Posted on 12 Comments

School Punishments – Are they appropriate?

“Owwwwwww,” I remember one lad of about 12 screaming as he crumpled to the floor after a good old whanging from thunder and lightening, the two pronged leather strap of the maths teacher.

“Aaaggggggh, I’m bleeding.” he yelled next, while showing his hand off in a style that would have pleased Liberace.

The maths teacher smirked while he walked over to the hooks at the side of the class where he hung his prized boy cosh alongside it’s smaller and narrower partner in crime.  Thunder and lightening had come across a boy who’d learned that putting a hair across his palm before being belted resulted in a nice long cut across the hand, and drawing blood was the one thing that teachers weren’t allowed to do when dishing out their punishments.  The maths teacher was unrepentant and the story reached the halls of fame and propelled the boy to a status not ungodlike on school grounds.

Our teachers were allowed to belt us.  A leather belt could have up to four prongs depending on how sadistic the teacher was and how much pain they liked to inflict.  I managed to get the strap only once in my school career and it was when the whole class was lined up and strapped by a wild haired angry woman who nobody would spill the beans to and concerning acid being poured into a sink in science class.  I’ve never forgotten standing and waiting for the belt to make contact with my hand.  I can’t remember it being painful, but I do remember the hate I had for the woman who dished out the unfair punishment on us all.

Thunder and lightening had nothing on my mothers day though.  She vividly remembers a boy who was taken out of class for talking and caned.  He received a birch whip across his derriere several times and that child never spoke out of turn in class again.

We were ruled by violence.  It worked.  Apart from one or two boys who pushed the boundaries, none of us would consider breaking the rules if we were in the class of a teacher known for bringing down a heavy force of pain.

I wouldn’t want to be a teacher in most senior schools nowadays.  I don’t approve of hitting, but I can also see that teachers have absolutely nothing apart from the respect they can command to control an unruly classroom mob.

I think there are limits though.  I know it’s hard for teachers and I know they find it tough to control some children who don’t want to be there and make it well known.  Saying that, some of the modern day punishments drive me round the bend.

We’ve had lines, we’ve had detentions, we’ve had removal of privileges and we’ve had ongoing letters home for the most silly things.  Honestly, if a teacher can’t get children to stop pinging rubbers in school, what on earth do they hope to get by sending a letter home to the parents?  It’s not as if we’re there and can stop the kids going OTT.

So, in short, if a child is ADHD and struggling in class as they need to let off steam in the morning, it makes absolutely no sense to me at all to keep them cooped up inside with no exercise and lead them to fail for the afternoon session as well.   A game of footie or running track, or running errands would be much preferable to me and most other parents of children who struggle to keep it together.

Eldest had a detention in May.  He’s adamant that he did the detention and a teacher is adamant that he did not.  He refused to go for the other four that were set up in place of it and just went for his lunch instead.

We’ve started a new year.  I got a phone call yesterday from his year master saying that the detention still needed to be done.  Raging inside, I told him just to go through with it and get it done.  I’ve been told that doing it now is the best possible outcome that there could be for this, but I can’t see the point in him doing detention for something that happened months ago and spilling over into a new year.  So much for a fresh start every year.

This child is also on a waiting list for resources for extra support in school as he’s not coping.  He’s been assessed as needing the help, yet he has to wait for money to get it.  So much for the new education director for Aberdeen that I sat 5 feet away from a few months ago and told me in no uncertain terms that there was more than enough support for all the children in Aberdeen that needed it.  If that’s true, why is there a waiting list then?

So, it’s punish a child that shows the signs of not coping by issuing lines and detentions and then when they’re assessed as needing extra support, lets just not give it to them as we don’t have the money but we’ll carry on punishing them for doing things because they need the extra support.  That makes great sense doesn’t it?

Part of me thinks a quick strap was the better option as it was over and done with as soon as something was done, and not this mental torture of dragging things on and on and on.  And coming from someone who doesn’t even believe in smacking, that’s a sad way for me to be thinking.





12 thoughts on “School Punishments – Are they appropriate?

  1. Sometimes I too feel they need to being back the strap or belt in schools. That it might sort out some of the difficult kids with no boundaries set at home. The ones not with medical issues, or social ones even, but those ones that are just little shits.

    I’m 31. There were plenty of them in my first year of high school. Unruly children. Teachers could not keep them under control. No learning was taking place. I was bullied, and others too. I often wished the teachers would give them the strap!

    If My son was being bad in school I’d not have an issue with it. If it was done right. And fairly. Not like your example of everyone getting it becaus done wouldn’t fess up.

    But it’s tricky. I think in general were all too soft. I remember fear! Of my parents, of getting into trouble, of being caught by police when playing near the railway tracks when we “got a chase” but now… I think kids are different. Society is. Soft touch Britain and all that.

    Lines achieve nothing. I remember that from school too. Detention? Also useless with most. They’d just come out and do the same things again. I don’t know what else I imagine working… As back in the day a letter home WOULD have scared me senseless!

