public caning in uk schools

public caning in uk schools
Has anyone ever recieved or witnessed a public caning at school?


Please define your understanding of a public caning.

One could possibly argue that being caned in front of a full class room (a regular occurrence at my senior school) was a public event in so far  as it was not a private one in the  Head’s study.

What do you consider is the bench mark as regards number of observers




Over 200


Surely ‘public’ simply means in front of others? However in the school context of the past it was more likely to mean in front of an assembled group, e.g. school assembly rather than just the classroom.


As yet I am unable to come to any conclusions which can be simply defined.  In particular I am convinced that it is in theory quite possible to have a public caning at which only the recipient and the caner are present, and a private caning where a large hall would be bulging at the seams.

Be that as it may, I shall continue to cogitate on the subject.  However this weekend I happened to be perusing a Malaysian academic paper on whipping as a punishment for Muslim women offenders, as you do1 and I was interested to note that on page 12 thereof there was a statement regarding what constitutes the audience necessary to render a whipping public under Syariah law.  I am not a Muslim and it is my understanding that in Syariah law as in all law which depends to an extent on the interpretation of texts, scholarly opinions may differ.  However it appears that an audience of between a few and one thousand persons may be required.  So there we have it, at least a definition of sorts.

In the Malay States female offenders punished with whipping under Syariah law are generally caned on the back while seated on a stool, so there may be relevance to the caning issue.


think we need to better define the two words; private and public. Private generally would mean ‘behind closed doors’ to use another phrase or meaning perhaps private except to a choice or invited few. For example; a private party.
Public would means ‘open to all’ or in front of others. Just how public something is depends on if the location entirely accessible to the public as a whole. Certainly something could be seen as public but not all may have access to see or take part in something.
Back to whether a school caning is seen as private or public, certainly in my senior school there was a middle situation in that a caning in front of one’s own class would certainly not have been seen private but not as public as being carried out in forward of the entire school, i.e. in assembly.
Canings in the headmaster’s office were generally private but there were occasions when two or three boys were caned there in front of each other. I remember being second in a group of three with each of us receiving three strokes of the cane. Being caned with a witness present would have been considered private but of course not entirely private. All this is a case of how private or public punishments were.


In primary school, the headmaster often smacked boys in the corridor, in the dinner hall, or where ever he saw them being naughty. I am sure this was partly intended to deter others. One or two of the female teachers would occasionally get cross and smack boys in the class, when they were doing something wrong. There was no bending over, bur they would sometimes say “Stand up” to allow them to slap legs or backsides. But I don’t remember anyone making a deliberate spectacle of it. In secondary school, all canings and slipperings took place behind closed doors in a designated execution chamber. But occasionally boys were sentenced to be caned in public. I remember one time in primary school where some boys had been throwing stones (over the wall, at passers by!) and the headmaster came out into the playground, blew a whistle to make us all be quiet, sent the boys to his office, and said “They are going to get the cane, because they knew that was a stupid thing to do.” At secondary school a boy was called to the front of assembly for some vandalism, and he head of year said “After assembly, we are going back to my office, and he is going to be whacked — so hard and so many times that he will quite literally not be able to sit down for a month.” I think there must have been a strong taboo against doing the actual whacking in public.

I believe the LEA regulations said that pupils could not be caned in front of other pupils, but we know that those guidelines were often ignore.


I believe that most LEA regulations were regarded more as guidelines rather than hard and fast rules. The fact that they were not generally known to pupils or parents meant that head teachers could make rules for their particular school provided they didn’t overstep the mark.
I was at primary school in the 1950s. In the infants section there were only lady teachers who slapped legs of both boys and girls in a similar manner. The junior section was in an adjoining building and entirely separate with both male and female teachers. Generally girls there didn’t receive CP. However if a girl really misbehaved she might be sent to the senior lady teacher. I only remember this happening a few times and to the older girls. They were then slapped across the backs of their thighs rather like the infants teachers did but not just a single slap. I remember one girl in my class being sent to her and returned and her saying rather indignantly “She did it across my bottom”. Boys had various punishments from different teachers usually in front of a mixed class. Of course this was the time when many parents still gave spankings at home. I only had one junior school punishment when I was about 10 or 11. My class teacher told me to stay back when class ended one afternoon. Once the rest of class had gone he gave me a telling off and told me to bend over the table at front of the classroom. Then he gave me two firm whacks with a wooden T square. It really hurt but I’d had spankings at home and a few slipperings before that. The whacks he gave me were harder than at home. At home it was more whacks and often without the benefit of my trousers.
At my boys only senior school many teachers gave the slipper in class. I bent over a few times in my first year there. Some teachers did it much harder than others. In the second year I was in a bit more serious trouble and took three strokes of the cane with two other boys from the headmaster. It was very different to anything I’d had before and made my bottom sore for quite a time. Right up to the fifth form the slipper and cane were there for bad behaviour but used less as we grew older and settled down.


Slipperings and strappings at my all boys school took place there and then and whoever happened to be around in the classroom, corridor, assembly hall, changing rooms or gym would be an eager audience. Unless a punishment was thought to be manifestly unfair, most were enjoyed by the onlookers.


Slipperings in the gym were always in public. “Pour encourager les autres”. They were invariably given across PE shorts and were designed to hurt. In the changing room after the lesson bottoms were inspected and carried raised welts of a blue-dark red shade.


Zebedeek and bripuk:
I remember slipperings being given during lessons and in the gym. These were as you both say given in front of the class. I even remember a few canings given that way too. That said I don’t think they could be regarded as ‘public’ like those given in front of the entire assembled school. The headmaster and the deputy head both caned in private however joint culprits were sometimes caned in front of fellow conspirators. I took my first headmaster’s caning with two other boys. I watched one lad take his three strokes before I took the same. All my other canings were in private, three or four from the headmaster and my final one from the deputy head.
At home all my spankings and slipperings were in private as I was an only child.