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(prisons, reformatories, fraternities, armed forces, religious cults, etc.)

Fraternity paddling

With comments by C. Farrell

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NOTE. Some other links to documents on military, prison and reformatory corporal punishment are to be found in the Country files section.

blob External links concerning domestic (parental) CP are to be found on this separate page.

Military: Naval
Military: Army & Air Force
Reformatories, etc.
Religious cults and youth groups
Masters, slaves and servants
Fraternity, fun, folklore



Customs of the Canadian Navy: Laws of the Sea and Punishments
Some fairly familiar stuff about the cat-o'-nine-tails. Mentions that there is one on show at the Maritime Museum in Nova Scotia.


Indian Navy Midshipmen
Mentions canings with a "Penang Lawyer", described as a strip of rattan.

South Africa

General Botha Old Boys' Association -- Feb 2004 [PDF]
Scroll down to "Where are they now?" for a reference to receiving punishment "cuts" on this South African naval training ship (later "nautical College") (1922-1987). "You used to don a canvas 'broek' [trousers] and bend over the gym horse for the occasion."

United Kingdom

Cane, part one
Reminiscences of "cuts" (caning) for cadets at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in the 1940s.

The Britannia Museum: Education and Training of Young Officers at Dartmouth
At this museum in Dartmouth, Devon, are displayed some punishment records of famous naval cadets at HMS Britannia.

Eaton Hall, 1943
During WW2 the Royal Naval College aka HMS Britannia (see previous item) was evacuated to a stately home in Cheshire. According to this piece, one cadet was caned in front of the whole assembly in the gym for stealing peaches.

PWSTS Dover Memories
Recollections of the Prince of Wales Sea Training School in Dover (England), a college for 16-year-olds wishing to join the Merchant Navy. Scroll down to "The PWSTS 1973" for mentions of formal canings in the Captain's office as relatively recently as the 1970s.

book coverRiding the Waves of History
Interview (2005) in the American National Review with historian Arthur Herman, who has written a book about the British Navy. He notes that in its heyday 80% of navy crews were under 25, so it was essentially a navy of young lads, and this, in his view, is why so much CP was needed. I have not yet seen the book itself, which may or may not have more information about CP.

Watts Naval Training School
A boys' residential establishment in Norfolk (UK) run by Dr Barnardo's, which closed in 1949. One account stated that, until 1926, boys were formally caned on their bare bottoms, with their fellow trainees mustered to watch. After that it was inflicted over shorts. But this version of events is contested by other former residents.

Watts Naval School
On a different website about the same institution, some recollections of the CP regime in the 1940s from Edward Jones and James Tither, revealing that there was a temporary reversion to bare-bottom caning.

Watts Naval Training School, was it that bad?
Yet another former inmate of this place describes receiving a public caning there (six cuts over thin trousers) in the 1930s, for running away.

Hangings, floggings and keeping the crew in line
A short piece in The Scotsman about naval discipline in former times.

Stick and Book
Recollections of canings -- in the 1960s, I think -- at Holbrook Naval School in Essex, UK.

Definition of this unofficial punishment involving striking the offender on the breech with a flat piece of wood. From an 18th-century "dictionary of the marine".

Origins of the navy
Website supposedly about the Australian navy, but the historical stuff actually refers to the UK navy. Some references to CP, but the only source cited is Rev. Wm Cooper's notoriously unreliable oeuvre (1877).

book coverBligh was a victim of snobbery and spin
"Observer" review (Sep 2003) of a book which overturns all received wisdom about the mutiny on the Bounty. According to this, Captain Bligh was a hero, not the flogging-mad sadist of Hollywood legend.

The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty page with more reviews of this book (see previous item).

Broadside: Crime and Punishment
Some fairly standard information about the flogging of seamen in Nelson's time.

Albert Spavins at T.S. Indefatigable
The author was a boy at Indefatigable when it was a land-based camp in Wales during World War II. A mass caning is described.

TS Indefatigable, Anglesey
Twenty years later, in the 1960s, nothing much seems to have changed. Inedible food and bullying still prevailed.

T.S. Wellesley: Ken Wright
Detailed recollections of a former inmate at this naval training ship in north-east England in the 1950s. He says he got six strokes of the cane on numerous occasions.

TS Wellesley
More on the above, from a different witness of the same period. Caning was "done with only trousers on, underpants were removed". Absconders were always caned.

