corporal punishment as a last resort.
Their hands are tied, and bullies and unruly children are not deterred by empty threats.
I also feel very sorry for these undisciplined children as I think they are being failed by their parents, their schools and society itself.
If when they do wrong it is ignored, they will continue to do wrong until eventually they do something so bad that it lands them in trouble with the courts.
We must be strong enough as adults to stand up to the bullies, for their own good, otherwise it is we, the adults, who are responsible for cases like that of the murdered headmaster or little Jamie Bulger.
Pat Barnes, Nesfield Close, Alvaston”

“Spanked ‘til I cried
I read with interest your recent letters on the disciplining of children. Most children today probably do not appreciate just how strictly youngsters were treated a few decades ago.
I was a girl in the early Sixties. If I misbehaved my father would place me firmly across his knee, and my bottom was smacked ‘til I was crying.
My sister was treated in the same way. We were punished in this way until we reached the age of 17.
Children are fortunate that strict discipline is now a thing of the past.
Maureen Cooper, Uttoxeter Road, Mickleover.”

Comment: The first letter writer is one of the few so far who appears in the telephone book and can be guaranteed genuine. The second one is yet another identikit letter of the ‘Over father’s knee we would go’ variety.


Part 15

October 2 2003, 8:30 PM 


“Nightmare of school spanking rituals

I am glad to see some sanity from anti-spankers after all the pro-spanking letters of the last few weeks.

I can remember some nightmare times at school.

Teachers who underwent a sharp change of mood when about to inflict punishment and creating an atmosphere of terror; bitter resentment of one particular master who exposed girls’ bottoms by hitching up the back of their knickers before a spanking and who hit children so hard they wet themselves; being unable to concentrate on school work for fear of being dealt with in the same way.

I had greater respect for those teachers who avoided the cane or used it only sparingly.

We should be aware of the sexual aspects of this form of punishment.

Loads of pornography is devoted to it.

Don’t give back to teachers, and certainly not male ones, the right to spank our children.
Mrs G. Thorpe, Belper.”

“School was tougher then
Karen Freeman wrote (Letters, February 21) about how strict it was at convent schools 30 years ago.
At all schools in those days discipline was much stricter than it is now.
Today’s children would scarcely believe some of the rules that had to be adhered to.
At my school, girls were forbidden to wear jewellery or make up, and skirts had to be well below the knees.
One day my friend Jean forgot the rules and wore a small brooch. Our eagle-eyed headmistress spotted the jewellery and took Jean to her study.
After a lecture on disobedience my friend was given a few resounding strokes on her bottom with a slipper.
It was much tougher at school in those days.
Wendy Naylor, Ladybank Road, Mickleover.”

“Mum pulled down pants
In my opinion, both parents and teachers, in partnership, should be responsible for disciplining wayward teenagers.
This was the system at my secondary school on Rhodesia. All serious offences were punished by the headmaster with parents being invited to attend.
When we were 17, my sister and I were caught playing truant and were called to the head’s study.
It was like a courtroom with the head, his secretary, our form teachers and our parents present.
I was bent over the desk and my mother pulled down my trousers and pants for the head to cane me. Girls were rarely caned, so my sister was put across the head’s knee and her bare bottom thrashed with a plimsoll.
With parents being present, such punishments were doubly effective.
I.V.Howson, Birchover Way, Allestree.”

Comment. There really is a Birchover Way in Derby named after a Derbyshire village in the Peak District. However, like many of the streets in which correspondents supposedly live, it is a very long road and therefore less easy to check whether it is a genuine resident, given no number is published. There is no Howson in the phone book at that address.

PS As well as Birchover there is also a Spanker Lane in Derbyshire. It has a pub called until recently "The Spanker". The first time I went past there was a depiction on the Inn Sign of a mediaeval beating scene. This has been replaced over the years by pictures of a vintage racing car, a yacht and a whippet, and now its name has changed to something else which I forget. Perhaps they were plagued by fetishists!


