smacked his children and hit them with a wooden spoon
assaulted his son using an open hand, and regularly hit him round his legs with the spoon
Rugrat probably deserved it.
a regime of violent discipline over nearly two years
But how times change. Regime of violent discipline? Very light and short-lived by my standards.
Half a century or more ago, such corrective punishment was the norm in most families. I can well remember often being on the receiving end of such discipline (and a lot worse) to deservedly place me back on track. Never did me any harm, but all of us, including mum, did steer well clear of the old man for a week or more at times. And it wasn't the only house in the street.
Such was life, you hardened up and got on with your lot. Not like the pussified children of today hiding behind the anti-smacking law, most of whom are in dire need of a decent 'wait until your father gets home' clip round the ears or a sound thrashing to show them where the straight and narrow lies.