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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.”


The Great Derbyshire Debate Part 21

October 19 2003, 6:50 PM 

No less than 5 letters from 29th October 1996 under the banner headline; LETTERS SPECIAL: SHOULD BADLY BEHAVED CHILDREN GET THE CANE?

It is lamentable that the writers of the three letters published on October 23 advocating the corporal punishment of children all seem to believe discipline can only be achieved through the adult use of physical violence as a method of control.
I would suggest such applications of pain and fear are highly inappropriate, usually being unchecked responses from angry adults where milder approaches and more positive measures of guidance would be significantly more effective in changing a youngster’s undesirable behaviour.
Corporal punishment can, and should, be avoided at all times, in the home and school environments. Such aggression is surely a bad example to set children, being incompatible with any ideas of a community based on mutual respect and care for the welfare of an individual – and evidence suggests child rearing heavily dependent on corporal punishment produces children who respond to situations with violence.
Many misdeeds at school, destructiveness, bullying and truancy are indicative of problems for which pupils need support and help in identifying and overcoming. The degradation of a punitive, physical assault often results in greater alienation and may provoke more hostility against authority resulting in on-going anti-social behaviour.
In countries where corporal punishment is not in use anarchy does not reign. The more constructive methods of socialising children are time consuming and may require considerable effort by family and education systems which themselves are today subjected to a variety of stresses. Nevertheless, children are entitled to be treated appropriately and with consideration.
B Pattison, Chestnut Close, Duffield”

“In the October 23 letters, three readers, all female, wrote in favour of giving corporal punishment to naughty children.
Although I am in agreement, I believe such punishment should be given in moderation, and never as harshly as in my childhood 30 years ago.
My own experience illustrates just how strict discipline was in the early Sixties.
Another girl, Susan, and I were caught eating sweets in an English lesson. The next morning in assembly we were ordered to report to our headmaster. We stood terrified outside his study not knowing what to expect.
Eventually, we were called inside and we admitted our offence.
Then to our horror and amazement the headmaster took a gym slipper out of a drawer.
With the school secretary watching, we leaned over a desk and our bottoms were given a real good tanning. We both yelled and left clutching the seats of our skirts.
I hope children are never treated so strictly again for such a trivial offence.
Maureen Carter, Palmerston Street, Derby”

“I believe that caning should be reintroduced into schools as it is an extremely effective punishment.
When I was at secondary school my main problem was smoking (like most kids, young and old, I thought it made me look big).
I was in constant trouble over this and had in fact received several spankings from my parents – and even a good slippering across a teacher’s knee.
None of this did any good, though, so eventually I was called to the headmaster’s study.
He gave me a long, stern lecture, while his cane lay threatening on the desk. Finally I was told to bend over, and the school secretary lifted my skirt and pulled up my knickers to bare my bottom-cheeks.
I was given four strokes, and whether it was the pain, which was considerable, or the severe, chilling atmosphere of the caning I don’t know – but I never did smoke again.
Angela Chadwick, Chesterfield”

“Regarding the correspondence about bringing back caning in schools, I think it might be a good idea, but would need to be carefully controlled. At my school, corporal punishment was used indiscriminately by many teachers. I was in trouble only once for cheating in a test when I was 15. For this I was put across the (male) teacher’s knee, my skirt lifted, and I was soundly spanked in front of the whole class - a punishment which far outweighed my crime. So there must be strict rules about when corporal punishment can be used and it mustn’t be the decision of one teacher only.
Julie Williams, Snitterton Road, Matlock”

“In my opinion, discipline of young people is best achieved by a partnership of parents and teachers.

At my school (which was in Rhodesia but the principle is the same), corporal punishment was carried out by a master and parents were expected to attend. Indeed, when we were 17, I and my sister were punished for truancy and it was our mother who pulled down our pants for the cane (or plimsoll in my sister’s case) to be administered to our bare bottoms, as would have been the case at home.

This method made parents take an active role in the disciplining of their children which was beneficial to all parties concerned.
J V Howson, Birchover Way, Allestree”


Part 22

October 21 2003, 12:14 AM 

An even larger batch of 7 letters from early November 1996 under the general heading of

“Working together to solve problems
Your current correspondence on school discipline asks the question: are parents or teachers to blame? As a headmaster, I would say that both parties would be to blame and deemed to have failed if we were to return to the dark days of caning.
In school, pupils should expect to work in an environment which is both stimulating and meaningful, with clear expectations and rules, the latter in conjunction with equally stated punishments.
Distinguishing between punishment and correction, with the accent on correction is crucial. Mete out too much punishment and it loses its significance. Reasoned persuasion must be the way. It is slower and it is more painstaking but ultimately it is more effective.
For that effectiveness to work ‘partnership’ must be the key word, a shared responsibility for discipline between parents, pupils and teachers. That principle, interestingly, is increasingly coming into the debate at national level. After all, no school has access to its pupils for more than 16 per cent of the year. It must be appropriate for parents to instil discipline for the rest of the year.
With parents and teachers providing reciprocal support through mutual understanding, the dialogue moves much more quickly towards ‘responsibilities’ rather than ‘roghts’. Only then will we make progress.
Roger Waller, Headmaster, Derby Independent Grammar School For Boys.”

“There’s been many letters about using the cane in classrooms for discipline. It was used in the old days and it didn’t do any ahrm.
I can remember St Anne’s Boys School in Leyland Street. The headmaster was Mr Timms, known to the boys as Dickie, and I don’t think anybody could have been more strict.
He used to walk through the classrooms in the mornings rubbing his hands together.
If he called your name you would jump like a jack in the box. He didn’t spare the rod either. When you ahd the cane he made sure it landed on your finger tips then you had to put your fingers in your mouth to ease the pain.
Despite all this it didn’t do any harm.
Ernie Woodrow, Sherwin Street, Derby.”

“On the subject of corporal punishment. If we agree that punishment is sometimes necessary, then the question is simply, what kind of punishment should be used?
A fact which many of the anti-caning brigade fail to appreciate is that if it is to work as a deterrent, a punishment MUST cause some genuine suffering to its recipient.
What is the current ultimate deterrent to a schoolboy considering playing truant? Exclusion from classes? Brilliant – that’s just what he wants!
If, on the other hand, he knew that the inevitable result would be a session in the headmaster’s study, bent over the desk with his pants round his ankles for six stripes to be laid across his backside, then I’m sure he’d think twice!
During my schooldays I took that risk only once – and duly collected my ‘six of the best’. I never played truant again.
Margaret Haywood, Derby Road, Denby”

“I give top marks to Gillian Shepherd for courageously expressing her personal view in favour of reinstating caning in state schools, but ‘six of the best’ for that wimpish John Major for snubbing her by taking the opposite view. The cane was discontinued 10 years ago and since then there has been a steady deterioration in discipline.
My vote in the next election would definitely be given to any party with the guts and courage to reinstate corporal punishment in state schools, on a level with private schools, before anarchy prevails.
Mrs M C Davies, Main Road, Brailsford.”

