Corporal Punishment in Schools

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School Corporal Punishment in the UK

The cane and the slipper were used in many UK schools before a European court ruling influenced Parliament to ban corporal punishment in schools by just 1 vote amongst MP`s in 1986, the ban did not include public schools but many decided to phase it out soon after. Caning policy varied from school to school before the ban, many mixed and all girls schools made girls exempt from caning and all corporal punishment, whereas some schools used only the slipper on girls. But there were plenty of schools around that used the cane on girls, some very rarely, some more frequently. The cane was administered to either the palms of the hands or the buttocks. In Scotland the most commenly used implement was the tawse, administered usually to the palms of the hands, used almost as commonly on girls as it was boys. Since the ban numerous opinion polls have shown that the majority of the general public support corporal punishment in schools.

The Rodney co-educational boarding school in Nottinghamshire, England, (pictured left) was the scene of probably the last of the well publicised canings of schoolgirls, and retained the use of the cane up until the total ban on corporal punishment in UK schools in mid 1998, the headmaster caned the boys and the school founder, Ms Joan Thomas, caned the girls. In March 1991 five 11/12 year old girls were caught sneaking into the boys dormitory at night. The girls parents were contacted about the incident and given the choice that the girls were to be either expelled or caned, all the parents chose the cane so the five girls were summoned to Ms Thomas` study the day after the incident to be punished. All the girls were caned on their bottoms, and the girl that was said to be the ringleader received the more severe punishment of the 5, she was given 7 strokes.

Joan Thomas was interviewed on a documentary about caning in the mid 1990s, and she told of a time when she`d punished two girls and the following day the same two presented her with a box of chocolates. A suprised Ms Thomas said to them: "But I caned you yesterday," to which the girls replied: "Yes I know, but we deserved it Miss". (Enter for Pictures)

Rumour has it that after the 1987 ban on corporal punishment in state schools, Mr David Tough, headmaster of St. Audries Girls` boarding school in Taunton Somerset put it to a vote of teachers, parents and pupils whether or not to carry on caning. The overwhelming result of the vote was to retain the cane. (Enter for Details)

In November 2001 when a group of Christian private schools were going to court to challenge the government`s ban on corporal punishment in private schools, a young girl (pictured left), a current or ex pupil at one of the schools, spoke out in favour of corporal punishment. She said: "I think it is a really good thing to have corporal punishment in schools because even the knowledge of the rule being there makes people better behaved".


In the Daily Mirror newspaper in October 1978 it was revealed in a survey carried out by the Inner London Education Authority that girls were receiving regular canings in some secondary schools, and at one church school in London there was an average of one girl caned every day. The survey also showed that in the previous year, 1977, Twenty-Six girls at the school were caned Three or more times.

In 1984 The Sunday Times newspaper published an article about three schoolgirls who were each given eight strokes of the cane on their bottoms from their headmistress with their skirts raised for stealing a total of about twelve pounds from some other girls at the school. The three girls, two eleven and one twelve year old, were given the choice of being expelled from school or taking a caning, all three chose the caning.

In November 1948, several girls at Brentwood High School were caned for unruly behaviour on the school bus. The same group of girls were then caned in front of the school for getting their own back on the prefect that reported them. (Enter for Article Text)

In the late 1970s a Church of England secondary school called Bacons, in London`s Docklands, was known to cane more girls than any other UK school. More than two hundred canings were administered to girls in one school year.

In 1976 the headmaster at Camden Square school in County Durham held a fifteen year old girl down over a platform while a female member of the teaching staff administered six strokes of the cane to her bottom. The headmaster later received complaints about his part in the caning.

In a magazine article a lady named, Jackie, recalled a strict caning regime at a North Romford Comprehensive school in the early 1960s. She recalled that: "Mere insolence meant the stick for boys or girls." and she also commented: "I well recall having to bend over for eight of the best across thin gym pants for a second offence of smoking at the age of fifteen."

In 1976 The Daily Telegraph newspaper featured a report about a fourteen year old girl at Northwich Girls Grammar School who was given three strokes of the cane on her bottom by headmistress, Janet Dines, for eating crisps in a lesson. In the report the caned girl, Lynne Simmons, commented that she was ordered to pull up her dress and bend over for the caning. A doctor who examined the girl reported that there were three red cane weals on her buttocks, one of which was fourteen inches long. The headmistress was taken to court after a complaint but was cleared.

