30 years ago

20th January 2006 at 00:00
A cri de coeur, not dissimilar to those heard today, came from Patricia Craig, a teacher in a List D school (for troubled pupils), in The TESS of January 23, 1976:

"A few weeks ago, I was assaulted by a 13-year-old girl and was told no further action would be taken about this as the child was disturbed at the time. While I am very willing to accept and understand her disturbance, this was by no means the first time such an incident had occurred, and I question whether we were doing the right thing in accepting that sort of behaviour.

"Will her future employer accept it and excuse it, simply regarding it as a manifestation of a disturbed background? I hardly think so, and I think the sooner we help a child to realise certain types of behaviour are not acceptable, the easier it will be for that child to be accepted again in the outside community.

"I am by no means advocating a return to a punitive system, but I feel the time has come to stand back and assess honestly whether or not we have become too obsessed with psychology, or indeed whether or not we are over-compensating for what may be years of deprivation. Psychology has its place but I do not believe it should be allowed to become the great panacea. It is very comforting to feel you can find an explanation for all behaviour and it is much easier to accept and excuse deviant behaviour if you feel you know the reason behind it. But it is not always very honest.

"There really are some children and adults who, although well-adjusted, are basically bad... We must resist the temptation to become over-obsessed with psychology and work too many mystic meanings into simple happenings.

"(Many) non-experts use techniques and analysis they do not really understand, with very little benefit and indeed sometimes with a great deal of damage."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today