In the UK, corporal punishment was banned in 1986 in state schools and 1988 in private schools. Yet, as late as 2011, a survey conducted by the Times Education Supplement reveals nearly half of parents of secondary school children say corporal punishment should be reintroduced.
49% of 2,000 parents surveyed were in favour, compared with 45% who were opposed.
The vast majority of all parents, and that of the 530 pupils surveyed, said teachers should be able to be tougher on pupils.
They were also concerned that teachers had become fearful of pupils.
The research however showed a slight decline in support, as a 2000 TES survey found 51% of parents in favour.
Parents expressed support for traditional punishments, including sending children out of class, after-school detentions, lunch time detentions, expelling or suspending children.
But when asked about “smacking or caning”, support dropped to 40 %.
Embarrassing children was the least popular with only 21 % supporting it.
Teachers unions are saying these attitudes are motivated by government statements and the media giving the impression that the classroom was a place of disrespectful behaviour.
Union representatives said teachers needed consistent support from management, along with appropriate sanctions and rewards, “not the right to hit children”.
They raised the issue of funding cuts in behaviour support services.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said assaults on teachers were common in the 1960s and that behaviour had improved since corporal punishment was banned in the UK.