In her book called, Child of a System, a lady called, Noele Arden, recalls the discipline at an approved school in the 1950s called, St. Christopher`s Place, near Liverpool, England. She recalls being caned on her hands before the entire school for making a fuss about some items of hers that had been stolen. She also recalls running away from the school with another girl but being sent back by the girl`s mother. When they returned, the girls were taken in front of the entire school and both made to bend over a chair for a public caning on their bottoms.

In a magazine article, Sue Nicholson, (pictured left) talked about the 13 years (from 1964-77) she spent with 2 of her brothers at the Moorlands boarding school in Lancashire, England. And in the article she mentioned that "The cane was still used on girls as well as boys." her brother, Howard, also talking of their time at the private school, said: "We learned respect, politeness, discipline. We were caned, but we knew the boundaries. School gave us an edge. We learned to mix in a strata of society.

In 1976, MR. Henry Askew, the headmaster of Heaton Grammar School in Newcastle, England, announced in an assembly that it had been decided that from now on the girls as well as the boys would get the cane. MR. Askew said that the decision had been made after pressure from the female teachers at the school who were fed up with the behaviour of some of the girls. one of the teenage girls at the school commented that the cane would be more painful for the girls because they were not allowed to wear trousers.

In march 1976, The Sunday Times newspaper reported that, Ethel McAdoo, a 5th former at Camden Square Comprehensive School, England, was given 14 strokes of the cane on her backside for skipping a woodwork class. Ethel was initially told to hold out her hand, but when she refused was made to bend over and was held down by the headmaster and a teacher while another teacher raised her coat and administered the caning.

In 2002, the UK`s Channel 4 screened a programme called, classmates, about a group who left The Grange school in Buckinghamshire in the 1970`s, and were having a reunion in 2002. During the programme Mr Redmond, a teacher from the 1970`s who was still at the school teaching, explained the use of corporal punishment in the 70`s, and showed his past and present pupils his implements. He said it was mainly the boys that got it, although a former girl gang member at the school (pictured) later said: "I remember one slipper." (Enter for Pictures)


TV presenters Carol Vorderman & Cilla Black, The duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker-Bowles and actresses Julie Walters and Samantha Janus were all caned at school. TV presenter Fiona Phillips and actress Shirley Ann Field felt both the slipper and the cane. Actresses Liz Hurley and Tracy Shaw both received the slipper.

Right: Fiona Phillips got both the slipper and the cane at school.

School Corporal Punishment in the USA

Paddling is still used in schools in certain parts of the USA. About half of the states in America still use the paddle especially the southern states. Girls are paddled almost as often as boys, even pupils of 16, 17 and over can be paddled. The paddle is a flat wooden board which can vary slighly in design, length and thickness. Some paddles have holes drilled in them to make them more aero dynamic, increasing the speed of the delivery of the swat making it more painful and more damaging. The paddle is designed to be administered to the buttocks only.

In 1981 at the Dunn High School in Dunn North Carolina, seventeen year old Shelley gahsperson was given six hard swats of the paddle on her backside from a six foot two, fourteen stone, football coach assistant principal for skipping school for a day. She was originally put on an in-school suspension for six days which meant that she had to study in a room on her own for that period of time, But after three days she felt she wasn`t being given the proper work to keep up with her important schoolwork and asked the assistant principal for an alternative form of punishment. He said that the only alternative was corporal punishment and that she would have to take three swats of the paddle for each of the remaining three days left on the in-school suspension. The following day Shelley made up her mind to go and see the assistant principal to take her nine swats, the assistant principal told her that six swats would be enough. She then had to bend over a desk for the paddling. Two other girls were also in the study for a spanking that day, also for skipping school. The assistant principal produced a paddle about two feet long, six inches wide, and a quarter of an inch thick. He then gave each girl two swats at a time. Three years later Shelley told a senate commitee: "I could not take all six of them at one time, it was two at a time because the pain was so terrible." she also commented: "It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, both my buttocks were severely bruised."

Pupils at the Faith Christian School in Wilkins defended the school`s use of corporal punishment as their principal and a teacher faced possible charges after a complaint from a parent. An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 13th May 2000, stated - At Faith Christian School in Wilkins, students know that "serious or repetitive misbehavior," anything from cheating to name-calling, can result in several whacks on the rump. (enter for text)

Megan Cahanin (pictured) was given 3 swats of the paddle by school principal Mrs Judy Rials for elbowing a fellow pupil in the school canteen (New York Times - May 3rd 2001). Megan`s parents were unhappy about this, but the district attorney cleared principal Rials after a complaint. Principal Rials commented of the school`s corporal punishment policy: "It's not our favorite part of the day," she said of paddling, which she has done hundreds of times in four years as principal. But it is better than suspension, particularly for fourth graders, who must pass a state test to be promoted. "You can't educate a child if they're not in the classroom," "Keeping children from the classroom could be devastating. It could change their lives."

