Letter: No nostalgia for corporal punishment

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was good to see that John Patten had confirmed that there could and would be no return to corporal punishment in schools ('Patten reveals his schoolday beatings,' 4 January).

But it was sad that he should feel it necessary to regret its passing. The education world would no doubt speculate whether the Jesuit beatings that he received at Wimbledon College did him, or his education theories, any harm. Nostalgia for such practices, for any violence to children, does a huge disservice to our much-too- violent society.

Discipline, at home or at school, which deliberately hurts or humiliates children, especially from adults they love and respect, teaches first the acceptability of violence. That is why physical punishment is a significant determinant factor in the development of school bullies and those who go on as adults to inflict violence on partners, children and the public.

If we want to make any serious impact on the levels of all kinds of violence in society, we have to accept that children have at least as much right as the rest of us to physical and personal integrity.

Our government, by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is committed to protect all children from 'all forms of physical or mental violence'. Five days into International Year of the Family would be an appropriate time to hear a clear condemnation of all violent and humiliating child rearing and education, and a commitment to join the accelerating worldwide movement to ban physical punishment.

Yours faithfully,

PETER NEWELL

Co-ordinator

End Physical Punishment of Children (EPOCH)

London, N7

5 January

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