Instruments of correction

Everywhere there are preferred instruments of correction. Obvious one of course is paddle versus cane or tawse or slipper but some may or may not be familiar with switch. 

There is a plethora of sites both fetish and otherwise, that describe the implements. There are others not mentioned as often like the ferrule. We might want to limit it to school and not domestic. The slipper was rarely used here and the strap more often in Canada but was used in the public schools in the area where I grew up in the fifties but only by the principal for the most serious offense and always on the buttocks on August 26, 2007.

A switch makes an ominous ‘swoosh’ sound, rather like a whip, and can be agitated up and down quickly, so the lashes can rain down on the victim, who is usually a spankee, mostly bare bottom so it can ‘bite’ the skin. It hurts. While young children usually suffer it over the knee (or rather the lap), it can be more painful if the discipliner makes more elbow room by ordering the punishee to lie or bend over an object, which can, especially if standing, increase the humiliation.

Switches are most efficient (i.e., painful and durable) if made of a strong but flexible type of wood, such as hazel (also use for a very severe birch) or hickory (see hickory stick); as the use of their names for disciplinary implements, without specification, and as verbs for lashing, indicates, birch and willow branches are time-honored favorites, but branches from most strong trees and large shrubs can be used, often simply nearby from a garden, an orchard or the wild.

Making a switch is simply called cutting, as it only involves cutting it from the stem and removing twigs or directly attached leaves as those would lessen its sting (hence deliberately left on for sauna use). For optimal flexibility, it is cut fresh shortly before use, rather than keeping it for re-use over considerable time.

Parents in the United States (where the wider paddle is the most common spanking implement) are reputed to threaten disobedient children with gifts of utilitarian coal and switches for Christmas should they not reform their behavior, although the actual practice of this is rare to the vanishing point, especially as most people live in urban areas where less suitable wood is easily at hand for the old-fashioned woodshed treatment and most modern educators consider such severe physical discipline cruel and it is often banned by law as child abuse.


I find it fascinating that a paddle was being used in a schoolroom in 1950 in Oregon. Paddles were never used in the public schools in my area far from slavery and the south.

Growing up, if I misbehaved, talked back or didn’t mind my parents, there was one warning and then the next thing coming was a butt whopping. This whopping could have been done by either my mom or dad with the first thing they could put their hands one: a belt, an extension cord, a stick from a tree, a shoe, or a stapler. Never looking forward to this, I tried to abide by all the rules my parents set forth in their household. If I went to grandma, aunt or uncle it was ok for them to give me a whopping as well. They did not even have to call my parents because permission was already given.

When I came down to Mississippi and heard the word corporal punishment, I had No clue as to what that was. After it was explained to me and I called my dad (who is from Mississippi) to see if he believed in it, his answer is, Yes, it was a part of my growing up in the public schools in Mississippi and it is still a very important part of the educational culture in Mississippi. With that being said from my Dad, and knowing that the kids I would be teaching would be mostly black and that they would probably be receptive to corporal punishment because they grew up with it in their household, I had no problem accepting corporal punishment.

Widespread paddling can make it unlikely that forms will be checked. A teacher interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Tiffany Bartlett, said that when she taught in the Mississippi Delta, the policy was to lock the classroom doors when the bell rang, leaving stragglers to be paddled by an administrator patrolling the hallways.

The bottom line is that there are abuses of corporal punishment without a doubt and they’re not as few as many would like to believe. .

Are students learning to avoid annoying their teachers? Are teachers paddling students that annoy them? After a paddling, some teachers say the slate is clean yet how often do hear them say that after Saturday detention? Why? I suspect some may think the other forms of punishment are not as effective but some may be over sold on it as it seems in the MS Delta area. 

Here is a teacher that wants to remain anonymous but is nonetheless just as credible from her Mississippi Teacher Corps blog.

During our first teacher work day, I went to lunch with many of the other teachers. As soon as Id picked up my food, the teacher sitting next to me started grilling me on my discipline policy and asked what I planned to use as punishments. As I went through my list (warnings, writing assignments, phone calls, detentions, office referrals, etc.), she kept barking at me, What else? and then proceeded to lecture me on how the kids were monsters who wouldnt do anything I told them to do unless I paddled them very hard. Other teachers chimed in their agreement, and after a meeting in the library, another teacher pulled me aside to give me more or less the same speech. When the principal started talking about corporal punishment, and I asked whether corporal punishment at the school was limited to paddling or included things like push-ups, the entire staff started laughing at me, and people I hadnt even met spent the next few days teasing me and asking if Id made any kids do push-ups.


I have read through several accounts from the teacher chat boards where more young teachers than not are uncomfortable witnessing a paddling and not necessarily from the pain but arbitrariness and consistency of its use. Why arbitrary? Teachers have their own rules. Why inconsistent? Teachers have their own days. You have to remember it’s the teachers, not the principals that witness and report the behavior or do not report the behavior.

Arrogance is a result of absolute power and there is no checks and balances in schools that don’t give children appeals. The matrices I’ve constructed, not only have appeals but forms that give a student a chance to put into words their grievance. Will the process lead to changes in punishments meted out? With mistaken identity, a paddling can be avoided, even if only once a year, but for amelioration may be quite more frequent.