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Hand vs Bottom

June 23 2010 at 3:07 AM

This issue has probably been discussed on this message board because I would like to bring it up again. At some stage there seems to be a move towards caning a school pupil's hands rather than buttocks. I feel that as soon as the caning of buttocks was being questioned then we really should have seen a debate on whether school corporal punishment was needed in schools. As a recipient of hand caning I hated seeing the cane slicing down towards the palm of my hand and the awful sound it made and the swollen hands after the punishment. I suspect the lack of padding on the hands would have made the punishment more painful that being caned on the buttocks. I am interested to see if Doctor Dominum has any knowledge of when it was decided that hand caning was appropriate and the reasons behind the change.

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Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 23 2010, 8:58 AM 

Caning hands is barbaric, strokes to the bottom are both safe and painful.

Anyone who advocates caning hands should think about what they are advocating


Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 23 2010, 10:47 AM 

In England the move away from caning on the buttocks gained speed after about 1965. At least this was the case in schools that were completely controlled by the local education authority. This move started because of some concerns in public being expressed as to a sexual connection. At an annual headmasters meeting it was advised that caning be done on the hands rather than the buttocks.

This was not the case in church funded/controlled schools where the cane was still largely applied to the boys buttocks. it was felt the buttocks were a safer area to administer canings than the hands and the buttocks could be given a hard stroke generating the pain required,wihpot much risk of serious injury. Indeed, up to about 1975 it was fairly common for the boy to take it just on his pants or thin PE shorts, while at other times it was administered to the bare bottom.

In private schools, caning up until it was abolished was done mostly on the buttocks, which were often bared for the punishment. This was because private schools had a tradition of doing it on the bottom which was often bared. In private schools many of the pupoils fathers had attended the school, and in their days (1920/30) nearly all canings (which were fairly frequent) were administered to the buttocks which in most cases were bare. As it was alright then, parents regarded it as being alright later on for their sons that attended the school.


Doctor Dominum

Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 23 2010, 11:28 AM 

I'm afraid that I can't be a great deal of help on this question. My experience of corporal punishment comes from a state where corporal punishment in private schools generally involved (and involves) caning on the bottom, and where corporal punishment in state schools involved the strap across the hand, a decision that was taken at the end of the nineteenth century (well, before even I had any knowledge of what was going on). Here at least, the reason for the decision to punish on the hands was because they decided to copy the common practice of Scotland, because this was seen (rightly or wrongly - I am told wrongly) as the mildest form of corporal punishment available, and it was a compromise between those who wanted a total ban and those who wanted retention.

I know a reasonable amount about corporal punishment practices in the rest of the country, but really only since the 1960s or so, by which time the decision to cane on the hand had already been taken in those states where that was the practice here.

My guess is that it was due to concerns about modesty or similar. But that's only a guess.

Ben Howard

Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 23 2010, 11:28 AM 

Thankfully i was never caned on the hands, only a couple of sharpe raps with a ruler to each hand in primary school which at aged 9/10 was bad enough. The cane was in use at my senior grammar school but it was always given to a lads bottom which although very painfull to those on the receiving end did not do any lasting damage. During my five years or so i was caned 4 times by the headmaster sure a very scary and painfull experience but usually deserved and in my case always deserved.
It was part of the disciplinary system and was accepted as such, no boy wanted to be caned but if the occasion arose, well too bad you just had to deal with it as you got no help from your parents on the matter as they agreed with it being used if you misbehaved etc and would fully supported the headmaster using it as it was whenever i found myself in that situation.
Seeing what we have now as a disciplnary system am certain it was a backward step to do away with it and rather surprisingly even quite a good number of teens today would rather see it back and in use as opposed to the soft oftions given out today, suspensions and all that, when a quick 4 or 6 of the best the matter was dealt with very little expense to the education budget


Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 23 2010, 11:58 AM 

In England the move away from caning on the buttocks gained speed after about 1965. At least this was the case in schools that were completely controlled by the local education authority. This move started because of some concerns in public being expressed as to a sexual connection.

George sorry but you aren't correct.

I was at a school (state ) that in 1968 decided that in addition to caning boys now girls would be caned as well. No one, I repeat no one, was caned on the hands both boys and girls were caned on their bottoms. As far as sexual connections any one who has ever had six of the best who finds it seuxal must be on a different planet to the resst of us.

If you consider cp a reasonable punishment then it must be administered to a safe part of the body, you can cane a boy or girl quite hard on the bottom and cause no more than transitory damage,something that you can't do to the hands.