“Why are your correspondents so convinced about corporal punishment for school children (Derby Telegraph, October 29). None of their comments offer any practical help to the teacher in the classroom.
How can the disruptive behaviour of a small number of children be prevented from holding back the educational progress of their classmates?
This question may be more difficult to answer than some of your readers suppose. Perhaps teachers, parents and school governors should first seek a clearer definition of the problem.
Then some progress might be made towards its solution. The endless exchanges between the tough, and tender hearted, cheerleaders on the sidelines, could then move on to other more entertaining contests.
Paul Heselton, Malthouse Lane, Foston, Derbyshire.”

“Here we go again in the great spanking debate. I cannot believe some of the people who have written in are for real in their views, especially those who support spanking teenage girls on their bare bottoms.
My father used to punish me this way, but as I grew older I used to dread the prospect of it happening whenever I did something he found fault with. I hated having my tights and knickers pulled down. While spankings were effective when I was younger they only made me resentful in my teens.
Corporal punishment was banned in schools because the European Court comsidered it degrading. I think most teenage girls would agree. If they must be spanked (and there are other ways of disciplining them) then let them keep their knickers up.
Jackie Rowe, Alvaston”

“Spare the rod and spoil the child.
Mrs Sheilah Upton, Stonehill Road, Derby.”


Derbyshire 23

October 22 2003, 7:41 PM 

We move into late November 1996 with another Derby Evening Telegraph “LETTERS SPECIAL: READERS CONTINUE THE PUNISHMENT DEBATE” bumper crop.

Your discussion on corporal punishment interests anyone raised in the 1950s on the method advocated in Colonel Ford Thomson’s influential child-rearing manual, Ask The Children.
Under Thomson’s system, my four step-sisters and I each had our own “Child’s Law”, a written parent-child contract classifying all conceivable sins into five categories, and specifying the degree of corporal punishment applicable to each.
Thomson’s manual suggested (for 12-year-olds): one stroke with the back of the hairbrush for slight offences; three strokes for half-medium; six for medium and eight for serious.
Very serious offences merited between six and 12 strokes of the cane, parent and child agreeing in advance what precise cane-dosage was appropriate to the nature of the offence.
Very serious offences always included any lying to evade punishment or get a sibling into trouble, and any failure immediately to obey a parental command accompanied by a pre-determined code-word.
A persistently committed offence might, for greater deterrence, be moved up a category or two.
Our conduct records were examined, and any necessary punishment inflicted, at individual weekly “law” sessions, my stepmother (a district nurse) presiding over my “court”, and my father (a schoolmaster) over my stepsisters’.
The system was discontinued after my 18th birthday, but was applied to my step-sisters until they turned 19.
It provided an absolutely secure and disciplined framework for our childhood and youth.
It would be interesting to know if any of your readers had Thomsonian parents or guardians, and whether the 1950-published manual is still available.
If it were, maybe the current debate over caning in schools might be unnecessary!
Ted Baker, Frythe Close, Knowle Hill, Kenilworth.”

And now 3 more writers we’ve heard before…

“When it came to discipline in my home it was my mother who got most angry, but father administered the punishments. If dad wasn’t home, then any of us who misbehaved was sent to bed to await his arrival – and the wait was almost as bad as the spanking itself!
When dad finally came home, mother brought the offender downstairs where, after a stern lecture, she (or he, of course) was put across dad’s knee and her bare bottom given a really hard spanking or slippering until mum decided she’d learnt her lesson and told dad to stop.
These punishments were rarely needed (I had seven such spankings up to the age of 18) but invariably led to a dramatic improvement in the behaviour of all of us.
Alison Roberts, Osmaston Park Road, Derby”

“At our house it was definitely mother who ruled the roost. She was at home all day and so had to try to control two hyperactive kids who later became rebellious teenagers, before finally maturing into (in my opinion!) responsible adults.
During the long school, and later college, holidays this was no easy task.
She’d try to reason with us, of course, but when this didn’t work it was: “Right! Upstairs and get your pants down!”
There would follow a very uncomfortable few minutes across her lap getting a good slippering.
Father was much more reluctant to punish us, especially my sister, and, apart from a few spankings, he normally acted on only the most serious offences.
Then he would give us the strap, which was very painful and an excellent deterrent!
J V Howson, Birchover Way, Allestree.”

“I think mothers these days have to be stricter because men always want their kids to look on them as the nice guys, and so are far too soft.
Certainly, whenever our children needed spanking it was left to me to do it – as it was with most other unpleasant parental duties.
When I was young, though, fathers took their disciplinary duties much more seriously.
Like most of my friends, I was spanked far more often by my father than my mother. After the age of 18 my mother, supervised by my father, gave me what further spankings were needed – and there were just three before I left home at 23.
So if women are more strict, it’s because weak fathers force them to be.
Angela Chadwick, Old Hall Road, Brampton.”

There were a few later responses to Ted Baker’s letter from other people who remembered the manual which unfortunately I have not kept. And that is the last of 1996 and the next time we will be into 1997.


Derbyshire Part 24

October 24 2003, 7:38 PM 

We come back to the topic on July 15th 1997 with an article on modern methods in schools sparking this reply

In last Friday’s Telegraph (A Disciplined Approach), an account was given of traditional discipline at a Sinfin School. Children who misbehave are given points against them, and on reaching a certain number are excluded from school.
This is certainly not traditional discipline. In my school days, a few decades ago, children were never allowed to misbehave a few times before being punished.
Usually, on the very first occasion, a naughty child would be sent to see the headmaster or headmistress.
A few minutes later the child would emerge from the study with an extremely sore bottom.
I misbehaved three times at school, and despite being a girl, was slapped on all three occasions. This is what is meant by traditional discipline.
Maureen Thompson, Madison Avenue, Chaddesden.”


Part 25

October 27 2003, 11:51 PM 

From 22nd July 1997

Maureen Thompson wrote (Opinion, last Tuesday) about ‘traditional’ school discipline – but does traditional necessarily mean better? I. too, was brought up in the era of corporal punishment and, in common with most of my friends, I was spanked on a number of occasions – including a fearful slippering on my bare bottom that cured me of smoking for all time!
It was the same at home, of course, and I was often soundly spanked for any misbehaviour.
The youth of today, though, are not nearly so subservient as we were and so different methods are needed. Can you imagine a teacher today putting a fully grown 16-year-old across his knee to stop her from smoking? Of course not!
So instead of harking back to the “good old days”, I think that we should congratulate Sinfin School for at least making a serious effort to instil discipline into today’s unruly children.
Janet Cooper, Alfreton Road, Blackwell.”


part the 26th

October 28 2003, 10:38 PM 

July 28th 1997 and another missive from the great Margaret Haywood!

Regarding Janet Cooper’s letter in last Tuesday’s Telegraph about school discipline: She states that “traditional” methods (i.e. corporal punishment) won’t work with today’s unruly teenagers. Well, the “modern” methods obviously don’t work either!
The ultimate sanction available seems to be excluding the problem children from school – in other words giving them a licence to run around town stealing and terrorising ordinary people; often the exact offences for which they are being “punished”!
I well remember at my school when three senior girls were bullying my sister, a short session bent over the headmaster’s desk, “knickers down” for the ringleader, for six strokes of the cane – administered in front of my sister to enhance the effect – quickly solved the problem. I doubt very much if exclusion from school would have been so effective.
Margaret Haywood, Derby Road, Denby”

Lotta Nonsense

Re: part the 26th

October 29 2003, 6:50 AM 

The main difference between being excluded from school and being caned on the bum by the headmaster is that girls were (and still are) sometimes excluded from school but it has never been policy for girls to be caned on the bum by the headmaster in a British school.

