Bully for Caning

I was caned for violent bullying

I can remember some of the things said like it happened yesterday and not over thirty five years ago, others are blurry and I can not remember exactly how something was said just that is was, for instance I know I was told I had to accept I had been a bully but I can not remember the exact words used.

Although they got it wrong with me and my experiences do reflect that in some of my views on various posts, I want to make it clear I do not think every school in the latter half of the 70`s were whacking their pupils without much thought! For the record my only major problem with SCP and where my interest lies, is the use of it for academic purposes, which leads me on to say despite their best efforts with that dam ruler my choice of words and grammar is still shocking so I warn you if that gets on your goat then really don`t read this!

This it is an account of how I came to get the cane, how it effected me and some of my thoughts of how this may have happened, it does not contain a lot of detail of how I was actually caned because I think that is unimportant. I am aware not everyone feels the same and this is a long post so if you don`t want to waste your time reading a lengthy piece on how someone was tormented, lost their temper and got caned for bullying, without the actual details of the caning, then this will not be the post for you.


Amy and I were friends, she had started at my secondary school a few weeks into the first year. She was placed into my form and as she lived a short distance from my home she asked if she could walk to and from school with me. Ironically she wanted someone to walk home with because she was scared of some of the girls from my area, who could be nasty pieces of work it has to be said! So we did the daily commute and started to spend time together in the evenings and weekends. We got on well I would certainly class her as one of my close friends.

Into the second year and she was moved to the correct form for her name, we saw less of each other during the school day but continued to spend time together out of school. Until one day out of the blue Amy decided she no longer wanted to know me.

There was no row, no falling out, I simply called for her as usual one morning to find she had already left, at school she refused to acknowledge me at all. I tried to talk to her and asked friends to find out what I had done to upset her. No one could find out what the problem was so I left it at that. I was hurt and confused but life moves on very quickly at school, young girls are in and out of friendships all the time that is just the way it goes, so although yes I did miss Amy`s company I was happy to move on. For some reason while Amy had made it plain she wanted nothing to do with me she could not seem to leave me alone and she started her taunting campaign.

It began with the most ridiculous things, I suddenly found myself being asked if it was true we ate off margarine lids at home, did we use newspaper instead of toilet paper and did I have to sleep on the floor because we couldn’t afford beds! We were poor, but we did have plates, toilet paper and I did have a bed!! I found out Amy was spreading these bizarre rumours but they were so stupid I took no notice.

She started deliberately hanging around making snide comments about living in a council house, wearing second hand clothes, not affording holidays, the TV being rented our furniture was all from second hand shops, everything about my home life was a source of malicious amusement for her. She was not stupid she knew to be careful who got to hear, if some of the girls off my estate heard her opinion of those living in council houses she would need to be finding a new school sharpish!

She used things she knew about our house so others may not know what she was on about. My sister worked in the typing pool at the local factory it was a family joke she didn’t chip her painted fingernails in her cushy office job, it was just banter between family but Amy would laugh how some people thought working as a factory typist was a good career. Same with some cushions mum had bought that we were not allowed to sit against, dad teased her about her `posh` cushions we could only look at not use, Amy would go on about how her Mother would only use cheap market cushions in the dog basket.

I had in my naivety given her plenty of ammunition, she knew I found having a bath a luxury, it had not been so long ago I had lived without an inside toilet or even a hot water tap so a plumbed in bath with hot running water was still a novelty to me. Amy lived in a large four bedroom house, no wonder she found my thinking our council house was wonderful because it had bath and hot water so laughable.

I tried to keep out of her way as much as possible, she would wait for me on the way home so she could walk behind shrieking with laughter how my annual holiday was a day trip on a bus and singing Second Hand Rose, she was always singing that dam song! I would take the long route home to try to avoid her.

It did get me down but I really believed the best policy was to ignore her, that was how I had been brought up to believe in the sticks and stones rhyme and to sort things out myself. It was just teasing, nasty spiteful teasing but just teasing. It made me miserable and upset me, occasionally she would pretend to trip and knock into me but I was not scared of her. When she really upset me saying our house was filthy and she had caught something staying there, I told my form teacher, his response was to ask me if our house was dirty and as it wasn’t it did not matter what anyone said. Logic in that I agree but he really was not interested in how much it had upset me.

It went on for months, not everyday, sometimes it would go quiet for weeks, then when just as I thought she had got bored she would start again. It had been quiet for a little while on the day I came across her and her friend in the cloakroom. My form was in a block some distance from the main building when we got to the cloakroom after late registration most pupils were already on their way home. This day I had gone to the PE department before going to get my belongings from the cloakroom so it was all but deserted by the time I got there.