American Way

Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 25 2010, 5:31 PM 

Hand vs bottom FYI. I take it they consider the seat of wisdom for folly is needed as a child grows older.

Opinion time from mambers of this estimable Forum. This vintage photo is based on fetish and not reality but what would be the provenance. Is this an example of the English vice?

My own experience in Catholic High School was the students being sent to the blackboard, called chalkboard now, to solve an algebra problem and the girls being hit in the back of the exposed legs with a pointer.

This picture brought tantalizing memories of the days of yore. Boys never got it for their legswere protected Now they have programs to address math anxiety for girls. This is and having doing algebra with the nun hitting the calves of girls. Do you think it came from 1926?


Dean Clarke

Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 27 2010, 3:24 AM 

Hi Nteedee,

I've noticed from the survey thread that you went to school in Sydney. As indicated by other replies, the question you're asking has different answers in different places, but I can actually give you a bit of an explanation as to what happened in New South Wales specifically.

As you grew up in Sydney, I'm sure you have heard of Fort Street High School. Fort Street was established in 1849 as the Fort Street Model School - the first government school in Australia. Quite controversially for the time, it was a coeducational school. It's name referred to the fact that it was intended to be the 'model' for other government schools. It's first Headmaster was a man imported from England, William Wilkins (his wife was intended to be his deputy as Headmistress, but died in childbirth during the voyage to Australia) who had been specifically selected because of his 'modern' approach to education (he was only 22 at the time he was chosen, and only 24 when he took up his post). He decided that at Fort Street, girls would not be caned, and the cane should only be used with boys rarely and in a moderate form - he introduced caning on the hand right from the start. It should be understood, that in the schools that existed prior to Fort Street - the 'denominational schools' run by the Churches, and the early Great Public Schools (of which Kings is the only survivor), corporal punishment often took the form of canings across the bare backside, or birching. This was something he wanted to avoid spreading into the new National Schools. This was also the very tail end of the convict era in New South Wales history (transportation of convicts had been suspended in 1840 for ten years, and would be abolished in 1850) which meant attitudes towards corporal punishment in general terms were still informed by the up to 500 lash public floggings that were well within living memory. Corporal punishment in some schools had become fairly brutal at times as well in this atmosphere.

And as Fort Street was the model, his ideas became the standard in government schools in New South Wales - from 1854, he was the Inspector of schools, and he made sure his methods were followed in the other schools that were being established. And as time went on, he became progressively even more powerful. When he retired in 1884, he was the most powerful public servant in the Department of Education, and when it came to government schools, his word was, almost literally, law. And that meant that the corporal punishment of girls was against policy, and policy said boys should only be caned on the hand. It also meant that the use of corporal punishment was to be restricted only to the most senior teachers in a school.

The thing is, once he retired, a lot of people and schools almost immediately started moving away from his practices. There was a perception in the educational community that under his leadership, education had stagnated for 15 years (in essence, the 'official' verdict was that he'd built a decent school system from 1850-1870, and from then on it had been allowed to stagnate and decay. His extremely centralised administration was largely dismantled and schools were given more autonomy and freedom. And some Headmasters began to use corporal punishment in different ways from the standard (some always had, actually, but now they no longer had to be as careful about ensuring WW didn't find out). In particular, some began 'caning in the fashion of the Great Public Schools' which meant they were caning on the bottom. And as education became compulsory, the caning of girls was sanctioned - in the beginning at least, it was meant to only be used with incorrigible girls who could no longer be told to simply leave the school if they did not behave. The only one of Wikin's rules on corporal punisment that remain in general use was the idea that corporal punishment should only be used by senior teachers - even that wasn't perfectly followed, but it remained the general rule.

So, from the late 19th century, through the early 20th century, there was a certain degree of official conflict and tension around the use of corporal punishment in schools. You had one camp of teachers and bureaucrats who believed the William Wilkins approach had been the good one and should still be treated as standard - boys caned on the hand, girls not caned at all - and others who were quite happy to see both boys and girls caned, some on the hand, some on the bottom. There was also the fact that, despite the Fort Street co-educational model, as secondary schools (as opposed to primary) were established, they were nearly single sex schools (at least in Sydney - somewhat less true in the country). Fort Street, itself, was split into a boys school and a girls school in 1911.

What eventually developed by about World War I, was a government system of coeducational primary schools (where corporal punishment was used with both boys and girls), and single sex high schools (where corporal punishment was virtually universal in the boys schools, and very rare in the girls schools). Boys schools had Headmasters, girls schools had Headmistresses, and things were pretty separate.