Part 16

October 3 2003, 8:41 PM 

And on into March 1996.

I note with interest the recent letters calling for the reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools to stem the rising tide of juvenile delinquency.
In my opinion, though, such punishments do nothing to change a person’s attitude. At my school, corporal punishment was common and was generally administered in front of the class; boys were bent over the desk and caned, and girls, although occasionally caned, were more usually punished over the teacher’s knee, by hand or slipper.
It was noticeable, however, that it was the same group of pupils being punished time and time again – indeed, many would openly boast about the number of times they had been caned – and these pupils’ behaviour never improved as a result of their beatings.
As for the non-delinquent majority, corporal punishment was admittedly a deterrent (I, myself received one spanking for writing on the wall, and never did it again), but I am convinced that other methods would have been equally effective.
If there is a place for corporal punishment then it is in the home, as it is there that young people’s attitudes are formed but in the cold impersonal environment of school it is, in my view, more likely to be counter-productive.
Mrs S. Bishop, Thanet Street, Clay Cross.”


Part 17

October 4 2003, 1:14 PM 

From Tuesday March 19th 1996


Mrs Thorpe (Letters, March 7) has encouraged me to share with you what is still a rather private matter, and not easy to air in public.

However, some of the letters you have published on the question of spanking seem rather trite – and in one or two cases dishonest.

I have never known any woman who thought that humiliation was an apt way of punishing girls, as suggested by one of your readers.

One day at junior school I pulled another girl’s hair during a PT lesson and I was sent to the head’s study wearing just my vest and knickers.

I was made to take my knickers off and lie across his knee with his hand on my crotch.

The head explained this by saying that if I wetted myself he would stop.

Oddly enough I was not especially upset by the experience. I was expecting to be punished, as I had behaved spitefully.

The smacking I got was not severe and I had no strong hang-ups about nakedness at such a young age.

Yet, unconsciously, I must have felt there was something not quite right about what happened, as I never told my friends or my family about it.

The head retired shortly afterwards with his good reputation intact and is now dead and I see no neeed to name the school.

But I can conjure up the image of the nine-year-old girl I was then, standing vulnerable and shivering in just my vest in front of a man I trusted enough to obey his orders.

When I do this, I see now how much child abuse depends upon the complicity of children with figures of authority, whether teacher or parent.

Many accounts of sex abuse are coming to the surface nowadays.

To judge from some of your letters quite a bit of it is still to be uncovered from the time when corporal punishment was allowed in our schools.

I am quite clear spanking has nothing to contribute to good discipline in young people.

Name and address supplied.”


The Great Derbyshire Debate Part 18

October 6 2003, 1:05 AM 

From late March 1996


I went to school in Sutton before the war.

Mr Sparkes used to smack our bottoms with a ruler. We had to stand with our pinafores and petticoats over our heads and our drawers pulled down round our ankles.

The boys could see everything. There was nothing we could do. I am glad my granddaughters don’t have to go through all that.

Mrs Elsie Sadler, Cotmanhay Road, Ilkeston”

Comment: Presumably the Sutton referred to is Sutton in Ashfield, a few miles north of Ilkeston. This is rare in having a place and a name of a teacher.


Part 19

October 8 2003, 7:26 PM 

A last letter from March 1996


Several years ago I had the dubious distinction of being the very last girl at our school to be given corporal punishment.
This happened less than a month before I left school at the age of 16. I had scratched my initials on a table in the school hall.
I was made to lean over the back of a chair in the headmaster’s study.
After being in this undignified position for a minute, the headmaster took a cane and, with the school secretary watching, gave me three strokes on my bottom.
I am glad children no longer have to endure treatment such as this.
It was the most terrifying experience of my life.
Margaret Thomson, Rowditch Avenue, Derby”

The next batch of correspondence starts in October 1996 with these 2 letters.

