A Good Healthy Caning.

Mr. Bingley Was Right.

By John Blunt.


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I sympathize with Mr. Bingley, the Marylebone magistrate, for refusing an application for a summons against a London County Council teacher who had caned a pupil.

Nowadays there are a lot of people who seem to think that for a small boy to be caned is a humiliating form of torture, but I can only say that when I was at school caning — although probably severer then than it is to-day — was regarded as a rather trivial matter, which, though it caused considerable pain, left no bad blood.

The body was hurt, but the feelings weren’t, and I am not aware that those many generations of boys who were accustomed to being caned grew up into moody or brutalised men.

Nor did their health suffer. They didn’t expect to be coddled at school, and therefore they took their punishments in good part. And these punishments were not so very dreadful after all. A master who overdid his canings would have been pulled up short: most masters, like most boys, have a strong sense of fair play.

Better than nagging.

It is a great mistake to treat boys in too namby-pamby a fashion. Rough and ready methods are often the best, and it is much better to give a boy a caning and have done with it than to nag at him and read him moral lectures. The kind of master who prefaced his caning by the remark that it hurt him more than it hurt you and then wept over you was very unpopular in my day; whereas the kind of master who caned you cheerfully and then never alluded to your delinquency again was popular.

For most boys are naturally straightforward and manly. They don’t bother about a little physical pain, but they hate being slobbered over. To wrap them up too much in cotton wool is no real kindness. It is much more likely to undermine their character than is a spartan upbringing.

Bears no malice.

Of his own accord no ordinary boy declares that he has been unjustly treated when he has been caned. He bears no malice — as in a few days he bears no marks — for he quite appreciates that school life is inevitably something of a rough and tumble and that if he breaks a rule or is lazy the punishment will be short and sharp.