History leaves us in little doubt that any headmaster found to have caned a girl's bum would have lost his job immediately and, if the bum had been bare, he would have received a prison sentence.

'Margaret Haywood' (whoever he or she is) is a fantasist.


The great debate part 27

October 30 2003, 7:05 PM 

Congratulations Lotta (is that a Russian girl’s name?), on spotting that Mrs Haywood is a fantasist! And don’t forget that there is another Thread , kindly started by Gillian and which is right at the bottom of Page 1 (about to jump to Page 2) on which comments are welcomed called “RE: The Great Derbyshire Debate”. This thread is going to be quite long and narrow enough by itself by the time it finishes (and don’t worry, persevering readers, we are over the hump!) so the other thread is the preferred forum and I hope the theme of fact versus fantasy can be analysed there.

We continue our trawls into the murkier reaches of the Derby Evening Telegraph’s Opinion page with two contributions from 30th July 1997, both from previous contributors.

Janet Cooper writes (Opinion, July 22) that corporal punishment won’t work on “today’s unruly children”. But why must we accept that the youth of today will be unruly? They are not born that way!
No, the violent, moronic teenagers that infest every town these days are not accidents of birth – they are created by irresponsible, ignorant parents.
Irresponsible because so many simply don’t care what their offspring do, so long as it doesn’t interfere with their own leisure pursuits, and ignorant in that they have no idea how to instil the necessary discipline into their children.
They are told by the namby-pamby “Pat them on the head and tell them to behave” brigade that they mustn’t smack their children – but the simple fact is that, for so many situations, no-one has yet to come up with an alternative that is nearly so effective.
Like all youngsters, I and my sister and brother would bend the rules until we found the breaking point was marked by us being put across father’s knee for our bare bottoms to be given a really hard smacking or slippering.
This was not brutality, and in my case was needed only seven times between the ages of 13 and 18, but it taught us exactly what was acceptable behaviour and what was not.
Mrs A. Roberts, Osmaston Park Road, Derby.”

In reply to recent letters concerning spanking in schools, in my opinion it is wholly wrong for a teacher to inflict corporal punishment on another person’s child.
Clearly, however, there is a problem with children being presented for school in a wild, undisciplined state, but the fault lies with the parents (or, sadly, parent in too many cases), not the teachers.
I believe that there is a place for corporal punishment, but in the home, not school. Moreover, this should not be a wild slap in the heat of the moment, but a properly administered format (sic) spanking across the parent’s knee, delivered after a suitable cooling off period has allowed all parties to fully assess the gravity of the offence.
This was how I was brought up (and also the method used for my own children in the 1980s), and I am grateful for it.
J. Williams, Snitterton Road, Matlock.”


The English Vice: Beating, Sex and Shame in Derbyshire

October 31 2003, 7:01 PM 

Next one is from August 7th 1997

The punishment described by Margaret Haywood (Opinion, July 28) should be regarded as indecent assault, involving as it does the pulling down of a girl’s knickers for a bare bottom caning. It is a crime and I would be very suspicious of the motives of a teacher doing this today. Indeed, I would hope that any schoolgirl ordered to get undressed for such a beating would instead give the head concerned a slap in the face - she would have my full support!
Tracey Weston, Wilmington Avenue, Derby.”


Re: Re: part the 26th

November 1 2003, 2:09 PM 

It's not really that simple when you look at the evidence available. Certainly there seem to have been no regulations stating that girls should be caned on the bum but there were plenty years ago which said that any pupils who were caned should be caned on the bum over their usual clothing and there is plenty of evidence from primary and prep schools that girls did get this sometimes from male as well as female teachers. I wouldnt think this was common at secondary schools if it happened at all but didnt someone post something before about a warning given to male headteachers about now having to avoid caning girls on the bum at a conference 20 or 30 years ago? If it never happened why did they need the warning?


Part 29

November 2 2003, 11:36 PM 

From Monday 11th August 1997.

I am writing to reply to the letter from Mrs Margaret Haywood (July 28). I think she is wrong to suggest bringing back spanking for girls. I was once spanked on my bare bottom by my father in public and it was deeply humiliating. For the rest of my time at school I felt deeply for the girls in my class whenever one of them was spanked. Just being called out to the front was enough to make them blush. Having their skirts lifted for a slap high up on the leg was embarrassing with the boys looking on. It was impossible for them to look anyone in the face for some time afterwards. I hayed school because of it.
Pulling girls’ knickers down for spanking is a disgusting thing to suggest in a family newspaper. It is not necessary and should not be brought back.
Miss P Roberts, Cambridge Street, Derby”

And now two more from 12th August 1997 under the heading


“Margaret Haywood and Alison Roberts in their letters published last week do little service to those of us who would like to see corporal punishment re-introduced in our schools, by suggesting that it would be appropriate to apply it to our children’s bare bottoms.
When I was at school we were spanked fully clothed but still felt the pain keenly.
Good discipline should have respect for modesty.
While I favour spanking on the bottom rather than the hands, which children need for writing, this should not be used as an excuse for removal of underwear.
This merely adds extra humiliation and serves to titillate the sexual appetites of those watching, especially boys.
Such an approach is grossly offensive to those of us of Christian sensibilities.
Dorothy Wallis, Lexington Road, Chaddesden.”

“The recent correspondence regarding corporal punishment has, we believe, highlighted a number of ill-conceived or misinformed opinions.
We do not live in an ideal world and some kind of punishment is often necessary.
By this we do not mean severe canings, but firm spankings or slipperings of sufficient longevity and strength to be a genuine punishment.
To remove this weapon from a parent’s armoury is to put unnecessary obstacles in the path of the already difficult task of bringing up well-disciplined children in today’s troubled world.
We at The Association for the Retention of Corporal Punishment Option (AROCPO) would be interested to hear from any readers on this subject.
S Benton, AROCPO, P.O. Box 23, Ripley DE5 3XG.”


part the next

November 4 2003, 8:08 AM 

Two from Friday 15th August 1997

Why is it that so many people who were brought up under a corporal punishment regime want to inflict it on the next generation? Whilst it might help discipline certain young people, it can also, in my opinion, completely spoil their upbringing.
I hated school and achieved much poorer grades than I should have done, because I lived in constant fear of getting a thrashing.
I was once caught chewing bubble-gum and the teacher put me over his knee and spanked my bottom in front of the whole class!
In reality, I was well behaved. And yet I still received more than a dozen spankings or slipperings – some on my bare bottom – and a caning (for the heinous crime of talking in assembly)!
Consequently most of my energy went into trying to stay out of trouble rather than studying. We should be glad those days are gone.
Sarah Marshall, Smedley Street, Matlock.”