In 1981 Hartshorne High School homecoming queen Frankie Mass (pictured right) received 3 licks of the paddle to her backside from principal Carl Butler for kissing publicly with football captain Forrest Kirkes (who was also paddled) at the school`s homecoming ceremony.

Becky Patenaude (pictured), was paddled at Harpeth High School in Kingston Springs, Tennessee, USA. In an article in The Tennessean in June 1999, she said: "I didn't get in trouble all the time, but when I did, I was spanked. Most of the kids I have met who are well-behaved have been spanked. And most of the kids who are not well behaved have never been spanked."

Connie Pate, and the entire senior class of approx 16 (8 males & 8 females), were spanked with the paddle at Timpson High School, Texas USA (October 2002), for rowdy behaviour at a traditional school drive by/homecoming parade, and a late show for their first class. The males were dealt with by a school athletics coach, and the girls received their swats in Principal Robert Cousins` office. According to reports bottoms were red and sore. Only one of the parent`s (Connie`s father) appeared to make any complaint which was later regected by the school board who ruled that the Principal`s actions were in line with the school`s policy on discipline. (This was written about in The Daily Sentinel, Texas USA, October 2002) (Enter for Details)

In 1991 fourteen year old, Renee Mull, of Lamarque Junior High School in Texas was given five hard swats of the paddle on her backside for persistent late arrival to school. Renee refused to bend over for the punishment because she thought she hadn`t commited a paddling offence, but the teacher called for assistance and had the girl held down over a table by two members of the teaching staff for the paddling.

Kimberly Jones, an honours student of Bartow High School near Tampa Florida was given the choice of a three days suspension or three swats of the paddle for parking her car on the school`s manicured lawns. Kimberly chose and received the paddling.

In 1981 at Lake Stevens Junior High School the principal administered a staggering eight hundred and seventy four paddlings, about two hundred and twenty were administered to girls. One thirteen year old girl described a paddling she received, commenting: "You have to bend over the back of an armchair and rest your hands on the seat, and then you get paddled. I got two licks." when asked to describe the paddling not suprisingly she said: "It hurts."

Fifteen year old Tamara May of Mesquite High School in Mesquite Texas was due to be paddled for the second time in a year before her mother Ann Torbert complained. The school opposed Mrs Torbert`s view insisting that their right to maintain authority was at stake. Mrs Torbert eventually agreed that Tamara did deserve punishment but insisted that she would come to the school and punish her daughter herself, which was agreed. Mrs Torbert arrived at the school with a thick leather belt and Tammy had to bend over the desk in the principal`s study and was given ten whacks with the belt on her backside. One of the assistant principals who witnessed the punishment commented: "Tammy would have been better off taking the paddle swats from us: her mom really sizzled her behind with that strap." (enter for pictures)

Twenty-seven states have abolished school corporal punishment. Yet, the practice continues with twenty three states still allowing the use of corporal punishment in schools. Over 470,000 students were paddled in the 1993-94 school year (statistics from the U.S. department of education). In Arkansas, over 13 percent of students were subjected to corporal punishment. In the second big-hitter state, Mississippi, almost 11 percent of students were spanked.

A mother who moved from New York to Texas wasn`t too pleased when the result of her daughter breaking rules at her new school resulted in her getting spanked with the paddle. The mother wrote to the Assosiate Vice Principal to complain but was told that this form of punishment was accepted and supported by the majority in Texas. (enter for letter and reply)

In April 1999 17yr old Amber Page was paddled and kicked off the school cheerleaders squad at South Grand Prairie High School in Texas when she was caught smoking by a school administrator. (enter for pictures and newspaper text)

The photograph on the left was taken on open day 1990 at Matamuskeet High School in North Carolina. The 2 paddles are classroom paddles, on careful inspection you will see room 5 written on the top paddle. The principal`s office paddle would likely be slightly thicker and heavier.

Left: The paddles used to get to the bottom of any misbehaviour at Matamuskeet High School.


Actresses Linda Fiorentino and Tatum O`Neill, and models Heather Whitestone and Jennifer Cole were all paddled at school.

Right: Actress Tatum O`Neill was spanked with a drilled paddle at school.

American states that still use the paddle in schools

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming.

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