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School CP - April 1930

Corpun file 23734 at

The West Australian, Perth, 25 April 1930, p.4

School Punishment.

A Claremont Prosecution.

Headmaster Exonerated.

Click to enlarge

Arising from a caning which he gave a boy, aged 14, who had been reported to him by a master, Canon Parry, headmaster of Christ Church School, Claremont, was charged by the boy's father, in the Children's Court, Fremantle, yesterday, with having assaulted the boy. He pleaded not guilty. Mr. F.F. Horgan, S.M., occupied the bench. Mr. F.G. Unmack appeared for the complainant (Joseph Lewis Weir), and Mr. J.C. Forman appeared for the defendant, while Mr. B. Canny watched the interests of the Church Schools Council.

Mr. Unmack said that it was not disputed that defendant had a right to punish a pupil. The point at issue was whether or not the punishment administered was excessive.

Dr. H. Field Martell said that he examined the boy on the evening of March 21, the day on which he was punished, and found a bruise on each buttock -- one two inches and the other 2¼ inches in diameter. There were also horizontal weals across the buttocks. The bruises remained on the boy's body for about three weeks. Witness took the boy to Dr. Welch, who examined him and agreed that the caning had been too severe.

Joseph Lewis Weir, the father of the boy, said that when his son came home on March 21 he appeared to be distressed, and told witness that he had been caned at school. Having examined the boy witness summoned a doctor. The boy had not been able to sit down for two days, and the bruises had disappeared only a week ago.

The boy stated that as a result of his conduct in a detention class on March 20 he was reported to the headmaster for punishment. He went to the headmaster's study about 11.15 o'clock the next morning with another boy. Mr. Parry gave him three cuts with a cane and he rolled on the floor in pain. The other boy was given six cuts, and witness was told to wait aside. When the other boy had been caned, witness was given three further cuts. The punishment was administered with the boys standing in a stooping position. He had been caned by Mr. Parry and other masters in the school on various previous occasions, but not so severely as on that occasion. In the afternoon, he went to see the Australian cricketers but could not sit down as he was too sore. The other boy who had been caned with him was not badly marked. He had been reported for talking in the detention class. He had informed the master in charge of the class that he had torn the pocket of his coat.

Cross-examined, the boy said that he had attended the Christian Brothers' College, where he had been punished with strokes of a strap, on the hands.

Dr. E.S. Welch, for the defence, corroborated Dr. Martell's evidence with regard to the boy's condition, and said that he remarked, when he saw the boy's buttocks, 'That's a fair caning', implying that the punishment had been scientifically administered as the weals were close to the same spot or in the same place. He emphatically denied that he had agreed with Dr. Martell's contention that the punishment had been excessive. From an examination of the boy's condition he considered that such was not the case. He had had infinitely worse canings when at school, and he did not consider those to be excessive.

Lionel Walpole Parry, the defendant, said that he had administered what he considered was a fair punishment. He had not caned the boy in anger, but in support of the discipline of the school. The two boys had been reported to him by a master for continued interruption in a detention class. He had publicly warned the pupils at the school that, in the event of any boys being sent from a room by a master punishment would be inflicted. He gave one boy six cuts successively with no less force than that applied to the two lots of three administered to the boy Weir. He had 19 years' experience as a schoolmaster, and had found that a stroke of a cane on the buttocks always left a weal. The first he had heard of any ill-effects of the punishment on Weir was when his father had rung him up during the evening. He had nominated Dr. Welch to examine the boy.

In answer to Mr. Unmack, witness said that Weir was a nice boy, but bubbling over with spirit. During the term he had frequently given trouble to a particular master. The class had been retained after the remainder of the school had been dismissed because of the general behaviour of its members during the afternoon. During the detention, the boys were inclined to be talkative, but, after having been spoken to, behaved themselves, but the two who were caned continued to interrupt, and, after speaking to them several times, the master in charge reported them to witness. To his knowledge no boy had left the school because of excessive punishment during the seven and a half years in which he had been headmaster.

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Peter Corsar Anderson said that he had been headmaster of Scotch College, Claremont, since 1904. From a description of the boy's condition, he considered that the punishment had not been excessive. It was not unusual for a boy to receive six cuts of the cane, and the resulting marks often lasted for about three weeks.

The boy who was caned with Weir said that when the master was speaking, complainant's son informed him (the master) that he had torn his coat after the master had called for silence in the classroom. It was a rule of the school that pupils should raise a hand when they wished to say anything to a master. He (witness) had received six cuts and did not wish to complain of his punishment.

After further evidence had been given the Magistrate dismissed the case. He said that he had no hesitation in saying that the punishment had not been excessive. Mr. Weir had, unfortunately taken a wrong view of the matter. He (Mr. Horgan) held strong views with regard to parents interfering, directly or indirectly, with the disciplines of schools. The fact that Canon Parry had been brought before the Court was sufficient to endanger the discipline of the school.

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