DUNCAN BARKES Even kids are calling for return of cane – but is it right?

It never did me any harm’ … ‘A good thrashing focuses the mind’ … ‘It’s the only language some kids understand’. The predictable clichés from those in favour of bringing the cane back to the classroom.

But can we really call ourselves a civilised society if adults are physically assaulting children in schools? And why should it be up to teachers to discipline a child – surely it is the job of parents, not the state?

Last week a survey revealed almost half of parents support the return of the cane. Perhaps more interestingly, a fifth of children are also in favour of the return of corporal punishment for very bad behaviour.

These findings clearly highlight a frustration that unruly and disruptive pupils need a short, sharp shock, but I do not believe beating them is the answer.

Many newspapers and radio programmes last week did not bother to focus on the other findings in the survey. By far and away the biggest interest arose from those simply wanting teachers to have more authority in the classroom. But there are other non-violent measures that could be implemented.

For many modern kids their mobile telephones are their lifelines. Permanently glued to their hands and/or ears, teachers should be given the power to confiscate mobiles.

I suspect that at a stroke you would see an immediate positive effect on behaviour.

You don’t have to be Supernanny to work it out: removal of privileges and treasured possessions is far more likely to have the desired result. The aim of getting back whatever has been denied them becomes the aspiration. Hit a child and getting hit back is the more likely outcome.

I find the results of this survey depressing. The responses show nearly half the parents questioned believe the only way to restore discipline in the classroom is to use corporal punishment. It suggests they feel there is no other way, but it would be a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

To be blunt, it is a pretty unsophisticated reaction from what is allegedly a civilised society.

There are many problems in today’s society but they will not be solved by violence. There is a poem on our fridge at home. Two lines stick in my mind:

‘If children live with hostility they learn to fight.

‘If children live with fairness they learn justice.’

Great Britain will cease to be a civilised society if corporal punishment is reinstated.

There are enough sadists in the world. Let’s not create any more.