Lydney Days
Training Ship Exmouth in the 1940s. Brief reference to public canings across the bare buttocks. If true, this would have been against the rules.

HMS Conway
Life on board the UK training ship HMS Conway, which was mainly for youngsters proposing to become Merchant Navy officers. Several references to corporal punishment, both official and, apparently more common, unofficial.

A Few Naval Customs, Expressions, Traditions and Superstitions
Reproduction of a booklet produced in the 1920s by a Royal Navy Captain. See under "The Articles of War" for various references to flogging and other punishments.

Akbar Training Ship
Another boys' training ship, but this one was actually a floating reformatory, moored off Liverpool, and the scene of various scandals over the years. Some references to caning and birching in this well-researched article by respected local historian Joan Rimmer.

Some years ago a 98-year-old ex-Akbar lad wrote about his experience of life as a boy on board the Akbar Training Ship
More on the above, with a graphic first-person account of a birching.

Naval Traditions, Customs, Phrases
Brief explanations of "running the gauntlet" and "flogging" in the Royal Navy.

Lights Out, No Talking: The Punishment Book
Chapter 16 of an autobiographical book about life on a naval training ship for boys in the 1930s, with plenty of caning (known as "cuts").

Early History of Shaftesbury Homes & Arethusa
A naval training ship for homeless boys, inaugurated in 1866. Punishment consisted mostly of up to 24 "cuts with the birch".

blob For more links and documentation about naval CP in Britain, see Corporal punishment in the Royal Navy.

United States

Tough discipline at sea in early days of the Royal Navy and USN
A not necessarily 100% accurate "History Corner" piece in the Coeur d'Alene Press of Idaho.

Shadow of the cat [PDF]
Turn to page 18 of this 1987 issue of a US Navy magazine for an article describing floggings with the cat-o'-nine-tails, before CP for sailors was abolished in the mid-19th century. The procedure seems to have been much the same as in the British Navy.

Flogging in the Navy
A page put together by the US Navy Department Library, including the text of an 1840s paper A Plea in Favor of Maintaining Flogging in the Navy, together with a brief history of the practice up to its abolition in 1862, a couple of contemporary drawings, and a bibliography.

Richard Henry Dana, Jr: Advocate of Social Justice
A man who campaigned against flogging in the US Navy in the 1840s.

Naval Discipline -- Flogging
Unpleasant contemporary descriptions, with illustration, of flogging in the 19th-century US Navy. A page from a punishment book is also shown.


Scapegoat of the British Empire?
Paper for the South African Military History Society about a 1903 scandal in which young British army officers were illicitly punished by flogging. See also these Feb 1903 news items.

Boy Soldiers Behaving Badly
Recollections of the Duke of York's military school in Dover (see following items) in the 1950s. In theory only the Commandant could award formal CP, which was administered by the Regimental Sergeant-Major, on whose office wall was a rack of canes. Six strokes were given for running away, and one of these punishments is described under "The Great Escape". The culprit had to pull his shirt out of his trousers and was held bending over a large oak desk, the proceedings observed by the medical officer. Less officially, as described under "A Darker Side", there was at least one housemaster who carried out nightly caning sessions in his private quarters, and another teacher who caned an entire rugby team for losing a game.

Duke of York's Royal Military School: Reminiscences of Companies and Houses
1852 Crime and punishment
Reflections on the Punishment book for 1874
A Flippant Solution
A school inspector's report
Just a few of a large collection of pages about this army school, latterly based in Dover, UK, but originally in London. In 1923/4, boys arrived there from the Royal Hibernian school in Dublin, because with the coming into being of the Irish Free State (now Republic), Dublin was no longer in the UK. (See also the next item below.) Two "Hibs" boys were caned with pants down in front of the assembled school, according to this.
 In the 19th century, while there were canings, it is interesting to note that most of the punishments recorded were not CP but hours or days of drill. The cane is described here as 5 to 6 feet long and of bamboo. I suspect that it would have been shorter than that (anything much over 4 feet long would be hard to manipulate with any accuracy), and probably of rattan (people often talk about bamboo canes, but bamboo is actually not suitable for CP because too rigid and liable to break). The modus operandi is given here in detail.
 Flippant was supposedly a boy at the school before the First World War. The humorous anecdote here might be apocryphal, but even if not actually true it is illustrative of the attitudes of the time. The "birching" referred to would in fact have been a caning.
 "A school inspector's report" dates from 1846 and mentions that there were several floggings every month at the predecessor school, some of 24 strokes.

