Posted by: Bruce | June 16, 2015

Corporal punishment in Australian schools (Pt.2) – to infinity and beyond?

The little boy, maybe 3, cried out each time his father whacked his backside and sobbed between. His little arm, the one being used to drag him, keep him walking and upright when he was hit, must have been sore and stretched. His little legs must have been tired, trying to stand and half run to keep up with his angry father who continued to hit him from time to time walking through the crowd.

Warwick Farm, a western suburb of Sydney, once boasted a race track for cars sometime in the 60’s.  On a particular day I was at this track, just a very young kid on my bike who had snuck in under a fence to see what all the noise was about. I shouldn’t have been there and was a fair few miles from home.

I stood, with legs straddling my bike, at the bottom of one of those tyre shaped bridges that spanned the track. I heard, then saw, this boy being dragged by his father over this bridge, past others and me.

The little kid had the runs (diarrhoea), evident on the inside of his legs. Maybe he was wearing a nappy as I don’t recall much showing on his shorts. My young mind someway, now knew why the father was angry.

Without being able to reason it, I hoped someone would interfere. They didn’t. Smashing into the father with my bike crossed my mind but I didn’t, I was just a kid. They disappeared, the memory stayed.

‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’

Well this father sure as hell didn’t spoil his child.

At what point in time did hitting your kids become second nature? The saying is mostly attributed to a satirical 17th century poem, ‘Hudibras’, by Samuel Butler, lightly issued within the context of the poem. In Proverbs (of Bibles), phrases to similar effect can be found but opinions vary as the word ‘spoil’ is not used. A little pedantic I think because the thrust of the proverbs is as clear as it is disturbing.

‘He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him early.’ This from a King James 2000 Bible but all are similar.

Love and hate! Strong words that belong only to the one that penned them. I’m surprised to see these words within the context of a Bible. In fact I resent them, they anger me. They are the words that will be used to justify beating a kid, beating anyone probably.

Being carried through the ages or quoted in Proverbs doesn’t legitimise the words, opinion or the action. Proverbs originated with a person and they can be as wrong as any other, totally wrong.  A theory remains a theory unless good in practice.

Growing up, I learned that parents (generally) smacked their kids, boys and girls, when they were naughty. Smacking could be a hit or two on the bum or a hiding with a feather duster, belt or whatever. Boys didn’t hit girls. You picked on someone your own size or bigger, otherwise you were a bully. You didn’t kick anyone when they were down and you didn’t hit anyone when they weren’t looking; those actions were, and still are, for cowards. Don’t forget ‘wait till you father gets home’ and the legendary kick in the bum from the local copper which stopped a kid from going off the rails. I was also taught that hate is a word not to be used lightly. Bits and pieces and contradictions assimilated to keep me on the straight and narrow, to conform, to grow.

At primary and high school, strangers (known as teachers) could also hit you. Bit like a tag team with parents really. One cut of the cane or six of the best might be had, depending on the judgement and temperament of the teacher wielding the cane.

My kids were little when I decided not to smack anymore. It didn’t happen much but I wasn’t good at it, I didn’t like it. For me, a habit needed breaking and replacing and at times it wasn’t easy. I’m glad I did though, because thinking back, their crimes didn’t justify the punishment. They were just being kids and I should have been a smarter dad.

Broken Cane - NoNeg Imaging

Old habits die hard

Part 1 of this topic originated from a news article headlining corporal punishment in Australian schools. Public and private schools can still hit kids, the laws or regulations exist, not rescinded.

It appears only private schools still hit kids and one of those is, or was, a Charlton Christian School campus in Queensland. With the approval of parents a process of discipline (pt.5), can have a student being belted on the backside, once, with a parent or guardian present to witness the pain and humiliation. Are both girls AND boys physically punished? If not, why not?

A link I kept to an article from a Charlton spokesperson advised that corporal punishment was incorporated and administered in a ‘loving and caring’ environment, or words to that effect; a contradiction in terms that might have impressed me years ago, but no longer. The link has gone and recent searches show little on Charlton Christian School but Western Australia still caters to other private christian schools hitting kids.

A link below is about a school in the U.S. that has reverted to hitting school kids. How many countries overseas carry on the tradition?

A dead end

A child can be physically disciplined from very young to late teenage years……18 yrs perhaps? When does it stop? When the child is no longer a child and might hit back? That’s probably it; hitting is no longer an option, they can’t be beaten into submission.

Hopefully, maturity replaces the need for discipline but what if attitude persists? The adult is forced into new territory, resolving problems without force. There is no easy way out.

Following this line of thought, it stands to reason that parents and schools should be capable of achieving discipline without belting kids, especially little ones. After all, adults are smarter than toddlers. Aren’t they?

Corporal punishment for all?

Outside of home or school, it’s illegal for a person to hit another for failing to comply, to do as they’re told.

An employer can’t hit an employee for sloppy work. A restauranter can’t hit you for not paying the bill. A copper gives you a speeding ticket, not a fat lip. You get a fine for cheating on your tax return. You get dirty looks for not giving your seat to a pregnant woman or an old guy with a walking stick. Prisoners are not subject to corporal punishment.

When I grow up - NoNeg ImagingMaybe corporal punishment should continue past the school years? There are plenty of serious issues are out there but only kids and students feel the wrath of the cane.

Corporal punishment – does it work? I think >>

** For a few students, physical punishment will probably work.

** For the majority of students it won’t make any difference, just make them sneakier.

** For the rest, it will probably backfire with worse behaviour, resentment and perhaps revenge.

Words for today:       Corporal Punishment – a never ending story?

More to come;    Part 1 (link below) – same blog time, same blog channel.


  1. Corporal punishment teaches children that the best way to get a message across is by bullying someone in their turn who is,smaller than they are, and defenceless.

    My parents didn’t hit me, I didn’t hit my children and they have never hit their children. That’s the best kind of message.

    Making a conscious decision to break from tradition and stop smacking your children was brave. It meant that you had to find another way to make them listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • By the sound of it Mary, you and your family stayed out of jail so it’s not necessary to beat sense into kids. I’m glad I stopped smacking, it was better for the kids and selfishly better for me.


  2. I meant to add that I loved that comment you made about not being good at smacking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to be bad at something then.


  3. […] Corporal punishment in Australian schools (Pt.2) – to infinity and beyond? ( […]


  4. […]… […]


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