I don`t know if she had waited for me but planned or not she was not going to let this opportunity to torment go. She began whispering loudly to her friend, I should have done what I did every time and walked away but she was calling my mother names, really nasty names and implying she paid our rent with sexual favours. One minute I was putting books in my bag the next I was smashing my fist in to her filthy mouth, I grabbed the front of her dress and shoved her up the wall and shook her, her head was banging repeatedly against the wall. Some one was screaming could have been Amy, her friend or even me. I let her go collected my stuff and went home.

I knew I was in trouble I had hit Amy hard and there was going to consequences. I half expected the police to come for me, I was certain Amy`s parents were going to come to my house to see my parents, I didn’t tell anyone at home I was to upset to repeat what had been said about mum and I thought my parents might be furious with me. I do not want to make my parents sound like they were harsh because they were certainly not but I was told if I ever brought trouble to the door I could expect to feel the belt. This seemed like bringing trouble to the door! I spend the evening in my bedroom worrying about what might happen.

Next morning the message came I was to report to the head of girls office, she along with the deputy head who was currently acting head were waiting for me. They asked me if I knew why I had been called I said straight away I had thumped Amy there was no point in pretending I did not know. They showed me a dress it was Amy’s the front was ripped, it had blood on it. They had seen Amy`s injures she and her mother had been at the school to complain about me. I tried to explain why I had done it but the acting head told me they knew why, it was because I was a nasty viscous bully.

This threw me completely I had expected Amy not to have admitted why I had punched her and to be told there was no excuse anyway, but I had not expected to be told I was a bully. I tried to tell them I was not the bully, Amy was, he shoved the dress at me asking if it looked like the clothes of a bully or someone who was the victim. I kept trying to say why I had punched her it but he said it was typical of a bully to blame the victim for their actions.

I had to listen to how I had been bullying Amy for months, after falling out I had refused her attempts to rekindle our friendship, instead I had turned friends against her, taunted, pushed her around and laughed at her relentlessly. I had hid her belongings she needed for lessons getting her into trouble, I took money from her, I threatened her with violence if she told anyone. Amy`s school work had suffered through the misery she endured everyday at my hands she couldn’t concentrate with fear of what I might do next. In short I had been making Amy`s life hell. They had a witness, Amy`s friend who had watched in horror as I launched myself at Amy unprovoked, my violence purely malicious. The same witness knew all about the bullying poor Amy had been subjected to. I tried to make them understand I had hit her yes but the rest was untrue but I was so horrified and shocked at being accused of bullying I had started to cry. I was told like all bullies I was a coward.

Amy`s mother was understandably furious at what had been happening to her daughter, she wanted me gone from the school. The acting head agreed, he did not want me at the school he was sick of my type, off THAT estate we were all the same from there, none of us were any good, all trouble makers with no future, he did not see why he had to waste his time with my sort and he certainly was not going to lose decent people like Amy and keep the scum like me. Of all the words spoken that day in fact through my entire school days I can remember that word scum like it has just been spoken to me. I had only just reached my teens it was not very nice hearing the person in charge of my school call me scum!

They must have taken my increased distress as fear of being expelled as I was told to calm down I was not going to be expelled they were going to give me another chance. Due to my age and this being my first disciplinary offence they believed I could be taught a lesson, one painful enough to ensure I would never again put Amy or anyone else through such torment, I was going to be caned. I kept saying I was sorry I am not sure what I was sorry for maybe hitting Amy, maybe for living on a rough estate and being scum.

The acting head told me I would be only given this one chance if I should re offend I was out, he made it clear he would have preferred me gone and I was very lucky to be staying at the school. He left the office and the head of girls asked me if I understood I was going to be caned and not expelled. She reminded me it was to teach me a lesson that the school would not tolerate bullying. I was pleading I was not a bully but as far as she was concerned she had a cowardly bully in front of her who`s tearful pleading was simply due to not wishing to take the punishment coming to her and she had probably heard tearful pleading before. I had no choice but to try and take as best I could the six strokes she placed across my backside. I have no idea if they were her `best` or not, all I know is it was extremely painful. She had said I needed a painful lesson, that is what I got!

