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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Press Report - Youth Service Scheme

Background information to the YSS series of stories. From Blushes 2
SUNDAY 15th OCTOBER 1995
Youth Service Scheme
by our Education Correspondent
The government announced last night that the controversial Youth Service Programme will now definitely go ahead. Parliamentary time is to be made available during this present session for enabling legislation to be passed, and given the government’s substantial majority it is likely that the bill will be on the Statute Books before the Christmas recess.
In outline, the programme will be one of conscription for almost every young person under the age of eighteen on 1st April next. Those in full-time education will be exempted from the full weight of the bill’s implications, but will be required to complete a period of ‘basic training’ at some time during the first twelve months of the programme’s operation, with obligatory retrospective enrolment into the scheme should they for any reason cease to be in full-time education. It has already been pointed out both by the programme’s critics and its supporters, that poor exam results at ‘O’ level stage, or other examinations at intermediate points thereafter, would have the effect of consigning poor scholars to the Training Programme. Critics say that the result would be to set up an elitist division between those who have the ability to keep their places at school and those who have not, whilst supporters claim that the resultant stimulus to academic achievement would be generally beneficial.
The programme’s main aims, it is claimed, are to promote an awareness of moral standards by disciplined education methods, a measure rendered necessary by the undisputed decline in the social, sexual and work-oriented mores of young people since the watershed of the eighties. The Education Minister’s statement made at a meeting of the CBI last week, mentioned work-training and the achievement of computer skills as one of the aims of the programme, but he made no secret of the government’s hopes that a ‘moral renaissance’ will be brought about, which he would see as a prerequisite for any improvement in Britain’s world competitiveness in the third millennium. On the vexed question of the wholesale reintroduction of corporal punishment for both boys and girls involved in the scheme, he would say only that exhaustive psychological research into the matter had indicated that corporal punishment, if subject to proper regulations and controls, was likely to have an advantageous effect rather than the opposite.
A document ‘leaked’ to several newspapers last week revealed that the regulations to which the minister referred were somewhat Draconian. ‘Cadets’, as the conscripts will be known, will be eligible for corporal punishment regardless of sex, caning apparently being the preferred method. Such punishments will be at the discretion of Commanding Officers and their staff and up to eighteen strokes may be administered on the bare buttocks. A spokesman’s reaction at the time to criticism voiced chiefly by opposition MP’s was that lax standards of social behaviour could be traced back to laxity of discipline in schools and in the home. This government, he said, ‘can no longer subscribe to the view that acceptable standards of behaviour can be achieved by the psychological lobby alone, without the support of more direct methods of reward and punishment. A caning or two in the mid-teens might well obviate the need for more drastic measures, such as imprisonment, in later adult life’.
JP denies law abuse
A Justice of the Peace yesterday denied allegations that he had ‘taken the law into his own hands’ when he spanked a girl whom he caught stealing apples from the garden of his home in Hampstead. Mr Justice Aubrey Whittle, 59, claims that the 1993 Public Order Act invests any officer of the judiciary with the power to chastise errant youngsters below the age of seventeen, and that spanking — which Mr Aubrey Whittle administered on the girl’s bare buttocks — is an ‘approved’ form of punishment for girls of her age.
The girl’s parents are understood to have dropped their complaint after taking legal advice and they were not available for comment. The girl herself (her name may not be published) issued a statement to the following effect:
‘I was pinching his apples — I admit that — but I don’t think he should be allowed to spank me like he did. He made me get across his lap and then he took my knickers off. He spanked me for what seemed ages — about ten minutes I would think.’
Asked whether she thought she would go ‘scrumping’ again, the girl said she didn’t think she would.

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