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School CP - September 1896

Corpun file 21866

The Wanganui Chronicle, 8 September 1896

Locking Up Schools and Thrashing Boys.


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Mr Stanford, S.M., gave a decision at Feilding last Friday which is of some importance to teachers, parents, and pupils. Mr John C. Hill, headmaster of the Feilding State School, was charged by Mr John Toy with having punished his son, Edward James Toy, with undue severity by caning him. It appears that young Toy, who was in the third standard, was kept in after school to do some sums by way of punishment, but that he marched off home without leave, and repeated the offence on another occasion. The teacher reported the matter to the headmaster, Mr Hill. Mr Hill, in his evidence, says:--

"On Friday morning he was in the room when the boy came in, and Miss McDonough then told him that Toy had left the school without her permission the previous evening; questioned the teacher, and then asked Toy if he had left without permission; then proceeded to cane Toy; gave him two cuts and found out that he had a cushion in his trowsers; took him into the lobby, where he found the boy had about a dozen stockings in his trowsers; thought it necessary to punish him to show that he (witness) was not to be duped; then proceeded to cane Toy, to whom he gave six cuts, two of which had no effect; after the punishment the boy went back to his place; the boy went away again without permission on Friday morning; told the boy on Monday morning that he couldn't come to school until he (witness) had seen his father and Mr Carthew (the chairman of the School Committee). If a boy were allowed to defy a teacher it would ruin the discipline of the school; saw nothing else but to cane him as witness had done; considered it better to cane a boy on that part of the body in preference to caning on the hand; did not consider the punishment unduly severe: Toy had committed the same offence on other occasions.

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Under cross-examination, Mr Hill said he "had asked medical men on several occasions as to the least dangerous part of a body to cane, so that he should not inflict permanent injury, and they agreed that that was the best place to cane a boy; had ceased to give severe caning on the hand for the past twenty years; the offence was the greatest a boy could commit; the question was, was the boy to walk out of school when he pleased, or was he to obey his teacher?"

Dr Johnston and Constable Tuohy were examined as to the severity of the punishment. Dr Johnston said that he examined the boy on the Friday, and "found on the left hip two marks about four inches long, and about half an inch wide; there were four marks on the right hip; there were severe bruises and laceration of the skin from two of the marks; there was swelling around the lower bruises."

Constable Tuohy deposed to the father bringing the boy to him on the Friday for examination, and to his finding marks on the boy's hip, which appeared to have been bleeding.

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The Magistrate supported the master. His Worship held "that punishment was necessary for the discipline of large schools, and that an offence of this kind should be vigorously punished. The boy had to be whipped, and he could not say that the whipping was more than he deserved. He would dismiss the case, with costs."

The decision is a very important one. Had the magistrate failed to support the master, the discipline of the school would have completely broken down, and the scholars would have marched out and in as they liked, and have obeyed or disobeyed the commands of their teachers at their pleasure.

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