Correspondence: corporal punishment
More recollections of caning at the above-mentioned army school in the 1950s and 1960s.

Royal Hibernian Military School, Dublin (1765-1924)
Quotes from this army school's regulations dated 1819. A drummer was employed, whose duties included inflicting corporal punishment on the boys.

A History of the Provincial Corps of Pennsylvania Loyalists  (Alternative link)
A member of this British-supporting army in 1777 was sentenced by a Court Martial to "severe corporal punishment" (no details given) for desertion, according to this.

Digger History: Discipline
About the punishment of members of the Australia and New Zealand armed forces. Includes a picture of a cat-o'-nine-tails and a picture (source not cited) of a man's back after a "light lashing" with it.

Military service in Russia Empire
From a website about tracing family histories in what is now Latvia. At special schools for soldiers' sons in the 19th century, the military education was based on the use of the birch for punishment, according to this.

Historian's ancestor had role in Lewis, Clark journey
Reference to floggings given to members of this military expedition to the Far West of the USA in 1804.

Brigadier General William Mahone
Includes an anecdotal description of a flogging ordered by this American civil war general.

Students at Columbia Military AcademyColumbia Military Academy: Stories and Remembrances
Here, paddlings were given with baseball bats that had been planed down at the business end. The procedure is described.

Children's Human Rights: The Future Starts Here
A Tamil boy in Sri Lanka describes being beaten on his buttocks by soldiers with sticks from a tulip tree.

Fort Henry: Punishment
Flogging continued until 1881 at this Canadian army establishment. There is a drawing of a flogging from 1812.

The Private Soldier under Washington
Chapter of a book published in 1902. Deserters typically received 78 lashes, and thieves 39. A few examples are quoted. In 1776 it was ruled that no soldier should receive more than 100 lashes.

The 33rd Entry Window
A stained glass window in an English church commemorates a Royal Air Force Entry (1936-38) which is said to be the last one to have witnessed the "drumming out and public flogging ceremony". This is very intriguing, as the RAF has always claimed never to have had any corporal punishment.

Brats of the Thirty-Third
Corroborates the above claim about a public flogging on the barrack square. The "Brats" in question were RAF Aircraft Apprentices, aged 15 to 17, at RAF Halton, Aylesbury.

Heralds in New Deal America: Camp Newspapers of the Civilian Conservation Corps [PDF]
Mentions that some of these 1930s work camps (not strictly speaking part of the Army) had "kangaroo courts" which carried out paddlings of those who "bucked the line".

Offenders, how Punished in the American Army
Quote from a 1883 book describing methods of punishment in the American Army during the Revolution. "Cobbing", for petty offences, involved the use of what sounds much like a paddle "and was inflicted upon the bare breech".

Flogging of boy over a barrelPenkop - Prisoners of War
During the Boer War around 1900, Afrikaner boy soldiers captured by the British were shipped to camps outrageous distances away from South Africa, including to Bermuda. There they were punished, often corporally, for such "crimes" as singing their own national anthem and refusing to speak English (a language most of them didn't know). This document reproduces a page of a punishment register, showing boys of 13 to 15 being given 15 to 20 lashes.
 There is also a modern artist's impression of a boy being flogged while held over a barrel. The stripes are shown landing on his upper back and buttocks indiscriminately. This would be a rather unBritish way of doing things. I suspect this may be a misunderstanding deriving from the phrase "... prescribed number of lashes across the boy's bare back ...", in fact typically in that era a euphemism for bare buttocks. This may be borne out by the choice of a barrel -- if you hold someone over a barrel, rather than on a flat bench, it suggests to me that the target area is rather specifically intended to be the posterior.

Treatment of Prisoners in Castle Thunder, Richmond, Va.
Evidence before a committee of the House of Representatives of the Confederate States, 1863. Numerous references to whippings, some of which were applied to the buttocks.

Military Law, the Canadian Militia, and the North-West Rebellion of 1885
Canada inherited military flogging from Britain, but does not seem to have used it much.

Crimes and Punishments in the Continental Army of 1777 and 1778
Extracts from the "orderly book" of a soldier in Washington's Army. Includes cases where deserters were given 50 lashes.


Escuela Caribe student manual New!
A student handbook from 1999 for this boarding school (located offshore in the Dominican Republic) that catered for American "troubled teens". It was an offshoot of the New Horizons group based in Indiana. See "Student Discipline" on page 37. Demerits were called "Units of concern". For running away and for sexual misbehavior, inmates were given 12 of these units. "A unit of concern consists of one day of appropriate restriction or one swat on the seat of the pants with a specified paddle." In some cases "The choice of discipline may be the student's."