And then c1920, they stated building large coeducational high schools in Sydney, and this created some new issues.

Headmasters were appointed to run the coeducational schools (Headmistresses were considered fine when it came to girls schools, but not for boys schools or coeducational schools). As common practice required corporal punishment be used only by senior teachers, this created a specific issue to be addressed in these new schools - if older girls were to be caned (especially if they were to be caned on the bottom) it was considered undesirable that it be done by a man. But appointing a female teacher to do it, meant automatically declaring her to be a senior teacher - and other male teachers in the school often had strong objections to a teacher with no more experience than themselves being so designated (if the senior female teacher in a school had 8 years experience, for example - and as it was still normal practice to leave teaching once you were married, that wasn't uncommon, men with 20 years experience would not be happy if a decision was made that made her look more senior than them - if you authorised a woman with 8 years experience to cane the girls, it was hard to then not authorise every man with 8 or more years experience as well - but doing that lead to more teachers being authorised than the department was happy with, was also seen by some Headmasters as diminishing their own authority). The union got involved quite quickly and issued its own guidelines to deal with corporal punishment - it recommended to its members that girls over 12 should not be caned (which reduced the pressure to appoint a female teacher as senior simply because there was a need to have somebody to cane the girls, which meant female teachers could be appointed on their own merits), but that if it did happen, girls should only be caned on the hand, which meant that in (what were assumed to still be rare cases when caning a girl was necessary) a Headmaster could do it without the risk of impropriety. These were union guidelines, not rules, but through the 1930s, more and more schools began adopting them.

Then we get to World War II.

In 1941, a Labor government was elected in New South Wales. A man named Clive Evatt (he was the younger brother of the much more famous Bert Evatt) who had been a pupil at Fort Street became the Minister of Education. One of his most decisive acts as Minister, was to suddenly abolish corporal punishment from New South Wales schools - over the objection of his Premier and most of the Cabinet. He was removed from office shortly thereafter, but his successor had to deal with the fact that the teachers union had thoroughly approved of Evatt's radical reforms (they didn't generally agree with the abolition of corporal punishment, but they did agree with attempts he was making to free them from pay based on inspection and similar) and to maintain peace with the union, accepted a lot of their ideas as educational department policy - including promulgating the union standard (corporal punishment to be applied with a cane to the palm on the hand, and not used at all on girls over 12) as the official regulations on corporal punishment in state schools. These regulations weren't always followed over the subsequent decades (if parents didn't complain, a teacher could get away with breaking them) but they remained the standard until the 1980s.


Caned Hands

June 28 2010, 12:38 AM 

Thanks for the informative history behind caning on the hands. As I mentioned in my post I was caned 3 times during my schooling, twice in primary school and once in high school. In 1986 my school sent around a survey for parents asking for responses to the use of corporal punishment. I attended a state high school in Sydney's western suburbs and around this time the abolition of school corporpal punishment was on the agenda.

My father ticked the box indicating that he supported the continued use of the cane to boys and girls in both primary and secondary schools but my mother did not support the use of the cane for primary school children but she supported its use in high schools but to boys only. The survey was on a yellow piece of paper and my parents had to sign it but I cannot remember if my sister took it back to school or they posted it. The result was that school corporal punishment disappeared in 1986 but it was returned in 1988 by the then Minister for Education.

My last caning was in 1986 when my friend and I were caned by our Deputy Headmaster (Mr Petherbridge) for truanting science. We received 3 strokes on each hand and he added an afternoon detention to our punishment. I remember waiting outside the Deputy Headmaster's office hearing the cracking of the cane on my friends hand. We ran our hands under the cold water after our punishment and by the time I was getting on the bus after my detention the pain in my hands and abated to a dull throb, but I still had feint outlines on the palms of my hands where the cane had struck.


Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 29 2010, 1:19 PM 

In England, local regulations often said that a lighter cane was to be used on girls and junior school boys, but a heavier cane could be used on older boys. (This seems to be the only real life basis for the stories about "junior" "senior" and "super-large" canes in fetish stories and old comic strips.) Quite often, it seemed that boys and juniors got caned on the hands, but older boys got it on the bum. This couldn't have been just about modesty - most people would think that older children had more right to modesty than younger ones. I have often wondered whether some headmasters felt that the "junior" cane didn't sting enough through clothes to be a worthwhile punishment, and started applying it to the hands instead. (The same regulations banned pants-down caning: this doesn't mean that it never, ever happened, of course.) The "senior" cane still hurt through clothes, so older boys got their behinds whacked.

