Corpun file 21691
British Medical Journal, 16 February 1935
The Caning of Girls
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SIR, -- In the House of Commons on February 5th the
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education was asked
whether he was now prepared to accept the suggestion that an
official opinion should be pronounced on the medical aspect of
the caning of girls, for the guidance of all local education
authorities. Mr. Ramsbotham replied that corporal punishment had
always been regarded as within the discretion of the school
authorities, and that his Noble Friend did not see any reason to
vary that policy.
It is impossible to believe that the medical department of the
Board has not formed any opinion on a medical question so
obviously affecting the health of the school child, and it seems
to me to be very curious that when so many memoranda and annual
reports are written there should be none on corporal punishment.
Are we to conclude from the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary
that when a county medical officer refers the medical questions
to the medical department of the Board he is told that he must
decide the questions for himself? Or are we to conclude that
advice is given but must not be disclosed?
The views of the Board of Education are set out in the paragraph
on discipline in the Handbook of Suggestions for Teachers,
and the relevant sentences were quoted on page 1178 of the British
Medical Journal of December 22nd, 1934. There can be no
doubt that the Board intends to convey in these sentences its
view that girls should not be caned by men. But some education
committees give authority to men to cane girls. Such disregard of
the views of the Board can only be justified if it is shown,
either that the girls in, for example, the West Riding of
Yorkshire, are much more obstreperous than the girls in, for
example, London; or that the teachers in the West Riding are so
weak that they cannot control normal girls. Either supposition is
fantastic. There can be no doubt that the views of the Board are
disregarded by some education committees, and that if the caning
of girls is to be stopped it will be necessary for the Board to
make a rule to that effect. That is to say, Sir, the policy of
the Board will have to be altered.
-- I am, etc.,
R. L. KITCHING.
Wetherby, Feb. 10th.
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