Some readers have been critical of my views on the spanking, both at home and at school, of teenage miscreants, so I thought that I should clarify a couple of points.
Firstly, I was not advocating corporal punishment just for girls – it should be used equally for both sexes. In point of fact, of course, since boys commit far more offences than girls, they should naturally receive more punishments!
Secondly, readers have complained that a spanking on the bare bottom is humiliating. Well tough! The primary objections (sic) of any punishment are to exact retribution on the offender and to act as a deterrent against further offences. If the punishment does not cause humiliation to the recipient, then it will fail on both counts.
I believe that juveniles of both sexes should know that, for serious offences, they will get their bare bottoms whacked – and whacked hard! The message should be: if you don’t like the punishment, don’t commit the crime!
Margaret Haywood, Derby Road, Denby.”

Beautifully expressed, don’t you think?


How to cure bullying

November 6 2003, 1:53 AM 

Unfortunately I don’t have further responses to the previous entry in late August 1997 but it is believed there were further letters.
The next contribution is an isolated one from April 21 1998.

I agree with E. Simnett (Opinion, April 16) that school bullies should be dealt with more strictly.
If there were just one offence that corporal punishment could be brought back for at school, surely this is it. A school bully can make the lives of other children miserable and almost unbearable.
Thirty years ago, three fifth-form girls regularly ill-treated first-formers. The older girls would catch hold of the younger ones, and roll them down the grass embankment into a sandpit in the school grounds.
The fifth-formers looked upon this as a ritual for treating newcomers to our school.
Our headmistress, however, looked upon this practice as bullying, and she rounded up the three offenders.
Next morning at assembly they were paraded on the stage. Three chairs were placed in position and the naughty girls ordered to bend over the back of them.
The games mistress then appeared with a rubber gym slipper, and with it gave each girl four stinging strokes across her bottom. After the girls had left sobbing and rubbing the seats of the skirts, the headmistress warned that that any other girl caught bullying would be treated in a similar fashion.
Not surprisingly, bullying came to an abrupt end at our school.
M Anderton, Borrowash Road, Spondon.”


The Great Derbyshire Debate Part 32

November 18 2003, 1:18 AM 

To get back on track, here is a block of letters from Autumn 1998. I don’t have the article by Sally Anderson to which J. Cooke refers.

Firstly one from 30/09/1998

Last week Sally Anderson wrote an article in the Derby Evening Telegraph about smacking children.
The youngsters of today are indeed fortunate they are not disciplined like those of 30 or 40 years ago.
In the 1960s, despite being a teenage girl, on three occasions I suffered the indignity of being placed across my father’s knee and having my bottom tanned. Several of the girls at school were treated in the same way by their own parents. We never complained but thought twice before misbehaving again.
I was also slippered at school for eating a sweet during a lesson (two strokes on my bottom given by our maths master). Children today would be amazed if they knew how strictly youngsters were treated just a few decades ago.
J. Cooke, Walbrook Road, Derby.”

From 07/10/98 and at last a hint of feminism.

J. Cooke writes (DET, September 30) about how discipline was stricter for teenage girls in the 2old days”.
In my opinion, this was part of the way in which men sought to maintain their position of superiority over women.
At my school in the 1960s, particularly in the senior classes, unruly behaviour by boys was shrugged off as “boys will be boys” and when they were punished it was usually in private (admittedly severely) by the headmaster. Girls, on the other hand, would be treated like children and spanked across the teacher’s knee in front of the class.
And this didn’t stop at school. While at college, I got a job as a barmaid and the other staff (mostly boys) complained that I never pooled the tips I got. When I refused to hand them over, the manager actually put me across his knee and soundly spanked me.
It’s high time attitudes like this were consigned to history.
I Warren. Belfield Road, Etwall.”

Next, one from 08/10/1998

In the letters column on September 30 J. Cooke wrote about how strictly children were disciplined when she was a teenage girl in the 1960s.
I was a girl in the same era and certainly agree with her comments.
There was a girl in our class, Maureen, who was able to boast she had been slippered by four different teachers, including the headmaster. The most usual offence for which she and many other girls had their bottoms tanned was for chattering in lessons and morning assembly.
Fortunately, I was not given any corporal punishment at school, but that was not the same at home. Up to the age of 17, I was frequently given a few sharp smacks on my bottom by my father and told to be a good girl.
J. Cooke was right when she said that children today would be amazed if they knew how youngsters used to be treated. Sadly, discipline is now almost a thing of the past.
Linda Ford, Oregon Way, Chaddesden, Derby.”

And to complete this little sequence another (sadly the last) from our old friend, on 09/10/98.

Regarding the comments you’ve published recently concerning the proposed ban on smacking children.
I agree with those people who say that corporal punishment is an old-fashioned idea. But then, being able to walk down the street without being verbally abused by gangs of foul-mouthed aggressive thugs also seems to be an old-fashioned idea.
As for being able to live peacefully in one’s own home without the fear of being attacked by thieving, often drug-crazed youths – yes, that’s an old-fashioned idea too.
I remain convinced that if the moronic scum that makes up so much of today’s youth had been subject to stricter discipline, enforced by corporal punishment if necessary, during their formative years then our society wouldn’t be in the mess that it is.
Mrs Haywood, Denby.”


Derbyshire Debate 1999

November 26 2003, 8:33 AM 

We come now to 1999. After 7 months with no action, the editor of the Derby Evening Telegraph sought to revive the great debate with a page long feature on 5th August 1999 under the heading “THE SMACKING DEBATE THAT DIVIDES PARENTS”.

“Seven out of 10 parents believe it is acceptable to smack their children, a new survey has shown.
Just over 1,000 people aged over 18 were quizzed for the poll carried out for a BBC radio programme, with 76 per cent expressing support for physical punishment if a child misbehaves.
The poll also revealed that just over half of those surveyed believed it was right for mothers with young children to go out to work and 68 per cent said their life had improved after having children.
Here two parents discuss whether smacking really is the best way to teach youngsters the difference between right and wrong.
Should parents smack their children?”


A father is shouting at his son – a big lad of 12. The boy doesn’t like it. Why doesn’t he stop it? He knows that it’s unfair.
The boy hates being shouted at. His dad knows that but that doesn’t stop him.
So the lad hits his father. Nothing too brutal. He has no desire to really hurt. He just wants to do enough to make him gasp for breath and stop the shouting for a moment. Just a light right to the solar plexus. Not much wrong with that then.
He didn’t like doing it, of course; it left him with very mixed emotions. He did feel a bit guilty. He knew he had let frustration get the better of him. But what else could have the boy have done?
He didn’t mind putting up with a bit of shouting but it was happening much too often nowadays.
He’d asked his father to stop, he’d even promised to give him treats if he did. But nothing seemed to work. And he knew that, if it were left unchecked, it would only be a matter of time before his dad was doing it everywhere, shouting at all and sundry, yelling at everyone he disagreed with, including his boss at work. And then where would we be?
And as for Mum, the occasional loving slap across the face never did any harm when her behaviour was really out of order. Actually, we all know it would be doing her a favour in the long run. Spare the punch and spoil the dad. A slap in time saves nine. You know it makes sense.
Presumably, all the old slappers who answered the poll would go along with that. How else could they justify smacking their own children? What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