She told me it was not pleasant to have to give a caning such as the one I had received but it had been necessary. I needed to accept I had been a silly girl and make a fresh start. She was a lady with a lot of authority over me, she had just caned me because she said I was a bully that needed teaching a lesson, I was in pain, upset and shocked, I told her what she wanted to hear, that I knew I had been a silly girl and I would never bully again. Content that I had been taught a lesson she told me to go next door to the sick room to take some time to calm down. I don`t know how long I was in there for but I do vividly remember feeling cold, really cold it was a warm day but I can remember being cold. Nobody came to check on me or throw me out.

I was utterly shocked and ashamed to have been caned for bullying. I was quiet, rather shy and while I was no angel I was generally well behaved, I had never been in serious trouble either at school or home, to get the cane at all was a shock but to get caned for bullying I could not begin to understand how that had happened to me. I hated bullies I had distanced myself from some primary school friends because I disliked how they picked on others for fun, I hated to see anyone being tormented simply because they didn`t quite fit in. I had asked them to leave Amy alone when she first came to the school.

I had seen at primary school how a teacher could be quick to give a smack to a child for misbehaviour they had been incorrectly informed about by another child but the cane was serious and six of the best very serious, reserved for the worse offenders. I truly believed nobody got it unless it was deserved and while I may have deserved it for punching Amy they had made it clear it was for bullying. I thought they must be right, I was a bully they would not have given me the cane if they were not certain I was guilty, but I knew I had not bullied Amy, I had punched her yes, but bullied her no I had not.

To know they thought I was guilty of bullying and very serious bullying at that, was hard for me to take in and come to terms with. Had I been a little more mature and less naive I may have felt outrage and anger that they could get it so wrong but at that stage I just felt shame and confusion.

It was not just that they believed I was a bully , they thought I was no good, a trouble maker, worthless scum based it seemed on where I lived. There were some rough families on that estate we kept away from them, everyone kept away from them even the police didn’t`t go and see then without reinforcements! But that was them, we and many of our neighbours were not like them at all. My parents had low paid jobs, we didn’t have two spare pennies to rub together, but they worked hard, I was brought up to be polite, well mannered, do my best at school, and try to keep out of mischief. I thought people were judged on their behaviour and as individuals I had no idea they were also judged on where they lived.

I had never felt ashamed of my home life, I though Amy had tormented me simply because she was spiteful but now the school had called me no good because I came off that estate, suddenly I felt ashamed of being poor and heaven help me I was ashamed of my family. It all seem tainted the jokes about my sisters painted nails, the posh cushions, instead of enjoying the family banter I snapped it was just working in a factory, the cushions were only cheap things. I told my poor bewildered mother I didn’t want to go on the bus day trips we had recently signed up for I wanted to go on a proper holiday like other people, It`s a wonder I didn’t get a thick ear! I resented wearing the second hand clothes from my sister that I had been so keen to get my hands on. I felt ashamed that my dad and brother worked on building sites and came home dusty I wanted them to wear suits and work in an office like Amy`s dad, I was ashamed that mum went out cleaning in the factory and took extra cleaning jobs so I her horse mad daughter could have riding lessons. Most of all I wished I did not live on THAT estate and I resented my parents for making us move there.

This really was a miserable time for me I think I went through every emotion from bewilderment to shame, from thinking I was a bully, to knowing I wasn’t, the realisation living a decent hard working life was not enough to be thought of as good because being poor made you bad. Anger towards Amy, myself and my parents. I have to say this is not one of my favourite times to recall.

Serious cases of bullying invoked serious punishment, a girl from the year above, the leader of a gang of bullies was expelled, one of the girls in her gang was from my year, she got the same punishment as myself. Given that they took bullying seriously (at least when forced to) it would be expected they would also investigate claims of bullying just as seriously but I am sure they did not do a proper investigation into Amy`s claims, they would not have had the time for one thing.

They could not have asked my form teacher about me for he would surely have remembered I had been upset about Amy saying my house was dirty he couldn’t have possibly forgotten that, it was only few weeks before. They of course had evidence of my violence and I had admitted to it anyway, they had a witness in Amy`s friend but I would have had witnesses who knew about Amy`s tormenting, I had asked them to ignore Amy like I was doing, had they bothered to ask my friends they would have found that out.

I did myself no favours in that office I know, I allowed shock and fear to take over and all I could stupidly do was cry and say sorry but I genuinely do not think they wanted to hear my side of the story and they obviously were not interested in asking anybody about me. They must have simply decided I was indeed the violent bully Amy said I was before I had even set foot inside the office,

What lead them to believe Amy so quickly I do not know, I had not been in any trouble before, even at primary school the bits of trouble I had been in were due to silliness I can`t imagine anything in my records or my character could make them so certain of my guilt.
While of course I have no idea what it was that made them so certain Amy was telling them the truth I do have a few possible theories which I will share.