For orphans, safe haven brings new rules
Report (Jan 2010) from a post-earthquake orphanage in Haiti where misbehaving kids get "a swat on the bottom" with a belt or switch.

Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys Abuse Investigation [PDF]
Report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on its investigation into allegations of long-ago abuse at this reformatory in Marianna. There is a lot of detail about "spankings" with a strap. See also this March 2010 news report.

The Court Lees Affair
Children Webmag reproduces a detailed account, written in 1968 but only now published, of the 1967 fuss over canings at Britain's Court Lees Approved School (see this article, and these news reports and their follows-up). It places the affair in the wider context of official approaches to juvenile delinquency, which had already started changing before the story broke. The crisis added to an already unstable situation, says the author; the truth as to some of the various assertions made in the dispute "may never be known".

Proud to be an orphan
Veteran Fleet Street hack Peter Paterson describes "copious use of the cane" at Spurgeon's Orphanage, London, in the 1940s.

Cane from children's homeA punishment cane from 1973
Picture of part of a 30-inch cane used in Birmingham (UK) children's homes. This is described as the "junior or light" cane, for use on offenders up to age 11. It has "Birmingham Education 1973" embossed on it, as shown in this close-up on a separate page.

Biography of Hermenegild Joseph Fernandez
In 1963 this Frenchman set up a Boys' Town in Sri Lanka for youths aged 16 to 20. Corporal punishment was "freely resorted to, with the number of strokes matching the gravity of the offence". CP has now been abolished.

Strafen und Belobigungen
German-language website about the Jugendwerkhof Torgau, a reformatory in communist East Germany from 1964 to 1989. It says that corporal punishment was officially forbidden, but there were canes in the teachers' room, which were supposed to be used only for self-defence. Inmates might, in practice, also get hit around the head with a bunch of keys. This tends to support the suspicion that corporal punishment was not always as completely absent from communist regimes as the Party invariably claimed.

Industrial school for boys
An inspector's report for 1906 notes that there were "28 cases of corporal punishment for ordinary schoolboy offences" at a reformatory in Suffolk, England.

Well-fed priests left brutalised school boys cold and hungry
May 2006 article in the Irish Independent reveals that "industrial schools" in Ireland continued to use corporal punishment until 1993, 11 years after it had been legally banned.

Thuy's Blog: Goodbye
A temporary volunteer at an orphanage in Vietnam reports (2005) that CP was routine.

State's boarding schools nearly free of regulation
Article (1997) from the Pensacola News-Journal, Florida, states that the Charity Haven Home for Girls, which used a lot of CP, lost its certification as a child-care agency but within a month was back in business as a "boarding school", the Charity Haven Christian Academy.

State Records of South Australia: Redruth Revisited
At this girls' reformatory, where the inmates rioted in the 1920s, the Matron made "liberal use of the slipper", though CP for girls was supposed to be forbidden.

'There's no such thing as a bad boy': Fr Flanagan's visit to Ireland, 1946  (Alternative link)
Article (spring 2004) in History Ireland. The founder of Boys' Town in the USA (immortalised by Spencer Tracy in the 1938 movie of that name) visited his native land in 1946 and became highly critical of the Irish penal and reformatory systems, which he saw as wholly negative and unchristian. This sparked an article on Irish prison conditions in Hearst's American Weekly which included a sketch of a teenager being flogged with a cat-o'-nine-tails. I presume this is the same article as that referred to in Borstal in Ireland (Osborough, 1974), which suggests that the drawing may have been a politically motivated fabrication. The History Ireland article implies that Father Flanagan believed it, but he appears to have been confused between "industrial schools" (reformatories), run by priests, where there would certainly have been brutal floggings (see next item), and the nation's only Borstal, part of the official prison system, which, at least on paper, never used CP.

'A Good Beating Never Hurt Anyone': The Punishment and Abuse of Children in Twentieth Century Ireland
Abstract of an article in Journal of Social History about Irish reformatories run by religious orders.

The Megeath House Gang 1930-1945 [PDF]
Part of a website about the Omaha Home for Boys. The Matron "could swing the paddle as hard as anyone".