I have never smacked my children and they have never smacked me.
Needless to say, my two sons do not always do what they are asked, what they are told, or what they should; certainly they often don’t do what I want. That leads to all sorts of argument, anger and frustration. But never to smacking.
I can’t imagine – barring some psychotic episode – why one would do it. If you are not brave enough, bad enough or mad enough to hit an adult, why would you hit a child? Because it’s easy, that’s why. Because you’re bigger and stronger.
Perhaps it was different in the days when smacking at home and at school was simply a part of life, the routine response to every small naughtiness. People thought of it as an act of loving care. “It hurts me more than it hurts you. But you’ll thank me one day.” That argument doesn’t wash nowadays.
Every parent knows that life with children can be full of torture.
You are tired when they aren’t; they are noisy and messy and often very boring. There are plenty of times when anything that would stop them in their tracks – a smack, a punch, CS gas, the neutron bomb – would be welcome.
But every parent knows that every act of physical suppression comes from weakness, not strength. In the poll, seven out of 10 are in favour of smacking. Seven out of 10 also said that they thought that having children improved the quality of their lives. Are they, I wonder, the same seven out of 10? I hope not.”

“THE ARGUMENT FOR by Katie Grant

When I was four I was sent by my nanny to my father to be smacked.
The memory of it is deeply engraved and I swore that night, with childish fervour, that never, never would I subject any children I might have to such indignity.
At primary school, corporal punishment was a daily feature of life and we lived in dread of it.
When I was a teenager I was sure that the flow of my speech rather than the flat of my hand would be enough to enforce discipline on any children that I might have.
For, unlike Aristotle, I believed that children were utterly susceptible to reason. If nanny had explained better that my behaviour was unacceptable, I thought, there would have been no need to send me to my father for physical punishment.
And then friends began to have their children. I would see them, exhausted, pushing trolleys round the supermarket, toddlers in tow, begging, cajoling, pleading with them not to push the stack of loo rolls to the floor or open packets of crisps.
The children persisted, screaming with fury when thwarted, staring in blank incomprehension as their mother told them again and again both not to do it and why not to do it.
I saw rational, capable women fighting back tears of frustration, counting not just to 10 but to 110 in an effort to retain an authority that their offspring knew only too well that they had lost.
Children, I gradually realised with horror, while utterly delightful in many ways, were not as rational as I thought.
When my own babies arrived I fervently hoped that they would automatically be angels. They were not. Like all other children, my three wanted toys that others were playing with and wished to create a glorious clatter by upsetting the pyramid of canned tomatoes in the shop.
When explanations and just plain “No, don’t do that” proved ineffective, I took a deep breath and smacked them. The shock and the humiliation which their faces registered were just as I recall from my own childhood.
But the affray was over in moments, with both parent and child absolutely clear as to what had just occurred.
I do not recall ever having to smack the children twice for the same misdemeanour.
Like everything, smacking can be used as a tool by the bully or an easy option by the bad tempered. But just because it is open to abuse, it does not mean, when used sparingly and with due thought, that it is wrong.
Children must learn to respect their parents and sometimes a short, sharp smack administered at the appropriate moment is of far more benefit than arguments or threats of sanction.
It is clear and unequivocal, sending out the unambiguous message that certain behaviour is absolutely wrong and must not be repeated.
Smacking is not something anybody relishes doing. But smacking a child for good reason does not represent failure.
It represents the indisputable fact that children are not absolutely reasonable creatures and cannot always be dealt with as we might choose.
Children must learn that the world does not centre round their wishes. An occasional smack teaches a sharp but effective lesson, a lesson which only those of a utopian disposition fail to recognise.”

Unfortunately the effort to revive the debate only produced a single reply on 11th August. However at least we have another hug, at last.

I have read with much interest the for and against letters on the smacking of children in the Derby Evening Telegraph on August 5, 1999.
I agree with the lady who is for smacking for wrong behaviour.
It is the quickest way to let a child know that their bad behaviour is not going to be tolerated at all by the adult person in charge of them. Yes, I did smack my son if I thought he needed a smack, which was very seldom, I am pleased to say.
Five minutes or even less after the smack, I would give him a cuddle and say I was sorry for hurting him but his bad behaviour would not be accepted by either his father or myself.
I know what it is like first-hand to be battered while a young child. At one stage in my life I had to see my doctor, for I got so frightened that I would do my son some real harm if I did smack him at all. My doctor was very good and helped me to see things in the correct and proper way.
At no time did my son come to any harm after he had been smacked by me and he has grown up into a very well-mannered adult person with much respect for other people and myself.
May I just add, if anyone at all feels they could go too far with smacking a child, walk away and calm down before you do anything at all about the situation. It is not easy bringing up children, and no text book can really tell you what should be done to make a good parent.
It is a case of trial and error all the way and we adults have to work out which is the best thing to do, in whatever circumstance, to teach them right from wrong.
Mrs Valerie Allsop, Station Road, Hatton.”


Part something - Into the New Millennium

November 28 2003, 2:04 AM 

And so into a new millennium. I thought the whole issue had gone off the boil when in August 2001 it starts again. I am missing the letter from Joe Coleman referred to in this letter dated Sept 7th 2001.

I agree with Joe Coleman, Derby Evening Telegraph, August 31, when he writes that corporal punishment should be reintroduced into schools. A teacher needs a deterrent to be used as a last resort when other methods of discipline fail, or for very serious offences.
As a girl in the 1970s, I attended a Leicestershire school. One day another girl and myself foolishly skipped the last lesson of the day.
The next morning a senior mistress took us along to visit our headmaster.
Unfortunately for us he kept a special slipper for tanning the bottoms of naughty girls. The mistress ordered the two of us to lean over his desk. After taking a white plimsoll out of a cupboard, he planted four strokes on each of our skirts. We left with extremely sore bottoms.
Did our headmaster ever get into trouble for this? Certainly not! He was often congratulated for keeping the young ladies well disciplined.
Dawn Renshaw, Brisbane Road, Mickleover.”

From 10th Sept 2001

The Government said it was going to get tough on criminals, but it can only get tough after a crime has been committed.
This then, should be reason enough for the Government to be tackling this problem at source. That being – in our classrooms.
Lack of discipline is responsible for a catalogue of crimes, not only giving the teachers a hard time but the police and the general public.
Its time the do-gooders admitted that they did no good by taking away disciplinary measures from parents and teachers.
So, with no physical punishment, the pupils have no fear and then progress from letting off steam in the classroom to vandalism, mugging and thieving.
Discipline should be of such sufficiency to instil both a feeling of guilt and fear.
Bringing the cane back would create a sense of fear and respect.
However, there may be another way to retain and even encourage the teacher back.
That is to introduce class supervisors (probably only required in the older classes) who could be situated at the rear of the class, giving him an overall vision.
They would have the authority to take any offensive or abusive pupil from class and deliver them to the head teacher’s study for their just deserts or a first of two warnings before expulsion.
This would not only protect the teacher, but liberate him or her to continue teaching, set an example to the remainder of the class, restore order and respect.
This would make the teacher’s job more tolerable and worthwhile.
Just as importantly, the discipline received in class will be reflected after leaving school, helping to cut crime to a minimum.
Introducing class supervisors (only in classes where required) would be far better than losing fully-qualified teachers.
B.G.Bower, Thorndike Avenue, Alvaston.”