I was from the rough estate and although I most certainly was not, it is true that virtually all the trouble makers came from there. The school was (and still is) in a smallish rural town attended by half local children and half from the surrounding village’s. I have to say the behaviour from some of the kids from my estate did stand out, most serious offences, including bullying, were committed by some one from my estate or at least they were involved if not the ring leaders. The Acting Head did not like us, he probably had in his time at that school been given a lot of grief by the kids off that estate. One of his favourite insults was to tell pupils their appearance or behaviour made them seem like they must come from THAT estate.

My siblings had been on the wrong end of the cane a few times. I don`t think they got into any serious trouble but probably enough to be remembered by those handing out CP. I would not be the first child judged on their siblings behaviour.

It would have looked like Amy was the quite shy one she was newish to the area and only had few friends. I on the other hand had grown up with lots of my classmates I had a circle of friends which did include some of the more naughtier ones from my old school. Apart from physical differences, I was smaller than Amy, I can see why I fitted the profile of bully and Amy the victim.

It may be that Amy was just very convincing, so very convincing it seemed impossible she could be telling anything than less than the truth. I doubt very much Amy ever intended for me to punch her but I had, so she had to come up with some reason why, she was hardly going to repeat what she had said to cause me to lose my temper. Once she blurted out I had been bullying her there could have been no turning back. I do wonder if Amy had to beg her mother not to come to my house because I am surprised she didn’t, but couldn’t stop her going to the school. Amy I am sure must have been scared and knew she had to make it sound good and maybe while she was at it she could explain a few little difficulties away.

Amy`s parents were keen for her to be in the top sets, once during a dinner party at her house, her parents had proudly told their guests how well Amy was doing at school and when placed into sets next year she would be in the top ones. Well this was news to me I have to say, Amy was not exactly what I would have called a high achiever. I told her they would realise the truth at reporting time, Amy never gave her first year report to her parents she simply told them the school did not bother with reports or parents evening until the second year! How on the earth she got away with that I have no idea but she did, however getting away with it again might have been tricky.

The annual report was due shortly if Amy had a feeling her parents may be less than pleased she was not quite doing as well as they had expected, claiming she was unable to concentrate due to the level of bullying I was putting her through was a rather clever bit of quick thinking, as was explaining getting into trouble for forgetting the correct equipment or kit for lessons. I have been told Amy`s mother was verging on hysteria in the office, the witness had to give her evidence in front of Amy and her mother, the mother was crying uncontrollably and quite terrifying. If true she may have just heard her daughter`s schoolwork had been badly affected by me, no wonder she was so determined I should be removed from the school.

Amy`s mother knew me well, I had been close friends with Amy I was often at their house. She had always seemed to like me but I had injured her daughter and apparently ruining her education, as a mother I can understand her anger against me. I doubt up until that morning either the acting head or head of girls could have even put a face to my name, I don`t think I had ever spoken to either of them before, but here was an adult who did know me and seemed in all her fury to be convinced I was capable of all I was accused of.

There was also the question of politics going on at the school at that time. The Headmaster was a bit of a shadowy figure with a rather complicated personal life he was often absent. It is generally thought the deputies and head of girls were all `in waiting` for the time they could fill the application form for vacant head. I know Amy`s mother was the sort who would wish to deal with the organ grinder and not his monkeys she would have made that know, the acting head and head of girls may have been keen to prove how efficiently they could deal with a serious problem.

As I have said I have no idea what made them believe Amy I am merely sharing some of my thoughts, there may have been no particular reason other than these things sometimes happened. I was not the last person at this school to be caned for something they did not do and a later experience tells me they may not have been overly bothered about the why`s just whack them for the offence anyway. It may not have particularly mattered if I was guilty or not they had a `victim` they had an `offender`, deal with the offender, job done. Of course it was a great sucess I didn`t bully anyone ever again, funnily enough!

I did learn a few lessons though, I learnt about bigotry and I needed to find out about that sooner or later. I learnt how to keep outwardly respectful when all respect once held has gone. My mother was wrong, teachers do not always know best and must know what they are doing. It is entirely possible to get caned for something you have not done. Ignoring bullies does not make them go away although smacking them in the mouth is probably not the right way to deal with them. I can`t say I regret doing it though because I don`t, for what she said she deserved and if I had known she was going to accuse me of bullying I might have made a better job of it!