People who think that hand caning was dangerous may be imagining people being caned with the "heavy" cane; where I think that the "junior" canes were light, whippy things. Hand canings were very common in state school, but there don't seem to have been many cases of boys being injured: if there had been, you can be STOPP would have publicized it.

Happy to say I never got the cane at either end, but a boy showed me his hands after being whacked for putting a stink-bomb in a classroom, and there were no lines or bruises so it can't have been very severe: I get the impression it was a brief, intense "ouch!" and then all over!



Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 29 2010, 8:46 PM 

Hi Beanokid. You said above:

Happy to say I never got the cane at either end

Oh joy, oh joy! Great to find that after years of loneliness and isolation I am not the only one in that category on this estimable Forum after all! happy.gifhappy.gif

Alan Turing

Lonely uncaned Lurker?

June 29 2010, 9:33 PM 


Great to find that after years of loneliness and isolation I am not the only one in that category on this estimable Forum after all!

But, my dear Sir, I'm also in that category1!

1. Even though I don't have a beard.


Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 30 2010, 12:25 AM 

Happy to say I never got the cane at either end

Oh joy, oh joy! Great to find that after years of loneliness and isolation I am not the only one in that category on this estimable Forum after all!

Well, of course, when I say "happy"....


Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 30 2010, 1:32 AM 

Hi Beanokid,

I was a member of a University department which , through some research became embroiled in a debate over caning in the local schools. I have written about this in detail before, but, the relevant issue is the size of the canes.

During the arguments over this one staff member actually attended our department and brought his cane with him , he said he would demonstrate its force if there were volunteers. Three postgraduates, including myself were prepared to take one stroke. We did. Frankly it stung like hell and in each case left a severe bruise for the best part of a week . I was less lucky than the other two and part of my bruising was blood blister. He seemed to hit similarly to Mrs BB comments on another thread today, with as much force as possible without straining.

The point however was that I'm pretty sure these canes were never intended for hand use, and that explained the furor that had been created locally. They were full size full diameter canes .I would , have suggested they were over 3 foot, and not terribly flexible but memory can be faulty .STOPP were involved in the initial complaints which precipitated this .

A few months later I took up a post as a 'stand in ' at a local comprehensive, again I have written of this before . At the time I taught what was a heavy caning school, in my view to an abusive degree creating a climate of fear amongst perfectly ordinary pupils. , but their canes ( again used on the hand) were shorter and thinner not more than 1/4 inch I suspect by perhaps 30 inches or a little shorter.However the cane was so overused I did not and would not cane in that environment.After surviving two weeks as cover , I was offered a full time job, I politely refused! Glad to say it was closed and reorganized a few years later.

At the time the talk of the staff room was that one boy's family were legally represented and making a claim against the leas for a broken digit due to hand caning. The case was settled with a payment and a gagging order. My colleagues said this was not the first time this had happened. I cannot comment other than this hearsay.

But on the test at the university, I certainly was of the opinion that if this was repeated up to six times, the bruising would be substantial as a very minimum.All the schools I'm referring to were secondary schools , of course. I suspect that if this type of practice had been common , the practice would have died out much quicker.


Bruising on the hands

June 30 2010, 1:50 AM 

When I was caned on my hands my hands were red and slightly swollen but there was no bruising. The marks on my palms consisted of a a red outline where the cane had struck and were usually diagonal across the palm. My Headmaster caned me across my finger tips which hurt significantly more than across the palms of the hands. The difference was that he would order you to hold out our right hand and give you one stroke, then order to hold out your left hand and give you the second stroke. He caned your hands alternately so that you felt the full pain of each stroke on your hands. I think that this method would be in line with caning the buttocks where I heard that some Headmasters would leave a 3-4 second pause between strokes so that the recipient would feel the full pain of each stroke.


Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 30 2010, 2:52 PM 

Frankly it stung like hell and in each case left a severe bruise for the best part of a week . I was less lucky than the other two and part of my bruising was blood blister.

I have been thinking about this episode since you last wrote about it. I think you were unfortunate as I have come across no other example of such an injury happening with a single stroke. It would be interesting to know where the blood blister formed. Perhaps the ball of the thumb (thenar eminence) or the base of the index finger?

Possibly you were hit by the tip of the cane, which can be a bit sharp if not rounded off or perhaps you had a previous injury you were not aware of?

Looking at the other posts here, I think it is quite wrong to hit the fingers, although I think the palm is a legitimate target, as it has been for at least 2000 years. I am sure it is just as horrible an experience now as it was then.

