I was bought up in a period when the physical chastisement of children was the norm. If you were naughty in school you would be caned by the headmaster; if you were naughty outside school you would get the belt from your Dad. When I was a youngster I felt that the system was cruel, unjust and arbitrary. I was caned and belted for things that I either hadn't done or for things which I hadn't considered particularly bad when I did them.
I generally support the abolition of the physical chastisement of children.
If I went home after school and told my Dad that I had been given the cane by my headmaster I would have received a second beating from him for bringing the family into disrepute. If I was told by my son that he had been beaten by his headmaster in the way that I was beaten by mine I'd throttle the headmaster!
But I am confused by the alternatives.
One of the things I was punished for both at school and at home was an I'll show you mine if you show me yours incident with a younger neighbourhood girl, when I was about ten or eleven years old.
Yesterday two young boys of a similar age were in the Old Bailey accused of rape, convicted of attempted rape and have had their names put on the sexual offenders register for similar naughtiness!
That is not a reasonable alternative to the cane, the belt and the birch of my childhood.
If we want to abolish the corporal punishment of children we must find an alternative way of dealing with naughtiness that doesn't involve the draconian use of the criminal law and the courts in the sickening way that this case has done.
These two boys were very naughty boys, without any doubt, they deserve to be punished, but they are not attempted rapists or sex offenders or even criminals!
They would have deserved six of the best 40 years ago, they don't deserve to be criminalised today – I oppose both. But what the happy medium between the two options is I don't know, but it is a subject that must be discussed and resolved if we want to remain a civilised society.