Corpun file 19671
The New York Times, 12 December 1907
Teachers Favor Flogging.
Say Corporal Punishment Is Necessary for Discipline.
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That corporal punishment is a necessity in the public schools
to protect the women teachers from degrading insults, the
children from the demoralizing influence of bad companions, and
to save if possible the few bad boys from utter ruin by the only
power they will understand was the unanimous voice of the school
Principals and Commissioners who met at the call of the Public
Education Association at the house of Mrs. James A. Scrymser, 107
West Twenty-first Street, last evening. The subject for
discussion was the conditions that have led to the demand for
The speakers also acknowledged frankly that corporal punishment
is actually in use in the public schools, brought about by
conditions that make it practically unavoidable.
"The grossness of insult to which the women teachers suffer
I could not recite in your presence," said John Doty,
Principal of a Rivington Street school. "They suffer daily
from indignities to which I do not think any human being could
submit and keep their temper and their hands off the perpetrator.
That is the very worst kind of corporal punishment -- it is not
punishment, but retaliation, but I do not blame the teacher.
"I asked President Burlingham of the Board of Education what
he would do if a boy of fourteen did thus and so to him. 'I would
knock him down,' he answered. Then think of the effect of this
disrespect for the law upon the other children.
"In 1872 or 1873, when corporal punishment was given up, we
had two methods of redress, expulsion or elimination by a process
of refrigeration. In 1894, when the compulsory education law was
put in force, we lost that power, and I tremble to think what
would happen if the law was really enforced. It is that which has
led to the present conditions in the schools. All punishment is
more or less corporal. The reform school is corporal punishment,
and to my mind a flogging does less harm. There is no corporal
punishment for men, but if a man resists arrest he is clubbed
until he submits. Surgery does not cure, but it saves life --
gets rid of the evil that good may come.
We cannot leave punishment to the parents. I have known a father
to knock his boy down and kick him in the ribs until I took him
away. Flogging should only be resorted to in a few instances, but
I have never known any punishment by God or man that was not
based on the corporal."
Commissioner Nathan Jones, Chairman of the committee to
investigate the subject of corporal punishment, told of the
difficulty there had been even in having the commission appointed
against the wishes of the city Superintendent. He told of a
personal experience, where a young woman teacher in one of the
schools had been sent to him by her Principal. One of her boys
had used such vile language to her that she had felt obliged to
punish him, and had gone to the Commissioner as a matter of
self-protection to tell him the story.
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"I thought if that were the case with her," said the
Commissioner, "there must be many others. Of all the
Superintendents to whom I have written to ask about corporal
punishment, the majority have been overwhelmingly in favor of it.
The others have said that if they did not have corporal
punishment there must be some method to preserve discipline.
Commissioner McDonald read extracts to be presented to the Board
of Education asking for corporal punishment. William McAndrew of
the Washington Irving High School said that he was theoretically
and sentimentally opposed to corporal punishment, but from his
experience with boys' schools he considered it necessary.
In a letter from Miss Lida Williams she said: "The chief
cause of the demand for the return of corporal punishment is the
persistent lessening by the Board of Education and the
Superintendents of the authority of the school Principal, a
consequence of the effort to administer every detail of this
enormous system from 500 Park Avenue.
"There is a fourth right that a boy has besides that of
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: that is the right to
be led by compulsion or persuasion to obey where it is for his
own usefulness and happiness."
The Public Education Association was not represented among the
speakers for corporal punishment.
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