Corporal punishment at school : how two parents decided to change things
Corporal punishment was a common and legal practice in many parts of Europe in the 20th century. In Scotland, corporal punishment involved striking the palm of the pupil’s hand with a leather strap called a “tawse”. In 1976 two parents from Scotland submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. In 1986 the Court said that the UK had to respect parents’ objections to corporal punishment at school. The case “Campbell and Cosans v. the United Kingdom” is important as it was the first to consider the issue of whether it is acceptable to physically punish children in schools. It subsequently led to the abolition of corporal punishment in all state-supported education in the United Kingdom, and had far reaching consequences, both in the UK and beyond, in terms of the revision of legal practice as well as in terms of the impact on the wellbeing of many children, their families and society as a whole. It is recommended that the viewing of the video-clip be made in conjunction with the reading of the case, available in the handbook “Freedom(s) – Learning activities for secondary schools on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights” on page 49.