More jewels from the Great Derbyshire Dustbin

December 1 2003, 11:57 PM 

The next is from 15 September 2001.

I must disagree with the recent correspondents (Joe Coleman August 31, and Dawn Renshaw, September 7) who called for the cane to be reintroduced to schools.
Such a policy might have worked in the past but today’s kids will either fight back or seek revenge.
When I was 15, I was bullied by a group of older kids and they made me steal dinner money from a teacher’s desk.
I went to the headmaster and told him everything.
We were all called to his study and I was spanked across his knee for stealing, which I thought was totally unjustified.
Then, the others were all caned.
But did it solve the problem? No!
In fact, it made it worse as they set out to get revenge on me for “grassing” on them to the head.
So, while I agree that something needs to be done to teach today’s kids some respect, this isn’t the answer.
I think that the problem is the way that some children are brought up by their parents, not how they are treated at school.
Edith Collier, Pentrich Road, Swanwick.”

And now Sept 17th

I agree with Joe Coleman (Opinion, August 31) and Dawn Renshaw (September 7) that corporal punishment is an excellent deterrent against anti-social behaviour.
As the government recognises, it should not be used on young children. It can, however, be very effective on teenagers.
When I was younger, I got into bad company and I stole my uncle’s car and damaged it.
I was caught, but my uncle, instead of taking me to the police (where I’d have probably got a metaphorical slap on the wrist), decided to punish me himself.
He put me across his knee and gave me the biggest spanking of my life.
It made me see the error of my ways and I ditched my new found “friends”. It’s just a pity that they didn’t have an uncle like mine.
Sandra Cox, Harvey Road, Derby.”

From 22nd Sept 2001

Edith Collier writes (September 15) that corporal punishment for teenagers is of no value. While I wouldn’t say that it is the only way to correct juvenile misbehaviour, it certainly works in some cases.
When I was 16, I started smoking – like many youngsters, I thought it made me look big.
I was in constant trouble at school over this and suffered frequent detentions. But they had no effect.
Then, one day, our housemaster caught me smoking in the corridor.
He dragged me to his room where he gave me the biggest spanking of my life.
I never smoked another cigarette!
So I’d certainly like to see teachers – and parents, too, of course - given back the option to use corporal punishment in certain circumstances.
Jennifer Cantwell, Newton Road, Burton.”

Interesting how the phrase 'The biggest spanking of my life' crops up in successive letters. It would make a great title for a new thread!

Lotta Nonsense

Re: More jewels from the Great Derbyshire Dustbin

December 2 2003, 7:24 AM 

The previous two postings refer to letters dated September 2001 from Joe Coleman, Dawn Renshaw, B G Bower, Edith Collier, Sandra Cox and Jennifer Cantwell.

A flick through the relevant electoral rolls reveals that Joe Coleman and Barry G Bower (the male writers) are present and correct while none of the allegedly female writers appears to exist.

What a surprise!


A bit more

December 3 2003, 12:28 AM 

From 25th September 2001

I feel strongly that corporal punishment should not be used on children at any age, even teenagers (Sandra Cox’s letter, September 17).
I and my daughter have just watched a Channel 4 programme, Going Native, which showed scenes in Swaziland schools where the cane is still a normal method of discipline.
A female teacher caned girls’ bottoms for the most minor breaches of standards of classwork, while in a separate scene a teenage girl was caned, dress raised, by a male teacher who speculated on the reasons for the girls wearing shorts under their dresses, to the amusement of the boys watching.
My daughter, who was brought up without this sort of treatment, was quite shocked, but it reminded me forcibly of my own time at school, being spanked across a teacher’s knee, dress up, having to show my knickers to my class mates.
Teenage girls of the time (the 1950s) lived in constant fear of being made to provide a spectacle for others when being punished.
They resented it also because the punishment exceeded what were often very minor breaches of school discipline.
Those well behaved girls having to watch punishments wee just as upset as those receiving it and I can remember one girl being sick after watching a spanking.
We need discipline that implies respect for children, not humiliation.
Name and address supplied.”

Some responses from late September

I have just read ‘Discipline must not humiliate children’ (September 25), which contained the usual tripe from the non-smacking brigade.
In one passage of the anonymous letter, the writer, a woman I think, recalled how in the 1950s, girls had their bottoms smacked.
I also went to school early in that decade, and like boys all over the country at that time, could expect the cane on the hand or other forms of corporal punishment for any misdemeanour. If I went home and complained, I would get a clip around the ear from Dad!
Can you ever remember in those “humiliating” 1950s, ever reading in the Telegraph about a brick going through an ambulance windscreen or an 80-year-old lady being robbed of her pension? I look forward to your reply.
G.W.Shaw, Letter by e-mail.”

Several people have written recently to say that corporal punishment is of no use in controlling wayward teenagers.
Well, all I know is this:
• When I was young, there wasn’t the level of disrespect for people and property, mindless violence, and loutish behaviour among young people that there is today.
• When I was young, if a teenager did behave in the kind of nasty, foul-mouthed thuggish manner that is so common today, then he or she would have been given a damned good hiding and would not have done it again.
Coincidence? I think not.
I had four brothers and two sisters and we all felt father’s strap across our backsides a few times when we misbehaved – and, although we were poor, we all grew up to be respectable, law-abiding citizens.
Similarly, I spanked my own son and daughters – and it never did them any harm.
Sometimes, the old ways are the best!
Arthur Croft, Kilbourne Road, Belper.”

I refer to ‘Discipline must not humiliate children’ (Name and address withheld) in the Derby Evening Telegraph on September 25.
One paragraph reads: “Teenage girls of the time (1950s) lived in constant fear of being made to provide a spectacle for others when being punished”.
May I point out to the writer that in the 1950s, one could walk the city’s streets with only a very remote risk of being mugged and/or assaulted?
John L. Harley, Riddings Street, Derby.”


Joe Coleman

December 3 2003, 12:54 AM 

Lotta, pretty clever of you to have found Joe Coleman on the Electoral Register when you don't even know his address!

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Joe Coleman

December 3 2003, 7:19 AM 

I agree.

It was very clever.

For a small fee, I may tell you how I did it.


October 2001

December 4 2003, 12:20 AM 

From October 13 2001. Sorry I seem to have missed S. Benton’s letter of Oct 5 referred to here.

Several people have said corporal punishment should be reintroduced to our schools.
This will never happen, and rightly so in my opinion.
However, I believe that there is a place for the spanking of misbehaving teenagers (I don’t advocate spanking young children), but that place is in the home.
Parents must be made to take more responsibility for the behaviour of their offspring, and if that means whacking their backsides when they step out of line, then so be it.
Another correspondent (S.Benton, October 5) said, this most valuable tool must not be taken away from parents.
Like most youngsters in the 1950s and 1960s, I and my brothers and sister were brought up to respect other people and their property.
When we misbehaved, as all teenagers do, we would be warned at first.
But a second offence would mean us going straight over father’s knee for a spanking.
If we were stupid enough to repeat the offence, then we would get father’s belt across our bare bottoms – then there would be no more repeats!
This continued as long as I lived at home (I got my last spanking when I was 20 years old) and I’m convinced that it did me good.
I never needed to be punished at school because I was properly disciplined at home.
Barbara Hallfield, Birchwood Lane, Somercotes.”