    I do think its a problem though. One that needs rectified and fast.

    1. I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to change any time soon. Kids laugh at lines and detentions and most of them laugh at exclusions as the only people they punish are the parents who have to be home for them instead of earning money. It goes to the ridiculous where some teachers won’t even take the hands of 4 and 5 year olds who are being really naughty in case they are sued I imagine. It’s no wonder lots of children are unruly by secondary school as they know nobody can really stop them if they want to cause problems. I’d be happier with things like rubbish duty or clean up duties instead of lines and detention as that would have more effect as being a real consequence but no doubt someone would cry human rights and most schools would say not enough staff or resources to work it.

      1. Definitely punishes the parents! Those who do work that is even more so for loss of earnings but then there’s those parents with medical issues too that could be even more stressed having the kids off for punishments and around the house

        I can’t see an end to it all either.

        Blame culture. Suing. Health and safety gone to far nonsense. And of course “it’s my human right!” OTT nonsense brigade…

  2. Of course we know the strap isn’t the answer, it happened in my day too but with a stick, I never got hit at school, if I did I would have got it at home too once my dad found out! But I also had steam coming out of my ears reading about that detention! I would NOT have let your son go through with it, the words “or what” although immature, do spring to mind, what exactly would happen?? There are other ways and also this is too long ago to be of any use, he is no kind of teacher if he thinks that is appropriate at this stage for your son. I’ve been through the school system once and am ready this time (she starts in Sept ’14) because I really won’t put up with this kind of pettiness!

    Off to make tea and calm down, look forward to hearing how you go forward dealing with this, I know it’s easy for me to say but I really am so against detention amongst other school punishments! Practice saying “or what” and see what happens, I’d be interested to hear his alternatives when you say detention is not acceptable 🙂

    1. I’ve already got him off one detention and one exclusion so I was wary of sticking my ore in with this one considering I want them to give him extra support when the money ever becomes available (if ever). I removed one child from school over punishments that were much much worse than eldest has suffered and I struggle to be listened to in some quarters as I would imagine from the school removal incident, I’m considered a “difficult parent.” I’m not comfortable with the detention from the last school year and I’ll put it in his files that I felt it was inappropriate. The or what is likely to have been exclusion and that’s been threatened a few times. I felt it was easier on him to do the detention sadly, than have it hang over his head at school which is a sad way to think.

      I really detest detentions as they are useless in how they affect most children from what I’ve seen. They seem to be more to appease the parents of other children who behave in school. I don’t know how often I’ve told them that if kids are acting up in class, it means they are not coping in most cases. I know my eldest finds a detention easier than doing lines, so he’ll deliberately not do the lines. For lines, they have to copy out a behavioural paragraph that to be honest, the kids don’t actually absorb. They just regurgitate the words as fast as they can and carry on as they did before with a little more distaste for the teacher who issued them. In some subjects where he hasn’t a clue what’s going on, he’ll deliberately chat to himself or walk around so that he will get sent to the behaviour base rather than have to sit bored and unable to do the work as the class is too noisy or advanced for him. Secondary school has been a sore point with me so far, but he’s generally well liked as he never holds grudges and I’d like to keep him in school.

      I was angry after the phone call, but I calmed down after a few hours and weighed up the possibilities. For him, the path of least resistance was to do the detention, even if I was mad as hell about it. Thanks for the comment. I wasn’t sure if other people would also think a detention carried over from the previous school year was OTT.

  3. I think bring up children is hard and some only respond to a clip round the ear (shall we say). Parents hands are tied too. Both in punishment / discipline and being able to let your child play out. We are imposing rules on ourselves that our parent and grand parents did not have to follow. Then when are children are older and have massive attitude problems we ask why.

    1. Our children nowadays are far more restricted than we were which is sad, but also often necessary too. The cars on the road are what makes the difference for me. We used to play in the streets from morning to night, but here, the neighbours complain if the kids are playing and laughing too loud and there are too many cars for them to do the things we did, even playing games like kerbie or just chatting to pals and running around. With my middle one, it means he is tied to the house if I can’t take him out anywhere as he can’t go to the local park alone, or with his brothers as I won’t allow them to have to be responsible for another child. I really dislike seeing older children being made to run after their little brothers and sisters while they are out as it means they don’t get a chance to be children themselves. Fair enough if they like doing it, but most are made to do it. Last week I saw a child about 10 with a sister that could only have been about a year old at the park. I think that’s nuts, but appreciate everyone has different tolerances.

      I find that most discipline tends to punish the parents more than the kids and I really detest things like naughty corner and naughty step. For me, that just teaches kids to have a complex before they even understand what it is and the few times I tried it, I ended up with a foot through the plasterboard on the stairs and a spindle broken in the ensuing tantrum. I tend to remove favourite things and keep them at home when they go OTT, but to be honest, that’s limited in how well it works as it just gets them angrier. Agree that many kids will have massive attitude problems when they’re older. Mine act like adults now and they’re far too young to be there.

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