On my mind

Llanelli Star - - LETTERS - With Graham Davies

IN the past we were quite ef­fi­cient in Britain at meth­ods of pun­ish­ment.

For ex­am­ple, be­head­ing was a favourite, but nor­mally not good enough for the lower classes. Burn­ing was the pre­ferred pun­ish­ment for heresy (yet a dou­ble whammy if you ended up in hell), and hanging was a very com­mon method of ex­e­cu­tion from Saxon times.

Drown­ing, the pre­rog­a­tive of mur­der­ers, was very cost ef­fec­tive and boil­ing alive, heavy on fuel costs, was a spe­cial­ity for poi­son­ers.

Among the lesser pun­ish­ments, and at a min­i­mal cost, were plac­ing in the stocks, whip­ping, flog­ging, birch­ing, strap­ping, can­ing and slip­per­ing.

The teacher who caned me in the pri­mary school with a piece of bam­boo was car­ry­ing on the no­ble tra­di­tion of phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment by the strong against the weak.

He taught me that hit­ting some­one was the best way to ex­press his feel­ings and demon­strated that it was per­fectly okay to hurt some­one else, pro­vided they are smaller and less pow­er­ful. One day I can be a hit­ter too.

Just to prove it’s not just Brexit that di­vides a na­tion, the law pro­posed last week by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to ban the smack­ing of chil­dren has split peo­ple in two (not a known mode of pun­ish­ment).

The le­gal de­fence at present is “rea­son­able pun­ish­ment”, which has the pre­ci­sion of a bowl of custard.

Now we know that rais­ing chil­dren has its chal­lenges from joy to guer­rilla war­fare and they need dis­ci­pline. But good dis­ci­pline re­sults in chil­dren be­hav­ing well; phys­i­cal dis­ci­pline re­sults in chil­dren be­ing hurt, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally.

Smack­ing anybody has to be a moral fail­ure – it’s called “assault” when you do it to an adult. It smacks of lack of par­ent­ing skills and cre­ativ­ity when a bit of pos­i­tiv­ity, love and re­spect works won­ders.

Fol­low Graham on Twit­[email protected]

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