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NOOKS AND CRANNIES

While moving house recently I found lots of copies of the Beano in the attic (from when my sons were kids...many,many years ago!). I was amazed by the level of violence in them, particularly the use of the parental. Was the slipper ever commonly used as a punitive measure in UK homes? If so, was the Beano responsible or was it just reflecting society at the time?

Caroline Atkinson, Bromley, Kent UK
  • In the 60s when I was a child my mother used to beat the cr*p out of me with whatever was to hand. Usually the slipper was the nearest weapon but I was also attacked with the hand, other shoes and sometimes sticks, on every part of the body including the face and head. At the time I felt that the ritualised paternal slipperings shown in comics were probably preferable to my own experience.

    Carla, Crewe UK
  • The short answer is that the Beano (and others) were simply reflecting reality: comics are social documents, as well as entertainment. The slipper was indeed "commonly used as a punitive measure in UK homes". As was the belt, the cane, the ruler, and the wooden spoon. The Victorian ethic of "spare the rod and spoil the child" was a long time dying in the UK. Caning for misbehaviour at school was only outlawed a few years ago. This was reflected at many levels: in the 1930s, you could be publicly whipped for a variety of offences, including -- bizarrely -- "being an incorrigible rogue" (under the Vagrancy Act). Reprints of 1960s-70s "Beryl the Peril" strips, currently running in the kids' section of the Sunday Times, never fail to amaze by the inevitability of corporal punishment providing a, er, punchline. To provide perspective, this was part of the Great Game of life: if you got caught being naughty, you got a smacking. This was generally accepted by the victims, although (obviously) the line between reasonable chastisement and sadism was crossed by not a few individuals, and the child victims of such behaviour were dismissed as "cry babies" (because they were acting as though they really had been badly hurt, when no-one in their right mind would REALLY hurt you, it's just to make you remember not to do (whatever) again, it never did me any harm, etc, etc, etc). Anyway: nowadays, Mr Menace and Mr Peril are among many cartoon parents who have to content themselves with going red and shaking their fists while going "Grrrrrrrrr!" Meanwhile, in the real world, kids are quietly decapitating, disabling, maiming and disembowelling in full colour and stereo, courtesy of the home gaming systems that their parents have bought to keep them occupied. Now, I don't now about you, but I can't help thinking that we're missing something, here ...

    Garrick Alder, Bedford
  • My teen years were in the fifties and physical punishment was the norm. My Father used the slipper and belt whilst my teachers used the cane, plimsolls and the flat of the hand to the neck, ears and head. A Police Officer once clipped me around the ear for scooting my bicycle on the pavement. No good running home to complain as we were always told "He must have had good reason" Respect for authority was high but we still offended.

    Dai, Machynlleth Wales
  • I'm not that old (25 to be exact) and I remember the 1 metre wooden black board ruler across the backside almost weekly and the wooden blackboard eraser being hurled at my head (that one was saved for special occasions).

    Carly, Brisbane Australia
  • I am 32, and was punished in exactly the way depicted in the comics. I knew it was sadistic nonsense by the time I was about eight.

    Jane , Northampton
  • Whilst in primary school in the 60s the teacher routinly punished children with a large white plimsole. It did not hurt.

    Roger Carter, Leeds England
  • No adult ever laid a finger on me until I went to school. I managed to avoid the 'belt' (the tawse) for about three years (till the age of about eight), and having been belted for the first time, I took the red weals on my wrist to my parents who raised merry hell with the school. It took three months or so for them to wring an undertaking out of the Education Authority to report any misdemeanour on my part to them, and under no circumstance to offer me violence. The whole process was extremely unpleasant for my parents and traumatic for me, but, to everyone's surprise I was not bullied by my classmates for avoiding the belt - this had been one of the 'reasons' given by the Authority for being unwilling to accede to my parents' demands. Such occurrences must have been getting commoner all over the country, so that the Government eventually had to act - forty years later.

    sheia dennis, glasgow scotland


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