A few months ago there was a survey completed asking if teachers should be able to inflict corporal punishment on pupils who were misbehaving. A large section of the population said 'yes - hit the buggers'.
Since 1987 it has been illegal for a teacher to hit a pupil and rightly so. I cannot think of a more degrading, demeaning and unnecessary act. Imagine little Timmy has talked out of turn one time too many, he gets a smack. People may think 'fair enough'. Timmy is child, the teacher is full grown adult.
Also there can be no check or balance. We all have days where we're a little bit ratty. Where all you want to do is hit someone. You didn't sleep well, or you're hungover, or you've had a row with someone you love, or someone has broken your coffee mug and the bastards will pay. We all have those moments but because we're well adjusted adults who are aware of the rules and boundaries of society we take a deep breath, smoke a cigarette and/or try to keep our cool.
Now care to imagine what it would be like if you were told that it was not only acceptable for you to hit someone who had annoyed you but actively encouraged because 'it's the only way they'll learn'. I can foresee some sort of nightmarish society where at the slightest provocation everyone ends up in a huge Beano-esque fist fight.
Or like Portsmouth on a Friday night.
However, the idea of corporal punishment in schools is an extension of a perceived wider problem. For some reason we have become obsessed with the idea that teenagers are somehow 'much more disrespectful than when I was young'. What? Teenagers disrespectful to those who are older than them? That's what they're fucking for. And the idea that teenagers are somehow becoming more disrespectful is a nonsense. How do you measure that? Are there scientists in lab coats putting teens into MRI scanners and muttering to themselves about how there has been a 4.7 % decrease per annum?
No, of course not. That would suggest the NHS has some MRI machines rather than a highly trained sniffer dog called 'Mr I'.
Throughout time people have complained about the young; like incontinence or dying of hypothermia in the winter it's what old people do. But due to the growing power of the 'silver vote' we now are in a position where peoples' fears of the young are actually influencing the policy makers.
It's why we have ASBOs and why this ugly issue of corporal punishment raises its head from time to time.