the most part, corporal punishment in the schools is dying out in
the United States. Though some of today's generation would have a
hard time believing that in the old days one could be sent to the
principal or, even worst, called to the front of the class and made
to bend over and take "licks," back in the old days it was common
place. Be it a ruler, paddle, or hickory stick that drove fear into
the hearts of students, it was the way things were done back in "the
There are still some states where corporal punishment is legal. These states include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
The paddle that the school uses varies in size and shape from school to school. In some cases it's no larger than a ping pong paddle and in other cases it looks more like a standard Greek fraternity paddle. Some have holes drilled into them, and others are solid oak wood. Oh, and just in case you're wondering, the purpose of drilling holes into a paddle is to decrease wind resistance so that a sharper and more painful swat my be given.
The typical way a paddling is administered, at least today, is in the privacy of the office with at least one other teacher present to serve as a witness. The offending student is asked to remove anything they may have in their back pockets, to spread the legs shoulder width, and to bend forward over the desk, resting the palms of the hands onto the desk. 2-6 swats are then given, usually well paced and not too quickly to prolong the agony. The swats are generally given full force and it's not uncommon for some bruising to happen even after two swats, especially to female students. After the paddling the student is usually allowed some time, though not much, to regain their composer before being sent on their way.
In the older days, it wasn't uncommon for the offending student to be asked to come to the front of the class, in front of their fellow classmates, and bend over for their swats. The logic behind the public humiliation of being paddled in front of others was that it would help to remind the other students of what could happen to them if they didn't behave.
Midway between the old days and now, and in some schools today, students are taken outside into the hallway and paddled. While other students typically don't see what is happening, generally they can fully hear. The student is then sent back into their class.
The United States is far from the only country that has used corporal punishment in the schools. In Canada, the United State's neighbor, prior to January 30, 2004, corporal punishment was still legal, unless prohibited by the school board, in Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. However, it should also be noted that corporal punishment was used far less often in Canada than in the United States. As of January 30, 2004, corporal punishment was banned in all Canadian school districts. The instrument of choice that was once used was a strap.
The strap, as was used in Canada and in some European countries, was a black belt about 45 centimeters long and five centimeters wide. It was normally given in private by the teacher who thought the student deserved the strapping and, like in the U.S., one other witness was usually present.
2-5 swats was normally given to the outstretched hand of the offending student. Again, this was not a hurried or rushed process, rather time was took to ensure the student felt every swat that was given. It was only after the punishment had been given that parents were notified that it had taken place. A written record was also required to be filed which told the students name, the nature of the offense, how many swats were given, and to which hand they were given.
In the older days, like in the U.S., the strap was commonly given to a student in front of his or her fellow classmates for generally the same reasons that the U.S. had. Should a student decide not to hold his or her hand out, they were normally strapped on the thigh until they chose to do so.
In the United Kingdom, where the slipper was a common instrument of correction, there was once a time when students had to fear not only being punished with the slipper, but the cane also. In 1987, corporal punishment, for the most part was banned throughout the United Kingdom.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, an English School Cane is not really a cane at all. It is made from rattan as opposed to metal and it tends to be very flexible. Its length typically was between 30 and 36 inches. The length and thickness of a cane determined how it was classified. There were "junior" canes, which were shorter and not very thick most often used on younger children, and "senior" canes, longer and thicker usually used on teens.
The cane could be given on the hand (usually the non dominate hand) or bottom. When given on the hand the typical number of strokes was between 1 and 3 "cuts." When given to the buttocks, the procedure was to usually give anywhere from 3 to 8 with 6 being the normal amount. This is where the saying "six of the best" came from.
The normal procedure was to send the offending student to the headmaster's office. Once there, the offending student was typically reprimanded, ordered to bend over the back of a straight back chair, and grasp the chair with both hands. Girl's skirts were raised and boy's shirttails were tucked up to prevent them from cushioning the blow.
It was far more common for boys to be punished this way than girls. Girls usually received the cane on the hand or they were struck on the bottom with a "slipper" which is really a gym shoe or sneaker Again 3-8 strokes with 6 being the most common was given.
In case of serious offenses, it was not uncommon for a canning to be given to the student in front of the whole school at a formal assembly.