In correspondence concerning the corporal punishment of teenagers, it is noticeable that it is the women who complain that being spanked is too humiliating, while the men tend to argue that humiliation is a necessary part of the punishment.
Well, I’d like to buck the trend and side with the men.
When I was 17, I and my friend were told off for smoking by a young teacher and our reaction was to start a graffiti campaign against her.
Our writings got more and more offensive until we were caught. We expected another telling off – but what we got was far worse!
The headmaster came to our classroom and, after giving us the lecture we expected, borrowed a plimsoll from one of the boys. He then gave our bottoms a really good thrashing in front of the whole class!
While this was very painful at the time, that soon wore off and it was the humiliation that ensured neither of us ever got into trouble again.
Jenny Martin, Carter Lane, Shirebrook.”

Lotta Nonsense

Re: October 2001

December 4 2003, 7:01 AM 

According to the relevant 2001 electoral roll, neither Barbara Hallfield nor Jenny Martin existed at the addresses above.

What a surprise!


At the eleventh hour ...

December 5 2003, 12:01 AM 

From 25 October 2001

A friend has shown me your recent correspondence calling for the cane to be reintroduced in schools. These people don’t know what they’re talking about. While I agree that more needs to be done to control delinquent teenagers, the cane is not the answer.
In the 1960s, I worked in the office at a private school and, since I had nursing qualifications, part of my duty was to attend canings and to tend the victims afterwards. Boys would be left with terrible weals across their bottoms which would take weeks to heal. Girls were beaten less severely, but still needed medical attention afterwards.
Watching the canings being administered was harrowing. I’ve seen strapping 17-year-old youths screaming in pain, and similarly-aged girls crying for over an hour at having to bare their bottoms for the headmaster. We must never return to those days.
I’m all in favour of giving misbehaving teenagers a good spanking, but caning is barbaric.
Edna Coyne, Albert Road, Tamworth.”

Calm down, Lotta, calm down! I know!

And the last of 2001 from about a week later.

In response to the letter from Edna Coyne in your edition of October 25:
I agree wholeheartedly that the cane is quite beyond the pale, although it would be nice to hear from her that she used her medical qualifications to prevent some canings and, indeed, that she reported the headmaster to the police for taking liberties which, even in the 1960s, should have been regarded as outside the law.
I have to say, however, that, unlike her, I see spanking in much the same light as the cane. It is my experience that, where any sort of corporal punishment is allowed in schools, there will be teachers who abuse it. In my time at school, this would include the following actions.
There was over-frequent use of spanking. When used too frequently, it was impossible for children to gain a clear idea of exactly how they should behave.
Often, the spanking or caning was applied with excessive force, leaving marks on children’s bottoms. This was sometimes for very minor offences.
I was very glad when Derbyshire County Council suspended the use of corporal punishment in its schools and, in retrospect, it can be seen as a leader in combating child abuse.
J. Knowles, Ilkeston Road, Heanor.”

Final nail-biting instalment from 2002 coming up next! Hold your breath!


Derbyshire - the final countdown

December 7 2003, 8:03 AM 

From October 21 2002 and a last plea from an old friend:

Regarding the recent controversy surrounding corporal punishment, it is clear that, despite the views of the EU, a large number of people are in favour of retaining parents’ rights to administer “reasonable chastisement”.
The problem is that there is no definition of what is reasonable in this context.
While every young person is different, and what works for one might be inappropriate for another, our organisation firmly believes that workable guidelines could be incorporated into legislation.
It seems to us that a good spanking across the knee of a parent, or person acting in loco parentis, would normally be reasonable, whereas anything involving straps, canes or belts would not.
Slaps should be administered to the bottom or legs and should never be given to a child under four.
There is a clear distinction between discipline enforced in a loving manner and abuse.
S. Benton, Association for the Retention of the Corporal Punishment Option, Ripley.”

And the responses trickled in over the next week or so.

Here we go again – the annual call to bring back corporal punishment in our homes and schools has arrived (S. Benton, October 21st). When will these people realise that times have changed and what was acceptable 40 years ago is not necessarily acceptable today.
I was brought up in the 1950s and 1960s and, yes, I was spanked whenever I misbehaved. Indeed, between the ages of 15 and 18 I was given a sore bottom by my parents and several different teachers. But this was par for the course in those days, my friends were all treated much the same.
I agree this did us no harm. In fact, we look back at those days now and laugh.
But the kids of today are far more sophisticated than we were and would not stand for such treatment; so different methods have to be employed. We hardly ever spanked our own kids and they did not suffer because of that.
Let’s confine spanking to the history books, where it belongs.
Diane Porter, Wessington Lane, South Wingfield.”

S. Benton (Opinion, October 21) says that guidelines on spanking could be incorporated in legislation. He’s right, and they’d say: “Don’t do it.”
While spanking might work as a punishment, we need to do a lot more than just punish children if they are to become responsible: we need to understand, respect and educate them.
My father died when I was 16 and I became a bit of a tearaway. My mother turned to an uncle for help, but all he could suggest was spanking me.
This didn’t improve my behaviour. Eventually, they talked to me about why I was misbehaving. As soon as a dialogue was opened and the spankings stopped, my problems were soon solved.
Catherine Barker, Allestree.”

S Benton said (Evening Telegraph, October 21) that the use of a cane should not be considered reasonable chastisement. I disagree. The cane worked for me and I’m sure it would work for teenagers today.
When I was at school, I took up smoking and, by the time I reached the sixth form, I was hooked.
I’d had numerous spankings and slipperings, as S. Benton advocates, from teachers and my parents, but they did no good at all.
Eventually, I was sent to the headmaster to be caned, and I can remember it as if it was yesterday (it was actually over 35 years ago).
The atmosphere was terrifying as, with the school nurse and several teachers etc watching, he walked round swishing his cane as he lectured me.
Finally, I was bent over a chair and he gave me six hard strokes.
It was the most awful experience of my life – but I never smoked again.
Mrs Susan Collins, Albert Road, Chaddesden,”

And so to the final contribution
In view of the problems discussed in the Evening Telegraph recently, it was good to read of someone whose addiction to tobacco was cured by a good caning (Opinion, October 26).
Clearly, the reintroduction of corporal punishment is the solution to all the drug problems in the city.
It would give a new meaning to the nickname Smackworth!
Ed Fisher, Muirfield Drive, Derby.”

The Derby suburb of Mackworth derived its nickname from the drug problems on the estate. Despite the obviously facetious tone, there were a couple of further contributions from relatives of drug addicts who didn’t see the joke.

