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Corporal Punishment

I’m old enough to have been given the strap when I was school kid in Scotland. It didn’t do me much harm; but it didn’t do me much good either. The lesson I learned that life is unfair. I can remember teachers taking what we knew as the The Tawse to me twice. Once was at Primary School. I think it was for talking in the line-up to get back into the school at the end of morning playtime. Hardly an offence likely to reduce the Scottish educational system to anarchy. As an adult, I think I’d say it was an over-reaction. The second time that I can remember being strapped was when I was at high school. It must have been in First or Second Year because it was one of the technical department guys who did it and I didn’t take technical as an O Grade. The roster of techie teachers included two sadists, quite possibly certifiable sadists, and this guy was one of them. He took the strap to an entire class. Our crime was that no-one would name someone who had been naughty when he was out of the room. I can’t remember now exactly what was done but it was about the level of writing a swear word on the blackboard. The culprit was a real thug and included amongst his pals, maybe even amongst his family members, some of the most notorious psychopaths in the town. There are still arguments about just how many murderers went to my high school. Anyway, when none of us would name the guilty party, the sadist laid the leather on us all. Once again, as an adult, I suspect some of one of deputy heads might have been interested in what happened. But in those days it never occurred to any of us to bring a real adult into the picture. My other lasting memory of corporal punishment at school didn’t happen to me but I was there. There was a Geography teacher that we all liked. His class was very relaxed but we got the work done. Someone said something in jest that must have touched a raw nerve with the teacher. He took the leather to the boy. We all lost respect for the teacher and were very wary of him from then on. And that’s my contribution to the debate over corporal punishment in schools.

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