As a footnote, that annual report , the one I have my suspicions Amy may have been worried about, came out just a few weeks later, my character statement written by my form teacher tells what a polite member of the form I have been, well liked and supportive of my fellow form members . This is countersigned by the head of girls after she has added how well I have done in the year and what a pleasure I am to have at the school. Written and signed I presume by the same hand she had held the cane in as she whacked me for being a vicious little bully only staying at the school by the skin of my teeth!

I share your obvious puzzlement at why Amy behaved as she did. It is very disappointing that the Acting Head and Head of Girls made no real effort to establish the truth when the accusations against you were so serious. Their decisions were clearly wrong, but the standard at the time did tend to be summary judgement and execution based on the “balance of probabilities” (a quote from esteemed contributor Dr Dominum). Twice (once at 8 and once at 12) I was accused of doing serious wrong by adults who did not know me (not teachers). Both times I was totally innocent and there was no basis for the accusation. But I will never forget the total helplessness I felt. I was well aware that children were not believed when accused by adults, even when they told the truth.

Whether such an event would have been better handled in my school in the 1960s is hard to judge. Similarly the hierarchy would have had little or no idea what was going on. We had 1100-1200 boys and most classes had 40 pupils. A small (or not so small) group of troublemakers were well known and so branded, but otherwise I am sure that decisions would have been based almost totally on the events at the time. We were clearly told that anyone involved in a fight would receive 6. Fights were still common, but it did act as an extra deterrent to retaliating against aggression. Even now, Sydney’s class system is based on where you live so the minority who lived in shacks at the time would have been judged on that. To be fair some were rough kids.

Bullying was so much simpler at a boys’ school. Having your arm twisted, being tripped or punched is absolutely trivial compared to what you experienced. I even partly excused the boy who bullied me on the grounds that he was the most caned in my class. I did my best to avoid him and after a while it stopped. Boys of the era were expected to sort out their own problems so even if it had continued I would never have told an adult. I had sick and dizzy spells at the time and visited the sick bay three times. The third time the Headmaster spoke to me, and although he was fine I had the strong feeling it would be better not to visit again. To the best of my memory that was the only time I spoke to either the Head or Deputy in 6 years at the school.

I cannot think that it was easy for you to post such a comprehensive and intensely personal account, but thank you very much indeed for making the effort to do so. I can only say that that is not how school should have been for any child. Faced with such a dreadful misuse of corporal punishment, or indeed any sort of punishment, one can only conclude that the staff responsible were unfit and unsuitable to be in post. The sole redeeming feature seems to be that on the subsequent annual report the Head of Girls described the actual situation regarding your performance at the school and made no mention of the alleged bullying.

But was that a redeeming feature? Did it mean that she now realised that a dreadful mistake had been made but didn’t consider that any acknowlegement or apology was required? Or did it mean that reducing a young girl to a state of terror and tears with the threat of expulsion and then caning her severely was so routine and so trivial to her that a few weeks later she didn’t even recall the incident?

Thank you for this truly exceptional recount. It was most saddening to read, because I have experienced similar but not to the extent you did. One can only maintain sanity by realising that life is not fair, but our individual experiences, even the unjust ones, do serve to make us stronger and better human beings. I look at my experiences that way, and suspect you do as well!

We didn’t cane in our schools, we strapped. Younger children were smacked on the bottom with the open hand. I was too (about grade 2ish a couple of times), but those I experienced could hardly be called a “spanking” – if you want to know what a spanking really was, just ask my mom 45 years back! 

Anyway, I retaliated against one boy who bullied me in the school bus line waiting to go home from middle school one day. I became enraged and lashed out at him. I had a thermos in my hand and attempted to “brain” him with it.

Again in a twist of reality, HE complained and I found myself in front of the principal next morning… he pulled out the thick industrial-belting strap from his top drawer (anyone who read the “Canadian Regulation School Strap” book will know this recount from the Preface). Long story short, I wasn’t strapped but left go with a warning. Had I been, I would likely resent it to this day as the worst injustice ever inflicted on me. Yet ironically, considering my interest in the overall subject, I actually regret never have been strapped at school – it’s a life experience missed from which I have no point of reference to reflect back on.

Injustice happens, I guess it’s how we each deal with it that forms the essence of the people we really are. Incidentally, as a gnostic, I truly believe that Amy has created bad karma and one way or the other, in this life or another, she will necessarily suffer what she has delivered in order for that karmic imbalance to be mended. It’s a universal rule of karmic law (like what comes around goes around)… Some food for the peace of your soul!