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6th May 2004
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Bring back the birch!

Cane Should punishments today be more severe? Do you think moral standards have dropped? Or do you think we need to be more understanding of society's problems? Click here to have your say.

Jayne from Rhyl: "Should we bring back the birch? NO! How psychologically damaged would you be if someone beat you for something you didn't do? I think it would make people worse because then kids would start rebelling and sticking up for themselves if a teacher hit them and were allowed. I know I wouldn't work for a teacher if they had just hit me. We're not all dead soft you know."

Jon from Birmingham: "It is sad to say that, in many if not most cases, when the 'bad behaviour' of young people is noticed or affects the lives of others in a negative way, it is too late for the behaviourism to be eradicated. I am the father of three teenagers who, by nature or due to upbringing, would be extremely sorry for causing anyone to have reason to be upset with them. This does not mean they don't have 'lives' it means they are considerate of others in the same way that they perhaps would like others to be considerate of them. I retired from teaching last year. I worked mainly with junior aged children in the West Midlands. My experience suggests rather strongly that the eventual behaviour of youngsters is, without doubt, down to the quality of parenting and level of contact with mature, law abiding adults experienced by the growing child."

Nancy from the USA: "Things are much the same here in the States. Kids are running wild because they have no consequences to fear. I believe discipline is vital to the health and well-being of our children. If you give the right to TEACH our children back to the parents and educators, I think there will be fewer people winding up in prison. The mere THREAT of corporal punishment is sometimes all that's necessary to gain compliance!"

Chris from York: "Whatever the liberals claim, the cane was a deterrent. Used sparingly and justly, it is an effective upholder of school discipline."

Malran Arventnir from Coventry: "I feel that corporal punishment should be reintroduced - not just for juveniles, but also for adult offenders as an alternative to prison sentences, particularly for non-violent offences. Not only would this help relieve prison overcrowding and cost less than the present system; but, especially if integrated with well designed support services, would ensure that offenders do not become as alienated from society as often occurs with prison, or abused by other inmates, or learning in a 'university of crime'. This might just help prevent them from re-offending in the future. We could then leave prison for the really dangerous people who DO need to be locked up."

David Morgan from Cardiff: "There are gangs of boys, some as young as 10, hanging around the streets until midnight. They abuse people, and are beyond the law. Many are feral, running the streets and beyond discipline. I have seen people attacked, and the police are powerless to do anything. The cane should be brought back in schools, and approved boarding schools for truants. The birch should be brought back for juvernile offenders. It is far more humane than the young offenders' prisons where they are bullied and many commit suicide. And after a birching they can be sent back home which is humane compared to what is on offer these days for offenders."

Ray from Mold: "The odd clip round the ear does nobody any harm. I think a lot of the problems stem from how the parents bring up the children nowadays. They have no time for them now, they don't listen to them and instead of learning/reading them a book, etc they plonk them down in front of the TV and let them get on with it. This situation will only get worse unless we start listening to them, to teach them right from wrong from an early age."

Tom Evans from Pantymwyn: "I'm all for the birch coming back or any other effective and sure-fire means of punishment. I work in Manchester and I can't believe the amount of crime every day. I actually caught two men trying to break into my car. Luckily, I shouted to a police officer who got hold of the two offenders. This country is sure in a mess."

Jim Henderson from Ewloe, Flintshire: "We live in a far different world now to when I was young. There is no respect for people today.They should never have done away with National Service for one thing. To hear that nothing can be done because of a youngster's age is pathetic. Youngsters are laughing in the face of authority because they know they can get away with anything, and the justice system is a joke."

Ex-Pat J from Canada writes: "I look back fondly to my childhood in Rhyl and especially my time at Rhyl Grammar. Yes I got the cane; yes it did make a difference, but think back. The school took on a more holistic approach to your upbringing; they cared about you as a person and looked at the whole. I know there are teachers today trying to do the same thing. The older schooling also formed a partnership with parents. After all aren't we, the parents, responsible for the overall upbringing of our children? So, bring back the partnerships that existed in our society and I believe we stand a better chance. The Cane? Yes it did make a difference, it made me mad and scared, yes intimidation does work, short term, but that just bottles things up. My parents, neighbours and teachers made me who I am, with a 'Bobby on the Bike', who also cared, thrown in."

Jan from Wrexham: "Thank you Hazel. Firstly I hope your son was not too upset over the incident and his leg is better. I always said to my children 'Respect costs nothing but to receive it means a lot'. My children have been brought up to respect others and they will respect you, but unfortunately that is not the case anymore - people are too rude and it's all 'self, self' now, no matter what age they are. Thankfully there are some of us who believe in it. The incident with my son left him shaken because he was shocked that an older person acted like that. He is also an asthmatic, so any form of upset is not good for him."