Mr. Donald L. Sizemore, Sr  (Alternative link)
Interview with a staff member of the former Oxford Orphanage (now Masonic Home for Children) in North Carolina. He says that 30 years ago corporal punishment was standard, and that it was quick, effective and just: "The children responded more to corporal punishment, because one incident of corporal punishment took care of them for a couple of years". However, CP has today been "almost completely" abolished because of the bureaucratic procedures nowadays required.

Violence in Teenage Penal Institutions
Debate in the UK House of Lords (the upper house of Parliament) in January 1996. Scroll down to column 199: Viscount Mountgarret advocates flogging for bullies.

Can we claim against the state?
On a message board, former inmates of UK "approved schools" (i.e. reformatories) wonder whether they can get compensation for their canings there. The correct answer, since caning was explicitly provided for by the official rules, is "No, of course not".

Re: st william's approved school, market weighton
Re: birch vs cane
Re: birch vs cane
Re: birch vs cane
More entries on the same board. Some of these people may be impostors. At all events I take some of these messages with a pinch of salt, especially claims to have been birched (as opposed to caned) in modern times.

Trial of Faith: Remember My Bonds
Support site for Joshua and Caleb Thompson, sentenced to 26 and 14 years respectively for child abuse after they flogged a boy at their Texas church -- see these July 2002 news items and this Dec 2003 follow-up. Whatever one thinks of these people or their methods, those do seem quite extraordinarily excessive sentences, although I don't buy the site's claim that it has anything to do with a "vindictive attitude towards Christianity". I think it's just that in the modern era it's fashionable to have a ludicrously disproportionate response to anything that might be described as "abuse". The site includes various video clips.

Engendering Identity: Female Impersonation in Farewell My Concubine
A summary of the film set in the Peking Opera School. Mentions that "lashing the boys' bare buttocks is a traditional method of training".

Q & A with Elaine Teo
A Malaysian athlete undergoing training in Korea reports that a lot of caning is used.

Intermediate Reformatory, Algoa Farms, Missouri
A 1937 report notes the persistence of corporal punishment at this institution, and in particular criticises "the emotional effect of spanking a young man between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five".

Norman Deakins
Interview with a former teacher at the West Virginia Industrial School for Boys in the 1960s and 1970s. In a nice illustration of the ease with which, in English, new verbs can be created out of nouns, he describes paddling an inmate as "boarding his butt".

Manufacturing Assimilation: Photographs of Indian Schools in Arizona  (Alternative link)
Mentions allegations of excessive corporal punishment and gives an account of a mass flogging in 1928.

Never heard of abuse until now
Writing (June 2003) in the Rapid City Journal of South Dakota, a former chief judge of the Oglala Sioux Tribe comes to the defence of the Catholic Indian boarding school he attended in the 1940s and 1950s where "abuse" has been alleged. He agrees that there was corporal punishment in the form of spankings, but points out that that was accepted as normal at the time.

Senate Inquiry: Institutionalised Children in Care  (Alternative link) [DOC]
Quotes from a variety of sources about reformatories in Ireland, Canada, the UK and Australia, particularly those run by Irish priests. Much of it seems to be about sexual abuse but there are numerous mentions of CP also -- though some of what is called CP here is clearly not proper CP at all but just casual brutality.

Sisters of no mercy
Article (2003) about a nasty institution run by cruel RC nuns in Scotland.

3 former residents of Bergen orphanage claim abuse  (Alternative link)
More brutal nuns, this time in New Jersey in the 1960s. Painful bare-bottom spankings are recalled. June 2003 article from the Bergen Record.

I cried for a little boy who once lived there
A heartbreakingly sad online autobiographical book by a former orphan boy in the USA. For CP references see chapters 1, 9, 10, 11, 17, 21 and 22. See also this page for a 1945 article about the Eldora training school in Iowa, attended by the author, and compare it with the Osborne Association's c.1940 report on the same institution.

Nobody's Children: State-approved Institutions
Part of Human Rights Watch's 1999 investigation into Jamaica. Corporal punishment was permitted at the "Homestead Place of Safety". One boy reported being strapped on the hands, which he agreed he deserved. At the St Andrew Remand Center, CP had recently been abolished, but some of the staff were not happy about this.

Industrial Schools: Statements
Long debate (May 1999) in the Irish Dáil (Lower House of Parliament) about past abuse in reformatories. This has been a big issue in Ireland, particularly after a major television investigation found widespread evidence of brutality. Relatively little of this is about corporal punishment proper, but it gets mentioned.

