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A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

March 2 2007 at 10:42 AM

Some schools had a definite policy as to whether pupils should be caned on the hand or the bottom. In others it was left up to each individual teacher. Does anyone know of any instances where the pupil had the choice of which part of the body the punishment was to be administered?

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Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

March 2 2007, 11:47 AM 

Only on buttom,with shorts on..


Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

March 2 2007, 1:07 PM 

I think that the hands were the prefered area for girls and the bottom for boys. Just to say I have never agreed with caning on the hands - far too dangerous - the bottom is "natures place" and safe for the intensity needed for a good deterrent.



Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

March 2 2007, 1:19 PM 

I think this was very common indeed. A was told boy a boy who went to the all-boys comprehensive in my town (where caning was more common than at my mixed comp) that teachers generally offered a choice between hand or bottom. Boy George mentions in his autobiography that the teachers at his school offerend him a choice. In the STOPP anti-corporal punishment book, there is an account of a boy who was going to be caned on the hands, but "offered" to take it on the backside -- the assumption seemed to be that taking it on the hand was a milder punishment (hurt less, less embarassing) but that the teacher would enjoy caning his bottom more. I think that at my school, first time and minor offenders got 1 or 2 on the palm, but serious or repeat offenders got 6 on the bum. I have often wondered how teachers offered the choice: were these prissy teachers even prepared to say the word "bottom"?

Wiorldwide Traveller

Caning in South African schools

March 3 2007, 11:38 AM 

Here in South Africa caning in schools was common right up until the early 90’s. The caning of girls was also much more common than in UK. Girls though were generally but not always, caned on the hand. I recall chatting to a couple of girls from South African Airways who both attended government, Afrikaans speaking schools and were caned more than once. One of them when asked to hold her hand out, asked if she could rather have it on the bottom but the teacher apparently refused.


Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

March 4 2007, 1:07 PM 

Choice of on the hands or bottom was not very common after about the mid 50's and was left up to the teacher. The period after 1965 saw more caning done on the hands following advice from teacher organisations. they were afraid teachers who caned on the bottom may be accused of doing so for sexual motivation.

Before this the bottom was prefered far more than the hands for two reasons.

1) a stroke that landed on the fingers could damage the finger joints. I never heard of a caning on the bottom causing bone damage.

2) the number of strokes was greater then and a caning on the hand would result in the hand being too sore to use.....a good excuse for not working.

Two reasons prevailed for offering the boy a choice of having it on the hands or bottom. both these were because of the increasing concern about the way the cane marked or cut.

1) Some boys had skin conditions and many up to about 1960 had boils. These boils were often on the bottom aND UNLIKE a slipper, would break if hit with a cane. One can imagine the pain this would cause the boy and parents reactions to seeing the boils had been broken. Thuis was one reason why some teachers caned on the bare bottom.

2)If a teacher caned on trousers he had no way of knowing if the boys bottom was already sore from a caning that day, or a few days ago from another teacher or his parents.Worse still if the boy had just been slippered by another teacher.The situation could arise that a boy may have got six of the cane from the head for an offence. Later in the day, unaware of this a teacher could administer another three strokes across his bottom for failing to do his detention from earlier in the week.While parents would agree the punishments were deserved, but three more strokes on top of six already received that dat would leave horrific marks on the boy and would not be acceptable. By offering the boy a choice of having it on his hands or bottom the teacher partly covered themselves. The fault would rest withthe boy for taking the second caning on his already sore bottom.



Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

July 23 2007, 4:22 AM 

We didn't have a choice as to wether we were caned on our hands or bottoms. Schools caned on the hand and when I was caned in the fourth and fifth grades and in first form I was told to raise my right hand and then my left hand. If I put my hand under my armpit or rubbed my hands after a stroke I was told to raise my hand again. For my last caning in first form the deputy headmaster gave me one additional stroke for putting my left hand under my armpit.


hand or bum

July 14 2011, 1:28 PM 

Went to high school in the mid 90's who used the cane. I personally got caned on 4 occassions and each time was across the bum. I think this was for 2 reasons:
1: Hitting the hand could lead to more serious damage and
2: The canings hurt like hell and the bottom can be given a number of very hard hits wiothout risk of lasting damage


Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

July 25 2011, 7:27 AM 

I attended a catholic boys high school for my secondary education and the leather strap was the implement used for corporal punishment. Most of the schoolmasters had a leather strap which consisted of leather strips sewn together with hid and a couple of the straps had a light strip of cork between the leather strips. You were given a choice as to whether to receive the strap on your hands or your buttocks. The head of the school had a strap with the cork and he strapped me twice, each time I had the strap marks on my bottom and I could see where the sewn area of the strap had hit my bottom.

