Letter: Smacking into submission

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From Mr Geoffrey Barnes

Sir: Elizabeth Peacock's suggestion ("The Singapore solution", 21 March) about televising canings was, I am sure, made with tongue-in-cheek and may have led some to dismiss her ideas. May I put in a plea for a re-examination of the subject?

I remember my own childhood before and during the war when schools were peaceful and places of ordered discipline; when doors were left unlocked and when ladies of all ages could walk safely abroad.

I remember also that we had as much devilry within us as any of today's youngsters, but, with very few exceptions, we behaved ourselves. If we were asked why, most of my generation would reply that we were deterred: at school, in my case, by a benevolent headmaster who, while rarely resorting to its use, had as a final deterrent, a cane. We feared the cane, we knew that it hurt and we behaved. Outside school it was known that magistrates could order the birch and we behaved.

Perhaps a pressure group could be formed to counter the effects of those groups opposed to physical punishment. If the result of such pressure led to the reintroduction of corporal punishment, I am sure that any government taking such action would earn the heartfelt gratitude of a huge section of the population.

Yours faithfully,