Corporal Punishment in Finglas (Dublin) School
A written answer in the Irish Parliament in 1977. Strokes at this institution were given with "a light leather strap".

From Punishment to Reformation (1870-1906) [PDF]
Part of a 1927 report to Congress on the history of reform schools in Washington DC. Refers to official whippings with a rubber hose at the National Training School.

Native school teachers' log books [PDF]
Appendix to a report about the treatment of Maoris in New Zealand. This document is some 90 pages long. It consists entirely of extracts from punishment books and other log books in the early 20th century. Many hundreds of canings and strappings are recorded.

Retorts, runaways and riots: patterns of resistance in Canadian reform schools for girls, 1930-1960
Substantial article in Journal of Social History (Spring 2001). Strapping was used well into the 1940s.

Lost Innocents: Righting the Record [PDF]
Australian Senate report on child migration from the UK, with particular reference to the so-called Christian Brothers. This was a worldwide gang of Irish thugs who ran various horrendous institutions in an unforgivably callous and brutal manner. Most of what is described bears little or no relation to what I would call proper corporal punishment.

Physical Abuse, Hegemony and Resistance in British Residential Care
Abstract of an article giving background on reformatories, approved schools, children's homes, industrial schools, Borstals and orphanages. These, the author suggests, were not as different from each other as they were supposed to be. An underlying culture of violence characterised all residential institutions, he says. Numerous cases of caning and flogging are quoted. The full text of the article was previously online, but now you have to pay to access it.

Briscoe Memorial School: 'It was a truly brutal place'
Seattle Times article (2004) finds opposing views about a Roman Catholic boarding school in the 1940s to 1960s. It's those "Christian Brothers" with their leather straps again.

"Remember the Christian Alamo"
Long piece (2001) from Austin's Texas Monthly about the religious youth institutions run by the late Lester Roloff and his successors, notably the Rebekah Home for Girls, where paddling was frequent.

Probe of Abuse Charges at "Bible Discipline" Home Leads to Bush, Raises Questions of Faith-State Partnership
An atheist website gives some more background (2000) on the bizarre story of Lester Roloff (see previous item), who defended his use of CP with the wonderful slogan "Better a pink bottom than a black soul".

Key Issues and Challenges
Document about Indian residential schools in Canada in the late 1800s and early 1900s, regarded by the writer as a clear case of cultural genocide. Includes some first-person recollections of strappings.

Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Bill, 1998
Debate (2000) in the Irish Senate over whether the scope of the Bill should be extended to include physical ill-treatment of children in institutions as well as sexual abuse. The Minister argues against this on the grounds that it would then have to cover corporal punishment even though this was perfectly normal and legal at the time.

A website on the history of the Borstal institution, a kind of senior reformatory or youth prison. There were several dozen of these in the UK from 1895 until they were abolished in 1982. Birching was once available as a rare "last resort" for extreme cases of internal indiscipline, on the same basis as for adult prisons. There are also several references here to unofficial corporal punishments with cane, belt and slipper. I'm dubious about the authenticity of some of these anecdotal accounts. However, the site tends to lump Borstals together with approved schools (theoretically a quite different sort of institution), which did officially use caning, and in many cases plenty of it.

Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions (Australia) [PDF]
Report of the "Forde Inquiry". Chapters 5 and 7 contain several descriptions of canings and floggings of boys up to as relatively recently as the 1970s.

Juvenile Injustice: Police abuse and detention of street children in Kenya
Huge 1997 study by Human Rights Watch mentions canings of boys and girls in approved schools and formal public floggings of youths in Borstal institutions (max. 10 strokes of a light cane on the buttocks) in Kenya. These are official punishments for internal discipline. There were also unofficial canings by the police. Most of the detail is in Part VI, "Conditions in institutions to which children are committed".

Juvenile Wards of Prisons
Another Human Rights Watch report, this time about Pakistan in 1999. Whipping was an authorised punishment for offences against prison discipline. However, the investigators failed to find any cases of its use on juveniles in actual practice.

A Mixture of Caring and Corruption: Church Orphanages and Industrial Schools
The feminist-driven rewriting of history continues apace. This article deliberately conflates activities that used to be accepted as perfectly normal in many youth institutions (bare-bottom floggings, communal undressing for showers, etc.) with "sexual abuse", as seen from the vantage point of the currently fashionable puritan hysteria.