The first time I received the strap my science master gave me the option of six with the strap on my hands or six with the strap on my bottom. I chose to receive my punishment on my bottom forgetting as I had only received corporal punishment on my hands with a cane during my primary school education and forgetting that I had swimming lessons that afternoon. My bottom was soundly whacked with the strap and after the second whack I was fighting back tears. I chose to receive the strap on my hands a couple of weeks later and I received six whacks across my right hand. Ultimately I chose to receive the strap on my bottom for the next nine strappings I received during my education.

On my last strapping I managed to stay bent over for the whole punishment as I had built up a tolerance to the vicious sting. Personally I think that choosing to receive my punishments on the one area of my body was a wise choice as you knew what to expect.



Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

July 25 2011, 7:47 AM 

OzSchoolboy wrote, in part:

Most of the schoolmasters had a leather strap which consisted of leather strips sewn together with hid and a couple of the straps had a light strip of cork between the leather strips.

Please, what is "hid". Are your sure the material was cork? What was its purpose?


Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

July 25 2011, 8:11 PM 

With us, there was no choice. It was always given on the hand. You might just get a single slap, but 3 on each hand was the usual. The leather [strap] was the only implement in use and all of the nuns and teachers carried one with them and most were prone to useing it for the slighest reason. Even a single slap, delivered with the mildest of force would leave your hand in throbbing agony. Can you imagine then the effect that 3 on each hand [given with a Venus Williams type swinging action] would have on the poor girl at the receiveing end. Often too the tip of the leather would connect with the rump of the hand or the thumb. This not only added to the pain but would also prolong the period of hurt.
Positioning the hand too was very important. Some girls would hold their hand out to the side, but I felt doing this was inviting the slap to hit the thumb. I always doled my hand out in front of me so that the leather made contact along the length of the hand. I found that getting slapped while seated in my desk was the worse of all. That way, there was no alternative but to hold the hand out to the side and because the proffered hand was at a lower level, the leather would make contact at the end of it's natural swing. The pain that followed would be serious.


Strap construction

July 25 2011, 11:55 PM 

To KK,

I did not know why some of the schoolmaster's straps had the piece of cork in them until I spoke to my older sister who became a schoolmistress. She told me that the cork gave the strap extra weight so that the strap had a little more force behind it and it stung more. My sister's strap did not have cork in it but she told me she when she gave the strap she would administer the strap to the bottom and there was no choice for the recipient. What I meant to say was that the straps were sewn together with thick string and when I had my bottom whacked with the cork strap the outline of the stitching was visible on my bottom.


A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

July 26 2011, 7:30 PM 

Oz School boy

I have never been on the receiving end of a strap, either at home or school. I can well imagine what you say that it was very painful. But a cork layer between the two straps sewn together ? That cannot add much weight to it. As well all know cork floats in water. It may well add something to the feel of the strap, bulking it out to make it appear thicker, or by putting a filler between the two straps, may have made it stiffer and more manageable.

What I am wondering has there been an misreading of the word, cork/coin ?
I have read that the Jesuit brothers, put either one or two old big pennys in their straps between the two layers sewn together to give them more weight. Could this be the case ? Could someone with more experience than me give some insight into this ?



Those stitched in coins in punishment straps.

July 27 2011, 12:08 AM 

Hi willyeckaslike. More practical experience I certainly don't have, but I've come across references to stitched in coins several times and in several places. Here's one from a reliable contributor to this estimable Forum found very quickly from the search mechanism. I'm sure there are lots of others here.

