So, recently, I have engaged in a few discussions on the purpose/benefit of corporal punishment. This includes, who does it, when, where, why and how they do it.
As I am raising two boys of my own, I am considering rewards, discipline and punishment and how these may work together to form a child’s (later adult) perception of morality and law. To that end, I am revisiting some of the most memorable beatings (cuthip, cutass, whooping, whippings, canings, cutskins etc.).
I am sharing these here, because it may be useful to those of you implementing to see what the perception is later on. I am also not going to put them all up one time, so bear with me. (the previous paragraphs are your trigger warnings)
The dean of students at the highschool I attended had a cane called “black beauty” that would accompany him when he came to speak to classes and sat leaning against his desk where he would conduct interviews of the students who would potentially be on the receiving end. sometimes, the line would be out the door for students that were late on a particular day or sent to his office for a skirt that was too short, hair that was too long, an earring on a boy or more than two earrings on a girl, etc. I had been part of that line on multiple occasions, and I watched boys and girls in front of me get caned. I never got that public caning (that I remember), but that is the thing about a beating, the butt has a very short memory.
On campus, I never met the dean until 8th grade, but I met him before and whether or not he remembers, I do. We were at a party for some of my younger brother’s classmates. I believe it was aa birthday party. I had to go, but did not know anyone, so I sat watching the younger kids. I was about to enter into highschool (7th grade in the Bahamas). I was sitting between my father and the dean.
My father said,”If he give you any trouble, bust his ass.”
I did not know this man from adam, but I knew that he was the father of one of the kids there and that he would be somewhere on campus when I got to high school. And now, he had free license to rough me up if I stepped out of line. But, any interaction I had with Forbes in the future, would be paired with this single recollection of his license to cut my ass
I am pretty well behaved, so not too worried about that, but I have a smart mouth and get bored easily. so I asked my brother.
He says (and I am paraphrasing), ” Yeah that is *some girl in his class* daddy. Mr. Forbes”
So. I avoided trouble (mostly) throughout 7th grade, except for Mr. Bennet (another post). But, during that time, we all heard about “Black Beauty”. The rumors said it was a metal antenna from a car, or a whale bone, or a wooden dowel, but it was wrapped in black electric tape. Interesting name, I guess and I imagine he thought it particularly witty.
In 8th grade, we had a new teacher for Spanish, Mr. Maximo Alcantara. Funny how I can remember his full name huh?
It was his first semester and in our class was one person who was in French the year before, Devin. Devin and I were cool.
He tried to explain to Mr. Alcantara that he was having trouble keeping up and had none of the books because he was in french the previous year. I cannot remember the words exactly, but I remember Mr. Alcantara being dismissive.
I thought he was wrong and being unreasonable. I said so. Smart mouth and all.
Long story short, he stopped class and walked Devin and I up to Mr. Forbes’ office. So about 27-28 students sitting in class without a teacher, while the teacher takes two students to get disciplined.
In Forbes’ office, Mr. Alcantara got the chance to explain what he saw as us being disrespectful and rude.
Again, I tried to explain that I was only trying to help. I was unsure, Mr. Alcantara understood what was going on and it was not Devin’s fault that the school could not accommodate his schedule and so he was shifted into spanish.
In the end, my first caning in high school was shared with Devin Adams, delivered by Mr. Forbes while Mr. Maximo Alcantara watched with smug satisfaction. I realize I am imagining this because when Forbes beat you you would face his desk and hold the edge while he pulled your pants taught. The door was behind you. and Mr. Alcantara was standing there hands crossed before I assumed the position.
afterward, Devin and I were sent to sit on a planter outside before returning to our scheduled classes. I still remember that sitting hurt, but standing was no different. I remember thinking there was no justice for us because we were weaker and had no power.
I remember never asking a question in Mr. Alcantara’s class again, by choice. Devin never said anything about the event either. Noone in class spoke about it, but when we had our freestyle rap sessions “Mad Max” became a featured topic.
SO in this case:
1: My father gave license for physical punishment to an unknown person in my presence. My perception was loss of autonomy and freedom, fear of this person and lack of justice.
2: Mr. Alcantara removed benefit from the class by stopping it, meaning the whole class was not learning. I like learning so I perceived this as my fault.
3: Alcantara distanced himself from the physical nature of the act by delivering us to another agent (Mr. Forbes), who in turn gave identity to his instrument in the name “Black Beauty”, which may also distance him from the act in some psychological way.
4: There was no assignment of the level of punishment to fit the crime, should I have gotten more or fewer for standing with Devin?
5: indeed I was unsure if Devin was caned for not having the book, for speaking up, or for pointing out the school’s failure to properly schedule him into the necessary classes (wait, that was the school’s fault).
6:the purpose was so that we would not question the authority, who in this case was wrong. There was no improvement of learning or deterrence of a negative behavior.
There will be more in this series, but for now, reply to this post and tell me how you feel about the event here, corporal punishment in general, its efficacy and implementation.
More information on corporal punishment and efforts to end it can be found here:
To Spank or Not to Spank?