Forced Labour, Workhouse-prisons and the Early Modern State: A Case Study
Institutions and work schemes for beggars, vagrants and idlers began in England in the 16th century and were copied across continental Europe. Mentions corporal punishments in passing.


Suit against evangelist Alamo can continue
2009 news item about a Christian evangelist preacher who administered spankings as supposedly required by the Bible.

WOFF man cleared on charges
Article (2003) from the Daily Courier of Forest City, NC. Description of the paddling of a teen boy at the World Of Faith Fellowship.

Jack Hyles: Testimonies From Former Hyles Followers
Another nutjob religious cult. This one, in Indiana, was run by a man who would allegedly describe in detail to a huge congregation how he spanked his daughter. One woman (scroll down to "6/2004") relates how she was paddled at its school at the age of nine, though paddlings were normally supposed to be only for boys.

My Experience With Remnant Fellowship
A mother states that spanking is widely practised at a Tennessee Christian outfit: "I was instructed to spank my daughter on her bare bottom until it was beet red".

'Summer camp in eastern Arizona' - Tucson Boys ChorusTucson Arizona Boys Chorus
See page 17 for this 1953 illustrated article about a boys' choir whose members not only put on impressive singing displays but were also accomplished rodeo cowboys. Misbehaviour was dealt with by "a good walloping" with "a stout oak paddle".

Boy Scout leader arrested
Article (2000) from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about a scout troop whose camps involved getting the boys to strip naked and spank and paddle each other. Even the police were forced to admit that the scout leader did not commit any sexual assault and that the boys were not hurt. So, having admitted that, did they drop the charges? Why, no! In the current culture of puritanical hysteria and witch-hunting, a fuss has to be manufactured about so-called "abuse" -- the fuss no doubt being, as usual with this sort of thing, far more traumatising for the kids than the events themselves -- and a harmless old geezer must be viciously harried and hounded through the courts and his life wrecked.

Scouts meet where Maj. Martin recruited men
News item from 1917 about a Texas scout troop that held kangaroo courts at which offenders were spanked.

The Baker Paddle
Boy Scout Troop 17 in St Louis, MO, possessed a fraternity-type paddle in the 1950s, not for punishments but for "trading blows" for fun (scroll a little way down the page to find this).

Where did it come from? Synanon Church and the medical basis for the $traights, or Hoopla in Lake Havasu
This loony cult seems to have begun in California as a drug rehabilitation programme, with paddling and spanking.

The Twelve Tribes: The Commonwealth of Israel
Do you spank your children? Yes, we do, says this sect, which has communities in several different parts of the world. A "small reed-like rod" is used.

Twelve Tribes-EX: Child Discipline
More about the Twelve Tribes cult (see previous item) and its stern discipline, including physical punishment with a wooden paddle but apparently also real child-hating abuse. These people are completely insane, if this site by former victims of the cult is to be believed.

Commune's iron grip tests faith of converts
Article from Chicago Tribune (2001) about the Jesus People, another US religious cult. In the 1970s, its members were spanked with a long wooden dowel known as "the rod".

Brainwashing and Re-Indoctrination Programs in the Children of God [PDF]
Testimony on the punishment of teenagers by an outfit called the Children of God, aka "The Family". One particular pants-down paddling of a 13-year-old boy in the 1980s, in front of dozens of other members, is described both by its recipient and by some of the witnesses (see "The Victor Program at the 'Jumbo' in the Philippines and Elsewhere").


Corporal punishment in Parkhurst Prison.
UK House of Commons in May 1898: a Member asks why proportionally more prisoners were flogged at Parkhurst than at other jails. The Minister replies that there had been four cases of gross insubordination.

Becoming a Cell Boss in a Thai Prison
Prisoners found with contraband received blows to the backside with a wooden truncheon, according to this (2007).

Posed reconstruction of prison spankingIllustrations of the Tortures that Hubei Dafa Practitioner Liao Yuanhua Received in Fanjiatai Prison
Unpleasant stuff about ill-treatment of Falun Gong adherents in a Chinese prison. One picture, near the bottom of the page (NB it is a reconstruction, not "the real thing") shows a prisoner being spanked on the bare buttocks with a shoe.

All About Sing Sing Prison: Discipline and Control
Page from a history of this notorious New York prison. Floggings were common in the 19th century. Brief description of a brutal flogging; and on the site's photo gallery page is an engraving with a caption that says "the prisoner was tied down and beaten with the short whip for infractions. There was no set duration, and salted water was rubbed in wounds with a towel."

