THE Press had an article last week, ‘Police chief reports significant rise in anti-social behaviour’. It goes on to point out this is predominantly in the age group 12-16.

After many months of increasingly grim articles by the Press, highlighting moronic acts of vandalism in and around the Dunfermline area, this will have come as no surprise to your readers. I would suggest we are watching chickens coming home to roost.

It was in 1982/83 that use of the school belt came to an end. Today, teachers are spat upon, scratched, grabbed, bruised, kicked in the shins, winded in the stomach, punched, sworn at, attacked with improvised weapons, abused on social media and classrooms are vandalised. Whole schools are burned down. Some 95 per cent of Scottish teachers report low-level disruption.

Against this grim backdrop, the schooling of the vast majority of decent schoolkids is ruined by this feral minority. Last year, there were almost 5,000 pupil attacks on primary and secondary teachers in Scotland. Compensation claims for teachers have doubled in three years, much in line with the increase in assaults. Police Scotland are called out to schools dozens of times each month.

The biggest problem with the abolition, brought about by two naive locals, was that there was no appropriate alternative, eg in some foreign countries, if their child came home having been suspended or expelled, the parents lost their equivalent to Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit which concentrates the minds of their parents remarkably. The Scottish Government looks enviously at exam attainment in the countries of South-East Asia but they have retained corporal punishment.

Against that backdrop, the Scottish Government has recently brought in the Children (Equal Protection From Assault) Act Scotland. Those who wanted to ban smacking disingenuously said that smacking was assault and then argued from that invalid premise. It is not. Parents may not know the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Section 51) but they are well aware that, if they hit a child with a baseball bat, they will be arrested and face prison. They may not know the Children And Young Persons Act 1937 but it made cruelty and neglect of a child a criminal offence. This is all far removed from smacking a child about to put their hand in a chip pan or cross a dangerous road.

We now have a generation of feral children who drink, take drugs, swear, vandalise property, urinate in public, have underage sex, truant, intimidate younger kids, ignore school sanctions (they won’t do a punishment exercise or detention so cause a paper chase for overworked staff), some carry weapons and belong to a gang, some vandalise cars, some abuse the disabled or engage in homophobic or racial or sectarian abuse; they have no respect for their peers or teachers or Children’s Hearings, they throw missiles at our emergency services, light bonfires, defecate at a war memorial or children’s nursery, attack pets and regard the police as paper tigers.

The police, responsibly, take miscreants home where their equally-inadequate parents didn’t know where they were nor what they were doing nor do they care. Opinion polls showed consistently that 75 per cent of the public opposed the ban not least because it is a law which, while politically correct, cannot be implemented.

About 60 countries have now banned smacking. The law is openly flouted and decent parents in Sweden and New Zealand have been unnecessarily criminalised. The law does not tackle the sophisticated, sadistic ones. The Swedish media report growing truancy rates, rising cases of children with anxiety disorders, mental health problems, classroom disruption and a slump in the educational league tables.

We are fortunate that the vast majority of our young people are decent, caring, responsible, law-abiding citizens who are not rampaging around our streets.

As parents, we try to teach right from wrong, encourage them in a code of conduct, keep them safe, have good social skills, be respectful and move towards self-discipline.

Corporal punishment should only be the ultimate deterrent, rarely used and never in a temper. Children will grow up in warmth and love and know parameters.

At present, we reap what we have sown thanks to the do-gooders. Police Scotland are likely to, belatedly, be allowed Body Video Cameras (BWV) soon. One can take part in the consultation. Far more ‘Guilty’ pleas are confidently anticipated. That is for adults. It is the young who need to be tackled with their criminality nipped in the bud.

John V Lloyd,