The cane

There's been a call today - reported in the Daily Express - for a return of this...


Yes. The cane. Apparently almost half of parents interviewed were in favour of the re-introduction of corporal punishment and almost a fifth of secondary school pupils agreed. But I suspect both the parents and pupils might start to think again if it directly affected them.

The cane in schools is like a lot of things - uniform, National Service, policemen cuffing ruffians round the ear - we're happy to agree with if it doesn't involve us and ours. The thought of anyone caning any of my children - whatever they had done wrong - is anathema, as was the thought - as a teacher - of having to cane anyone.

And anyway, are things really that bad? With riots on the streets and stabbings in the playground it might seem so. But as today's Telegraph points out, it was ever thus. 'Are today's children wickeder?' screamed a headline back in... 1932.

But perhaps the single biggest reason for not bringing back the cane is the fact that - surveys like this notwithstanding - parents today would never react in the way they used to do back in the 'good old days'. We had the cane when I was at school. I had it once myself. And I distinctly remember talking to boys after they'd 'had it' and asking them if they were going to tell their parents. 'No fear' was the reply. 'If I did that I'd get it again as soon as I got home.'

Judging by the number of anguished 'phone calls I had to take from parents whose children had been given an after-school detention ('he can't possibly have done it/stay behind/be that sort of boy') I rather think the reaction these days of parents being told by their son (or daughter) that they'd got the cane would be a little different.

Which makes the survey findings all the more ironic. Hear what I had to say on the matter on the Peter Levy show on BBCiPlayer (8mins 40secs) for the next seven days

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