I often wonder if young people, with shiny new degrees lecturing us on TV, in dictatorial terms, with such conviction, have really had any experience of the problems they are allegedly solving. I have met a number of those problems head on, at a time when they were not thought to be so. From the age of eight, I, and many of my mates regularly carried blood blisters on our buttocks or hands from caning. We were high spirited, and when we thought we were right. rebellious, but not vandals, nor did we feel oppressed.
In a music lesson in secondary school, the teacher was playing a record of the Overture to the Mid-Summer Night’s Dream and explaining how a few bars of the music imitated the braying of an ass. Gilly Potter, my mate, and I sat together; we were undoubtedly asses. The teacher replayed the record, Gilly and I, instinctively brayed on queue. I had to fetch the punishment book and cane, Gilly and I received 6 blood blisters on our buttocks to take home.
In elementary school, a poem set for homework was twice tested the following day. After further learning in a classroom, where the rest were being taught something more interesting, those still below par, had to learn again, then bend over and had strokes of the cane punctuating each omission to help the appreciation of poetry. In my own home, a cane hung from a hook on the kitchen door and could be applied for all sorts of reasons. There were other abuses, bullying, clips round the head for incompetence, etc,
At secondary school we were caned by the prefects for minor infringements, like not doing the lines they had given us for running in a corridor. Most of us took it as part of life, it hurt momentarily; it was an obvious risk one took for disobeying the rules, but psychologically, life was so full, we hadn’t time for it to become a real concern.
As to sex, in single sex schooling, and unless we had sisters, we had no truck with girls until we were about 15, and even then we were totally naive; and while there were dirty stories going the rounds, I distinctly remember when I was about eleven, having no idea what the guy telling the story was talking about. Swearing, sex and salacious talk was rare in front of children, to the extent that when an aunt was being divorced, it was only discussed when I was absent, I was ten at the time. Sexual child abuse and other deviances, to my certain knowledge were never aired in general company, mainly because they were ‘not nice’ the final arbiter in so much pre WW2.
Would I be wrong in thinking that religion-supplied recreation and stimulation in the old days served the community well, particularly in those dull, dark winter nights, through clubs, Scouts and Guides and other activities for the young, even if they abandoned it later in life; but that the root causes of delinquency today are through the lack of parental control, exercise, stimulation and also debilitating boredom, not abuse and some of the other factors usually offered? Am I right in thinking, in effect, the parents should be held actively responsible, and there should be more recreational areas and facilities?