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School CP - November 1971

Corpun file 19620


Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 1971

Caning of boy was justified, says judge

A teacher ruled yesterday to have been justified in caning a pupil said last night: "I am very happy with the decision."

Press cutting - CLICK TO ENLARGE - Opens in a new window Speaking at his Carlingford home, Mr Albert Gordon Farr of Trinity Grammar School said the court judgment had amplified past decisions on corporal punishment in schools.

Mr Farr was taking classes yesterday and was not in the District Court to hear Judge Staunton say: "The salutary effect of the infliction of pain on a schoolboy, experience might show, justifies the reasonable use of this form of chastisement on healthy teenage boys."

The judge said it was the privilege of a teacher to inflict corporal punishment on a pupil so long as it was moderate, reasonable and not dictated by bad motives.

He said the pupil, Colin James Morris, 15, of Cripps Avenue, Kingsgrove, had deserved a "good thrashing" and, in the circumstances, the punishment had been no more than proper and reasonable.

In a reserved decision, he rejected a claim for damages for assault brought on behalf of the boy by his father, Mr Edwin Morris.

Mr Morris had sued Mr Farr and the school council.

Judge Staunton said Mr Farr had decided to cane Colin Morris after seeing him push a smaller boy violently to a concrete floor without justification:

"I do no think Morris intended any serious harm to the other lad but I am satisfied that the act justified and required some punishment," he said. He said Mr Farr had recorded in the school punishment register that he intended to give Morris three cane strokes.

The boy had then been ordered to bend over so that his buttocks could be struck. After receiving one stroke, Morris had told Mr Farr he had boils on his buttocks.

Mr Farr had told him to bring a note from his parents about this, but they had refused to write one because the boy did not have boils, although he claimed to have had some pimples.

Judge Staunton said he accepted Mr Farr's evidence that Morris' father agreed over the telephone that his son should receive the remaining two strokes and three more cane strokes for lying.

Mr Farr had completed the punishment on April 6.

Mr Morris had inspected his son's buttocks that night and taken colour photographs of them on finding that they were severely bruised.

Colin Morris had given evidence that he experienced pain when sitting for three days after the caning and said the bruising had remained for about three weeks.

The judge said the boy's original act had been a "stupid one which could have had serious consequences and three strokes seemed a quite reasonable punishment.

"To lie to escape more than one stroke, as I find Mr Farr was justified in believing the plaintiff had done, was clearly deserving of extra punishment," the judge said.

"In my view, the additional three strokes were not excessive in number to a strapping, well-covered, 15-year-old boy."

The judge said he accepted Mr Farr's evidence that the strokes were not administered with the full force of the cane and were not unusually hard. He said: "Boys who are caned must expect to have pain -- that is the prime object of this form of punishment."

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