But that, to date, is it. And my wrist aches – and not for the reasons you suggest.
A year on, nobody has tried re-opening the debate. But remember, you can send in your views to the Derby Evening Telegraph and it would make a change from the endless debate about rebuilding the City’s bus station, a local saga running almost since the first contribution on this thread. So
BY LETTER: Write to Opinion, Derby Evening Telegraph, Northcliffe House, Meadow Road, Derby, DE1 2DW.
BY FAX: Derby (01332) 253027.
BY PHONE: Call Derby 253026 between 1pm and 7am to dictate your letter. Speak slowly, leaving your name, address and telephone number. Spell names wherever necessary.
BY E-MAIL: opinion@derbytelegraph.co.uk


Derby Evening Telegraph Bygones

February 26 2008, 3:03 PM 

Elizabeth Dearle, possibly the same Elizabeth Dearle who wrote a letter on spanking (see first of 2 entries on 22 Sept 2003 on this thread), has contributed an article to the DET Bygones page on 25th February, giving an account of her life at Normanton Infants and Junior Schools, Derby in the 1950s. Part of this reads:

"I remember Miss Smith with her grey hair worn in a plaited bun at the back. She was extremely strict. Pupils were terrified of her. When she reprimanded us, we were shaking from head to foot.

In PE lessons, the teachers were merciless. In freezing weather, girls clad in only a vest and blue/green knickers stood shivering, teeth chattering in the playground as the teacher instructed us in how to play netball and other games. If we complained about the cold, it was a quick run four times round the playground to warm up! We had to be tough in those days.

We all had mid-morning milk, which we sucked through straws sitting at our desks, before going outside to play. In ice-cold weather, the tops of the milk were frozen and sometimes pecked by hungry birds needing a drink.

I remember a boy in my class putting ink in his milk, turning it a sea-blue colour. I can't remember what he did with it afterwards.

Mr Rimmington, who mostly taught the top class, was very keen on using the slipper on unruly boys! He even gave his four slippers names. If I recollect rightly, they were Jimmy, Jammie, Jamie and Marmaduke, the latter being the worst and certainly not a favourable choice. I didn't have to stay for school dinners as I lived very close to the school. Pupils who stayed for dinners had a little round disc with the letter D on it, which they had to hand in on entering the school dining room."

For a fuller account see the following link and click on Bygones for photo of Normanton School, Derby and the lady aged 8.



The Great Derbyshire Debate reopens

December 10 2008, 5:21 PM 

From the Derby Evening Telegraph 9th December

"Humiliation and the cane are out, so how do we control kids?
Tuesday, December 09, 2008, 07:30
I HAD the cane or slipper at school and it never did me any harm" is often uttered by people over 40.
For most of them, being at the receiving end of such punishment from the head teacher once was enough to deter them from further transgression.
And, for others, fear alone prevented them from ever breaking the rules .
So it's little wonder that opinion on corporal punishment in the home and at school is deeply divided.
Many of those who tasted it generally think it was what kept peace in the classroom
As a result, they also cite the demise of such physical punishments as the reason young people appear to be badly behaved and lack discipline.
The law now bans teachers from physically chastising pupils, while parents are not allowed to smack their own children if it is likely to leave a bruise, red mark or graze.
But does society stand or fall on the ability to wield a slipper or cane?
Were the old days really better or was everyone simply living live in fear of being belted at home or school?
The common sanction in schools now is detentions, which can be set in school time, or after school but only with 24 hours' notice.
Some schools operate behaviour support centres, where pupils who misbehave are taken by on-call staff summoned by teachers.
The ultimate sanction is exclusion.
Last week, the Evening Telegraph broke the story of a teacher at Derby Moor Community Sports College, who punished his pupils with press-ups, instigated with their full co-operation.
The punishment was considered inappropriate by the education fraternity.
Even Ian Jennison, branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, thought that but was appalled that the teacher was suspended and officially punished for it.
Councillor Les Allen, Derby City Council cabinet member for children and young people, which ordered an investigation into the Derby Moor incident, said: "Safeguarding young people is paramount."
But, if there are no strong deterrents in schools or in society, how do teachers keep order and police enforce laws on the streets?
Carol Dover, former head teacher at Lees Brook Community Sports College in Chaddesden, supported Derby Moor's stance.
She said: "Evidence does not support that corporal punishment improved discipline in schools.
"The number of times that the same names occurred in the punishment book at Lees Brook shows that caning wasn't a deterrent.
"Humiliation is even worse because it can leave scars on a person's self-esteem."
Ann Crosby, a former teacher, thinks that there should never be a return to corporal punishment but doesn't see anything amiss with any humiliation which makes pupils ashamed of their behaviour.
Mrs Crosby, 72, who is chairman of the Southern Derbyshire Pensioners' Association, said: "Far too many heads were sadistic in their punishment of pupils.
"But I do feel there are no real deterrents in society. Detentions aren't a big deal for many children.
"I'm not sure what the answer is but I think more moral guidance is needed."
It's not hard to see why many people link the apparent breakdown in society values with a perceived lack of discipline in schools.
Former postman Harold Smith, 62, of Osmaston Park Road, thinks that a short , sharp lesson, such as slippering or caning, would be good for a few of today's youngsters.
He said: "I had both and, although they hurt at the time, I don't think I was any worse for them.
"I knew what would happen if I misbehaved and it was up to me to not do it again.
"The thing was I knew that, if I went home and told my parents, I'd probably get another smack for misbehaving. I can't imagine anything like that happening today parents are more likely to complain
"More rules in school might lead to better behaviour out of it."
Bill Harrison, 84, of Chellaston, received three raps of the cane on each hand after a prank went wrong. He said: "You can be sure I never did anything like it again.
"There needs to be more discipline in schools but physical punishment isn't the answer."
Lecturer and author Simon Brownhill, of the University of Derby, has been looking into behaviour and discipline systems as part of his research.
He said: "I can understand what the teacher at Derby Moor was trying to do by involving the children in a punishment they agreed.
"But the punishment was inappropriate and not sanctioned by the head teacher.
"A punishment system based on detentions can work really well as long as everyone knows what the penalties are and for what."
Mr Brownhill advocates a home-to-school agreement that explains what happens if pupils do wrong and is signed by the pupil, school and parents.
He said: "That way there is consistency and pupils know what the boundaries are.
"Children have rights and you can't do what was done to them 20 years ago but this can be just as effective if a school sets it up correctly."
Corporal punishment in the home is also threatened with extinction.
More than 100 Labour backbenchers have signed a private statement urging ministers to allow a free vote on the subject in Parliament.
It comes after an NSPCC survey revealed that about 160,000 teenagers over 15 had been smacked recently by parents trying to assert discipline.
But the Government does not want to make smacking by parents a crime.
Children's minister Beverley Hughes said: "We agree that smacking isn't a good thing and other means of controlling children's behaviour are preferable and probably more effective.
"But neither do we support a ban which would make smacking a crime and criminalise decent parents for a mild smack."
Derby College student Lisa Churchill, 17, of Sunnyhill Avenue, Derby, said: "It's inhuman for children to be physically hit by anyone.
"Unfortunately, some people only know that way of treating children because it's what happened to them."
Tell us your views. Write to Opinion, Derby Evening Telegraph, Meadow Road, Derby, or e-mail: opinion@derbytele graph.co.uk "

And you can join in this time. There has already been one response to the website version of the article - see www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk .

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