I have however been persuaded by other contributors that a flatter implement similar to a ruler or a strap is preferable to a cane. It is unlikely to cause damage, is easier to land accurately and is highly effective.



Re: Lonely uncaned Lurker?

June 30 2010, 10:27 PM 

Hi Alan Turing. In response to my expressed joy when Beanokid's revelation indicated that I was not alone on this estimable Forum in never having been caned you said:

But, my dear Sir, I'm also in that category!

Of course! How could I have let a momentary inattention so confuse my thoughts! I am deeply grateful for your reassurance. I have always known that we were linked by more than merely that:

We may both owe our presence here to the misfortunes of a female classmate involved in an encounter with a slipper - or then again we may not1!

We both think that Fun Pesters2 should be persecuted to the ends of the earth and beyond, yea unto the third, or even unto the fourth, generation3!

We collaborate excellently in such unlikely projects as the construction of improbable structures in Melton Mowbray and micro-navigation on the streets of Stockholm, with you providing the Mathematical expertise and me providing a certain dogged persistence4!

We can be just a teeny touch competitive regarding one another's posts. Nothing unpleasant you understand, just a touch of healthy oneupmanship5!

1,3,4 & 5:  Even though you don't have a beard. Have you ever thought of growing one? Careful! It might explode!

2:             The term 'Fun Pester' is © Your Local Council.


Re: Hand vs Bottom

June 30 2010, 10:42 PM 


Nothing really to differ with at all with in your post.

I suspect it was probably the tip of the cane, and yes, you are correct the blister was on the ball of the thumb. The rest of the mark was clear for a good few days, following the usual course.

As I said before my own suspicion is that this issue arose because of the use of inappropriate canes on the hand.The issue involved a group of contiguous schools which was how it was identified at the time as a 'hot spot'.

The experiment was intended to show that any bruising was minor and short lived . For once empiricism, in all three cases, demonstrated the opposite to the hypothesis! It couldn't be repeated, because after us three postgraduates, there were no more willing guinea pigs!


Re: Hand vs Bottom

July 1 2010, 6:24 AM 

This topic does seem to have spread over a few threads, but the title of this one is more direct.

There is no doubt that caning on the bottom is far safer. I'm not sure if I could cane anyone on the hand, I'm sure I'd be very nervous in case I didn't hit the palm, and that fact in itself might make it easier to miss the target. Having said that I'm not aware of any incident at my school where pupils were caned on the fingers rather than the palm. We did have a deputy head for a while who caned on the bottom , possibly he too was nervous about missing the target.I did once give a girl at work a couple of token smacks on the hand with a ruler, though this was from very short distance and there was no possibility of clipping her fingers. It was done in fun though.

As for volunteering to be punished to find out the effects, I did slipper a girl at school who wanted to know whether it hurt. I would have been 13/14 and had recently been slippered myself in full view of many girls. After school one day we went back to her house and she asked me whether the slipper hurt. I cannot remember whether I first suggested that I slipper her or she did, but she certainly wanted to be slippered.

I think I must have used her school gym shoe, and she quite willingly bent over for two quite hard smacks. She squealed and did a war dance around the room. I think her comment was to the effect that it hurt much more than she thought it would.There were two other girls present and they both declined a slippering, though one of these girls was slippered for real at school some time later, and may even have been caned, she certainly got into plenty of trouble.


Cane on hands

July 10 2010, 4:54 PM 

Cane on hands was a stupid thing as it carried the highest risk of injury.

The hand has thin skin with many tendons and delicate bones and joints.

The level of pain from a heavy Lochgelly Tawse is just as or more severe and carried a lot less risk of a lasting injury.

The Cane is the impliment to be given across the Buttocks as that area, due its thick skin and muscle can withstand a lot of punishment without risk of lasting injury.

Like wise, the Tawse can be applied across the buttocks with equal effect and little risk of damage.

I attended Schools in Scotland and England and sampled both Tawse and Cane but never experienced
the Cane on the hand i`m happy to say.

A thin whippy Rattan applied with zeal across the buttocks was an experience only those who got it can explain.

The Tawse was just as devastating on either hands or buttocks.

In Scotland it was not normal practice to apply the Tawse to the buttocks but i went on and i know as i and most of my freinds, received many a private after hours lashing across thin satin Gym shorts from 2 very CP driven Gym Masters.Walking after that was painfull never mind the scorched bottom cheeks.

In England i was caned mostly over my trousers and pants but again there were times when that approach was ignored.

Comparing both i would say Scotland used CP more than England but that can`t be known overall.

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