Caning in Public School.

Assault Charge Dismissed.


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Great interest was displayed in a case at Lancaster yesterday, when the Rev. J.H. Shackleton Bailey, headmaster of Lancaster School, was charged with assaulting Harold James Atkinson, aged sixteen, son of Dr. Atkinson, of Smethwick, Birmingham, on February 1. The case raised the question of what was reasonable punishment.

Mr. Gilbert Jordan, for the prosecution, said that on January 28 Mr. Long, housemaster, reported the boy for smoking a cigarette, but punishment was not inflicted until February 1. The boy put on two pairs of trousers, but was ordered to strip and was held across a chair. The defendant used two canes. The boy received a large number of strokes and nearly fainted.

The defendant’s own description of the thrashing, to the housemaster, counsel alleged, was: “The little beggar came to me with two pairs of trousers on, and I gave him the soundest thrashing I ever gave any boy in my life.” Mr. Long, the housemaster, resigned and the boy was withdrawn from the school by his father.

The boy did not tell his father he had been thrashed, said counsel, because it was asserted that Mr. Bailey told the boy he would be a worm if he could not take his thrashing like a British boy. Mr. Long went to Birmingham and saw Dr. Atkinson, who went to Lancaster and found that the boy’s skin had been broken in four places.

The boy’s account.

Harold James Atkinson, the boy, gave evidence. He smiled when asked if he put on two pairs of trousers. He thought he received seventeen strokes from two canes by the defendant and was very sore afterwards.

Mr. Albert Edward Long, the ex-housemaster, said that when he knew of the severity of the punishment he felt it his duty to resign and to tell the boy’s father.

The defendant said that for nine years he was chaplain in the Navy before taking head of the modern side at Rossall School. He was appointed headmaster at Lancaster three years ago. He had a suspicion that smoking was going on, and made an example of Atkinson and another boy. Atkinson gave no cry and no blood was drawn. After Mr. Long’s resignation the witness found that he had been keeping a diary of complaints.

The Bench dismissed the case.

 


Corpun file 24631 at www.corpun.com

Daily Mail, London, 16 March 1915, p.3

Caning in Public School.


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With reference to the case at Lancaster last week which raised the question of what was reasonable punishment for a master to administer to a pupil, we regret to find that our report of the case did not sufficiently refer to the evidence for the defence which the magistrates had before them in arriving at their decision to dismiss the charge.

The statements as to the number of strokes inflicted and that the boy had been held down were denied.

The boy admitted in cross-examination that he was no worse after the caning, and that he immediately went to the football field and then for a walk. He also admitted having said that the worst part of his punishment was the waiting for it.

Dr. Edmondson, who was called on behalf of the defence, stated that he examined the boy the day after the caning, and the skin was not in any way broken. The boy was suffering no ill effects, and made no complaint about his punishment.

The decision of the magistrates, which was given after a few minutes’ retirement, was received with some applause in court.