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School CP - December 1955
News of the World, London, 25 December 1955
Marks on Caned Boy Shocked Mother
A WOODWORK teacher who gave a 12-year-old boy three strokes with a cane for cutting a work bench with a chisel did not realise his own strength, said Mr. R.N. Macgregor Clarkson, the Stoke-on-Trent stipendiary magistrate.
After he and the clerk of the court had examined the boy's body, the magistrate fined the master, Roy Barber, aged 25, of Fields-road, Alsager, Cheshire, £2 with £3.3s. costs for assaulting the boy.
He told Barber: "There are still double-line marks to be seen on the boy's buttocks 10 days after the caning. That, in my opinion, indicates that the punishment was excessive.
"I realise it is important that a schoolmaster should maintain ordinary discipline. A lot of children need discipline these days, but the discipline of the barrack square is not ideal in the training of children."
Barber had pleaded not guilty to a summons for assault brought by the boy's mother, Mrs. Harriet Hannah Houghton, of William-road, Whitehill, Kidsgrove, Staffs.
Mr. Frederick Griffiths, for Mrs. Houghton, said her son, Sidney, attended Kidsgrove Secondary Modern Boys' School. During a woodwork class taken by Barber the boy accidentally chipped a piece of wood from a work bench with a chisel.
Barber called the boy to the front of the class, told him to bend down and touch his toes and then struck him three vicious blows with a cane bound with adhesive tape.
Mr. Griffiths added: "The punishment was far in excess of any that would have been meted out in the old days."
Mrs. Houghton gave evidence that when Sidney came home and went to sit down he jumped up suddenly.
"I had a look at the weals and was really shocked," she said. "The blood was just about to break through."
Sidney Houghton told the court that he had completed his woodwork task and was practising on a spare piece of wood when the chisel slipped and accidentally cut the bench.
"Mr. Barber," he said, "told me I would be punished for wilful damage and gave me three cuts with the cane in front of the class."
Barber, who was defended by Mr. J.P. Brodie, said he saw the boy cutting into the bench with the chisel. He examined the damage and from his experience considered it was done wilfully. Several cuts were made.
"I was not angry when I caned the boy," Barber told the court, "but I was irked over the damage to the school property. The strokes were lightly administered and the boy showed no sign of distress at the time."
He added that caning was not a form of punishment he used frequently. The cane was bound with adhesive tape because it had split.
Asked by Mr. Griffiths if he thought the punishment was reasonable, Barber replied: "If I had done that type of damage in my own schooldays I should have expected 'six of the best.'"
Mr. W.J. Davies, headmaster of the school, told the magistrate that he did not consider the punishment was unreasonable.
"I have been caned in grammar school," Mr. Davies said, "and the marks have remained for a fortnight or even a month."
The magistrate, when he imposed the fine, said he was impressed by the boy's story and that he thought Barber was mistaken in believing that the lad deliberately cut the work bench.
He added that he hoped the authorities would not imagine that Barber had done more than exceed what he was entitled to do.
"I do not want it to be assumed," the magistrate said, "that the schoolmaster was guilty of gross bullying."
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