We would like to put some practical common sense into your debate on corporal punishment.
Firstly, punishment, of whatever nature, should never be a “first resort”, but should only be applied when reasoning and discussion have failed to convey the required message.
Secondly, any punishment, corporal or otherwise, must cause some discomfort if it is to be effective. This discomfort might be a financial penalty, a loss of free-time, or physical pain; which is chosen will depend on the personality of the offender and the nature of the offence.
The parents, or teachers acting in loco parentis, must be free to make this choice unfettered by rules forced upon them by any pressure group which has gained a temporary political ascendancy. (sic)
Thirdly, it is nonsense to suggest that corporal punishment leads children to believe that physical violence is an acceptable way to solve adult problems. By the same argument, a withdrawal of pocket money will cause a child to grow up believing that taking his adversary’s money will solve any disagreement!
Fourthly, all punishments must be subject to rules to prevent their abuse.
Nobody would complain about a naughty child being sent to bed early with no supper – but we would all be outraged if he were confined to his room for a month without food!
Similarly with corporal punishment we are not advocating severe beatings done in anger or frustration, but carefully considered punishments, usually consisting of a firm spanking, with hand or slipper, across a parent’s knee.
Canes or straps, which avoid the level of physical contact which some might feel inappropriate, should be available in schools as an ultimate deterrent.
S.Benton, Association for the Retention of Corporal Punishment Option,
PO Box 23, Ripley”

“Many letters have recently been printed concerning the control and punishment of children.
Nearly 40 years ago, as a 15-year-old girl, I skipped a lesson at school and went home early. The headmaster made me lean over the back of a chair, and he gave my bottom two strokes of the cane.
About six months later I was disobedient and then very rude to my mother. My father placed me firmly over his knee and gave my bottom a sound spanking.
Although both these episodes were extremely painful, I am in favour of corporal punishment since they helped to teach me right from wrong.
Mary Cunningham, Carlton Road, Derby”

How do
you stop
these items
er and


The great Derbyshire Debate Part 20

October 12 2003, 11:48 PM 

Three contributions from old hands all on 23rd October 1996

Mrs Tudor is in the phone book – the other 2 are not.

Regarding the current debate on the reintroduction of caning in schools, I don’t think that this would lead to any improvement in the behaviour of young people.
Surely it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children are well behaved, and it is here that corporal punishment can have lasting value. Up to the age of about 18, whenever I or my sister or brother misbehaved, we were put across our father’s knee and our bare bottoms soundly spanked or slippered. These punishments were seldom required, but always had the desired effect in terms of improved behaviour and, because we were properly disciplined at home, we never caused trouble at school.
I believe that corporal punishment is a valuable disciplinary technique in a loving home environment but has no place in our school.
Mrs A. Roberts, Osmaston Park Road, Derby.”

Ah … so she was a girl - and those pants(see thread Part 8 ) were knickers!

“I think parents and teachers should be allowed to administer a smack to badly behaved children.
I don’t remember any children attacking the teachers when I was at school.
We all knew that rudeness and disruption in classromms meant caning at school, and smacking at home. Parents always backed the teacher then because they were respected members of the community.
More and more teachers are being attacked because the children know they can get away with it these days.
Anyone who has the slightest knowledge knows very well that shouting at them and keeping them in doesn’t have the slightest effect on them, but a sharp short smack hurts and makes them think.
Mrs V.E.Tudor, Lilian Prime Close, Alvaston”

“The re-introduction of caning in schools is an excellent idea!
At my school, any pupil guilty of the kind of disrespectful, yobbish behaviour so commonplace today would have been punished immediately – in front of the class. Boys would normally be bent over and caned, whereas girls were more likely to be put across the teacher’s knee and spanked, with hand or plimsoll.
More serious offences would mean a visit to the headmaster – and almost certainly the cane. I would like to see not only canings, but also classroom spankings re-introduced as the combination of pain and shame proved most effective.
Mrs Margaret Haywood, Derby Road, Denby.”

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