Hazel from Wrexham: "I have just read the comments on 'Bring Back the Birch'. I agree with Jan's comment: to have respect you must earn it. I have a teenage son who is 17, he gives up his seat on the bus for elderly people or pregnant ladies or for mothers with children. On one occasion he had just attended a hospital appointment for back trouble caused by a fall. An elderly person got onto the bus. Whilst there were other people on the bus who could have given up their seat, the elderly person tapped my son on his leg with his stick and told him to get up. My son did not give up his seat and he explained why. Still no one else offered their seat. The rest of the way home my son could hear tutting and comments about how disgusting it was that he did not get up. As a result my son got off the bus two stops early and walked."

Chris from Derby: "I was born in 1952, so I too ought to remember halcyon days when teenagers were seen and not heard, had respect for their elders etc. However, I don't think I'm mistaken when I recollect the teddy boys fighting outside the snooker hall, then the running riots between mods and rockers on seafronts throughout the country. Things quietened down a bit when we moved on to hippies and free love, but then came the punks etc, etc. Let's get off our moral high horses here: teenagers have always been 'lively'. Admittedly, we didn't have drugs to contend with, but we didn't really need them, as you could buy a pint of cooking sherry in a lemonade bottle for a few pence at most street-corner off-licences."

SB from Romford: "Why do parents always get the blame for unruly teenagers? When my four children were small, everybody used to congratulate me on how well behaved and polite they were. I was proud of them all.
It didn't last. When my eldest daughter was 14 she became part of a crowd who encouraged her to stay away from home for days at a time, play truant from school, and get into trouble with the Police. I told her to stay away from them but she told me that it was nothing to do with me. I tried to keep her in, but was ignored. Short of tying her up there was nothing I could do. One day I slapped her face for being really rude to me, she reported me to the school for child abuse. The Social Services were knocking on my door the day after, interviewing all of the children finding out if I smacked them often or abused them in any way. The outcome was that they found me to be a perfectly good mother and the problem was with my daughter. They referred me to a counsellor who told me that if my daughter was not willing to talk to her she couldn't help in any way. My daughter refused to co-operate. Eventually she was expelled from school. At 14 I had an argument with her, I told her to live by my rules or live somewhere else. She packed her bags that night and left. She was gone for two and a half years before coming back last year. My second daughter has given me no trouble whatsoever, she is now 16 and going to college. My youngest daughter is aggressive, rude, foulmouthed, disrespectful and takes no notice of any rules that I try to implement. She also plays truant from school. I have asked the school for a referral to a counsellor, but so far nothing has been done. My son is 12, he is also very loud, rude and foulmouthed. I am now having complaints from the neighbours about the behaviour of my children and their friends. I feel that I have totally lost control of the situation.
Why can't we parents with problem teenagers get the help we need, instead of critisism from other adults who have been fortunate enough not to find themselves in my position?"

Anonymous from Wrexham: "I think the root of the problem with some children running riot is all down to the goody two shoes who try and run this country. The idiot who decided that to smack a child is unnecessary is in my opinion someone who lives in cuckoo land. I had a few smacks in my time and it did me no harm, only to make sure I didn't do it again. I remember the village bobby often gave the odd clout across the ear, then you got another one when you got home. My daughter has told me of terrible things that have gone on in school: when she was bullied the head teacher told me to write to the education authorities to say that I would get the police involved if nothing was done about it because the school's hands are tied, it's all a farce."

Sam from Wrexham: "I'm 34 years old, not an old person in most people's eyes. I do feel sorry for the older generation having to put up with these 'untouchable generations' that seem to loiter on every street corner like packs of wolves. Before people start replying to this comment with 'my grandson's a cherub bla, bla,' or 'I know what my daughter was doing last night!', just pause and think; I'm not painting all youths with the same brush but, on their own, a loving family member may go down to the shops for you and give you all the change back BUT in a pack of others... peer pressure etc, etc. I it had when I was their age, but then it was to nick some apples from some bloke's orchard, and if you got caught, you held your hands up and waited for your dad to find out. That was lesson enough for me. Today the apples have turned to pension books, DVD players, TVs, videos, you name it. The orchard has turned into people's homes, cars, work places. And in their search for thrills (there is no law, sorry!) there is law, law that protects, encourages and defends these acts of theft. Now they can get away with these crimes and laugh into the faces of the bench in court. Now they are just not happy to hold their hands up, fair cop. No, they do not give a thought about crippling someone for a fiver, stabbing someone for their video. God forbid but it is not that far away in the future, that the law abiding victims of today will become the police of tomorrow. Not the friendly police that we've grown to respect and depend on, but a lynching mob. Caught in the act will be dealt with on the street where and when the offence occurred. A savage thought, but who 10 years ago thought that pensioners would be murdered in their own homes for small amounts of money as today's Press indicate. This is not being alarmist but watch the police, courts and prisons fold under this new wave of policing. Ask yourself this question. If you were put in the shoes of a recent well know 'farmer', on the night which this gentleman defended HIS own property on HIS own land with the only defence he had, would you have pulled the trigger? The answer is scary, isn't it!"


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