Externally, plenty to be had. Here's an extract from the findings of an Investigation Commission into abuses in the Magdalene Asylums in Ireland on this page:

The leather straps: The official instrument used to administer corporal punishment was the leather strap. There were two kinds: one was a single piece of leather a 1/4 of an inch thick (0.63cm). It was about 19 inches long (48.2cm), and 2 1/2 inches wide (6.3cm), with one end shaped to form a handle. It was used to slap the palm of the hand. It weighed 5oz (147grms)

The second kind was a doubler. It was made in the shoemakers shop from two layers of leather approximately 2 1/2 inches wide (6.3cm) and 22 inches long (55.8cm). The two strips were sewn together and, again, one end was shaped to form a handle. Br Antonio (pseudonym), who worked in Ferryhouse, confirmed that coins were sometimes inserted between the two layers of leather when this strap was being assembled. He told the Investigation Committee:

"And they (the witnesses) are right what they say, because I opened the leather myself and saw there were coins in the leather strap, which were stitched in the shoe shop."

I must say the idea of a layer of cork inserted in a punishment strap stitched from two layers of leather surprises me. Agreed while new it might make the strap more rigid, but surely the rigidity would detract from the punitive effect rather than increasing it. The whole point of a strap is that it moulds itself rather nastily to the portion of the anatomy being punished. If the cork added weight to the strap that would indeed increase the pain, but having a very low density it wouldn't add appreciably to the weight.

Further, surely the flexing of the strap and the impacts during punishments would anyway rapidly cause the cork to crumble and disintegrate? Definitely sounds odd to me. I'm sure there is a logical explanation for the use in that particular context of the straps described by OzSchoolboy. I just can't think what it might be.




July 27 2011, 12:42 AM 

A cork layer would effectively, in my opinion, turn a double layer strap back into single layer. The impact of the top layer of leather would be greatly mutted by the cork beneath. Cork is soft and spongy and would absorb the shock rather than transmit it to the hand beneath.

If cork and coins have been confused, as seems likely, those reporting the presence of cork are likely to be reporting hearsay and not personal experience.


Strap construction

July 28 2011, 2:33 AM 

Admittedly I am not a physicist or engineer so I cannot comment adequately to the above replies to my post. The layer between the strips of leather looked like cork and was quite flexibe. It may not have been cork at all, what I do know is that there seemed to be more weight with those straps than the ones without the middle layer. Other factors include the force of the swing by the relevant schoolmaster. Some of them really wanted to cause you great pain and I overheard one schoolmaster preferring to administer a short sharp shock with his strap rather than a sound strapping.


Bottom caning

July 28 2011, 5:53 AM 

Punishment by caning should always be on the buttocks preferably bare,if it is to be effective.My mother who was herself an school teacher used to say that unless kids have their bums reddened,they would not be good citizens.It appears that God has made human behind fleshy so that they can be chastised there.


Hand of bum.

August 9 2011, 9:19 AM 

JUNE, Would you have preferred the punishment on the bottom?; I know it would hurt, too. Slightly more embarrassing; but less painful?

Mike Weston

I was given the choice once aged 14.

August 9 2011, 11:42 AM 

I wound up before the Headmaster on consecutive days. Fortunately my offences were minor otherwise I suspect that I would have been suspended.

On the second day, having caned my bottom the day before, he asked me if I would rather be caned on the hand rather than on my backside (the word he used).

Having been caned on the hand once before - one stroke aged 10 or 11, I didn't want a repeat so opted to take it on my bottom.

Hurt like hell on top of the bruises from the previous day. No-one to blame but myself for my stupidity in winding-up in that situation.



Re: A Choice - Hand or Bottom?

August 9 2011, 12:47 PM 

Hi Chris----I don't think I'd have perfered getting it on the bottom in front of the whole class [or anywhere else for that matter]. It was humiliating enough holding your hand out for a slap. How much worse would it have been to bend over and maybe even to drop your skirt.
In the year above mine, there were four girls who operated as a gang and were notorious bullies. On weekend nights, they would often burst into our dormitory and pick out, maybe, ten girls. They would place a chair in the centre of the room, then each girl would in turn, have to lower her knickers, bend over and take, often up to six lashes across her bottom. On all too many occasions, I was on the receiving end of this. The resultant pain was different to that the hand punishment. There was very little throbbing, but a burning heat that came in waves. The afterglow too lasted much longer.

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