"When a child is caught in the throes of a temper tantrum today, most of the time, they will probably get their way, along with what they want. At the very worse, they will experience the indignity of being reprimanded for fifteen minutes, cooling off in the naughty corner as they mouth obscenities at the wall, along with descriptive threats of what they intend to do to you when they are adult and you are too old to leave your walking frame and fend for yourself!
In my day, the very least I could have expected was a good tanning, twenty four hours starvation, being sent to my room until the dawn of a new day, grounded to the house after school for at least a month and the loss of all 'privileges' until correction had been achieved. Oh.... and by privileges, I don't mean 'pocket money', as man still hadn't reached the moon and the concept of pocket money didn't exist yet. By 'privilege' I mean the opportunity to diligently work doing chores about the home, on the off chance that if mum could afford a few coppers to spare when dad next got paid, you might be in line for two-penneth's worth at the sweet shop.
Punishment is now an unfashionable concept and means of correction because it creates moral distinctions between one person and another. Even the thought of chastisement to the staunch defender of human rights for stick insects and rebellious children, such is nothing less than odious. Thanks, largely to the gradual abandonment of all discipline by adults towards their children since the 1960's and their overindulgence in material acquisition as the first quietening means of fowl protest, we now live in times where the power of celebrity holds more sway over the impressionable minds of our young than any moral guidelines that once made Britain great.
Today, too many parents live in a meaningless morass, swirling around in a cesspool of collective guilt. They tend to give in too easily to the wants and demands of their children and offer no moral compass towards spiritual guidance and meaningful individual/collective responsibility.
Although I am not an advocate for the return to corporal punishment, the one thing I can say about the years in which I grew up, was that I learned through corporal punishment, to be less inclined to offend in like manner again having received it. I will confess to disliking, yet accepting the imposed discipline of the time and I can honestly say that it did me no lasting harm. However much my dad's hard hand smarted on my backside, though I couldn't understand or like it at the time, I accepted it was for having done something wrong through choice.
I will never forget spending one full day a number of years ago in the presence of the world's most famous comedian, Norman Wisdom. The late Norman Wisdom, with whom I was friends for a dozen years prior to his death, had kindly travelled from his home in The Isle of Mann to Mirfield Library at my request, where he read one of my books ('Action Annie') to a few hundred children in the Library forecourt. Publication of this book had been praised by the then Chief Inspector for Schools and Ofsted (the late Chris Woodhead) in 'The Guardian', and its first publication cost had been funded by my friends, the late Dame Catherine Cookson and her husband, Tom. The Prime Minister's wife, Norma Major also read the book in a school in her husband's constituency, and the actress, Brigit Forsyth of 'The Likey Lads' television fame recorded the twelve 'Action Annie' stories for radio transmission. Norman kindly agreed to give it a good send off via his public reading that was covered by regional and national television, as all the proceeds from its sale was going to a children's charity. (That's enough of the name dropping for one paragraph!)
During our contact then and in the years before he died, Wizzy (which he preferred to be called), told me that his parents frequently abandoned him to the streets as a young boy. He said that there was hardly a day when his father didn't give him a good thrashing with a leather belt. Despite this apparent parental cruelty, plus the fact that Norman ran away from home a number of times before he was thirteen, he wouldn't allow anyone to speak badly of his parents.
Unfortunately, there are many children who suffered undue hardship and cruelty as a child, and whom in adult years found it impossible to abandon the ill-treated and abused child still within themselves. Indeed, Wizzy often quoted the saying of another comedian, Jerry Lewis, that he was the most fortunate of people with the best of jobs, as he had spent a lifetime getting paid for what other children got punished for; acting the fool.
For over forty years now, I have studied and practised behaviourism, both general and of the cognitive variety. I know that compliance is of two kinds; one that is obtained through the fear of punishment and the other by the act of love. I genuinely believe that power based on love is a thousand times more effective and is more likely to produce permanent change for the better than the one derived from fear of punishment. However, unlike the great Mahatma Ghandi, I also believe that punishment that is 'proportionate to the gravity of the offence' is often also the only effective way to maintain an orderly and civilised society.
In short, while I'd be happy to send many a child to the naughty corner for a punishment, as far as many adult offenders are concerned, who show no regard for life, limb, liberty or justice, I'd willingly mete out a different justice. In particular, those adults who molest and abuse innocent children and commit degrading acts of cruelty against old aged citizens; I'd willingly send them to the farthest and most isolated corners of the earth as their 'time out' and forget I'd sent them there!" William Forde: September 3rd, 2016.