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Get snippy

Tough methods for dealing with noisy children seem to be catching on in Italy. A nursery school teacher was suspended recently for taping a group of four-year-olds' mouths shut. A few days later, a primary teacher in Milan found a more drastic way to quieten a particularly lively and talkative seven-year-old: cutting his tongue with a pair of scissors. The pupil ended up in hospital needing five stitches.

The supply teacher, a 22-year-old Sicilian, whom colleagues described as "gentle and affectionate", said that it had been part of a game that had gone wrong.

We hope the accident does not add weight to unfair movie stereotypes about Sicilians - unless there are reports of staff punishing pupils by putting the school guinea pig's head in their beds.

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