Corrections Museum
This is at the New York State Department of Correctional Services Training Academy, Albany. The museum, open only on special occasions, contains an "Elmira punishment paddle".

Dáil Éireann -- Vote No. 33 -- Prisons
Debate in the Irish Parliament in June 1929. About five paragraphs down, a member asks whether flogging has been abolished in the prisons. The Minister replies that it is on the statute book, but has never been used (presumably meaning not since independence in 1921; it was certainly used before that, under British rule).

Texas Prison Museum
At this prison museum in Huntsville, Texas, an instrument called "the bat" is on display. The page neither describes it nor illustrates it, but says that it was used to inflict whippings on the inmates.

Colonial drama
flogging re-enactedAustralian "colonial day" includes re-enactment of the flogging of a convict, pictured.

Governor Alva Adams of Colorado
During his first term (1887 to 1889), corporal punishment in Colorado state prisons was abolished, it says here. However, it must have been reintroduced pretty quickly -- see these c.1900 pictures of a prison strapping.

Roy Best
And still on the subject of Colorado prisons, this is a page about the idiosyncratic and controversial warden of Canon City penitentiary from 1932 to 1952. Throughout that time he was wont to apply lashes with a "wet leather strap", still using the "Old Gray Mare" seen in the photos of 50 years earlier, mentioned in the previous item. See also this July 1951 news item, which includes a picture of Warden Best demonstrating his flogging technique.

Prison And Gaol Records
The State Records Office of Western Australia (Perth) informs us that it holds corporal punishment registers for Fremantle Prison from 1878 to 1964, and a record of birchings from 1888 to 1962.

Punishment Before Trial: Prison Conditions in Venezuela
This 1997 document from Human Rights Watch reports (see page 61) that its observers saw "scores of prisoners with bruised and bleeding buttocks" following punishment with sabers.

Annual Report of the Board of Public Charities of North Carolina, 1910
See page 32, which described the leather strap used at Elkin Camp; page 33, which noted that five prisoners had been whipped with a leather strap in the past thirty days at Chaffin's Camp; page 113, which says that one "unruly boy" had been whipped at Henderson; page 114, which mentions that prisoners were "whipped for disobedience" at New Hanover; and page 118, referring to "punishment with the leather strap" at Union.

Jack McVitie
From an illiterate and arguably morally dubious website about the ghastly Kray Twins and their various murderous associates and fellow-psychopaths, this page is about Jack "The Hat", a drug-dealer and thug in 1950s and 1960s London. According to this not necessarily reliable source, he and two cronies were birched in prison in 1959 for assaulting a prison officer.

Mad Frankie Fraser
Another London gangster of the same era, here quoted (I don't know how accurately; no source is cited) as saying that he had received both the cat and the birch in his 42 years in prison. At all events his alleged recollections of these punishments are rather inaccurate. For instance, he says the cat was "7 lumps of leather" -- actually it was made of cord and there were nine cords, that's why it's called the cat of nine tails, d'oh ... and that for the birching he was put over a barrel -- in fact they used an A-frame with a bar at waist height.

A Chronology of CSD's Development and Penal Measures of Hong Kong
You'd guess, would you not, that caning was probably abolished around the 1970s in Hong Kong penal institutions. But no, caning of Training Centre inmates for offences against discipline was introduced in 1974, according to this official web page.

Victorian London: Labour and the Poor
Describes a prison whipping as recounted by its recipient in 1850.

Victorian London: Wormwood Scrubs Prison
A 1902 reports states that there were only half a dozen birchings a year at this London prison.

Starvation on Norfolk Island
Description and artist's impression of flogging with the cat on this convict settlement in the Pacific around 1800.

US State Department Reports on Human Rights Practices: Cameroon - 2001
Under section 3c, there is a brief description of beatings given in the detention centres of this African country. It's not quite clear whether this is a legally sanctioned penalty or just unofficial abuse.

Convict punishment - Flogging
This Australian history page includes some information about 19th-century prison flogging.

Flogging 1833
Correspondence about flogging with the cat in convict settlements in Australia.

Nobody's Children: Police Lockups
Part of a report by Human Rights Watch about Jamaica. Unofficial beatings in police lockups are reported. One officer refers to giving a kid "twenty strops on his buttocks".

A Missouri Hell: Prison Discipline
From a book published in 1890, describing barbarous floggings with a cat in the Missouri penitentiary. Paddles and straps were also sometimes used.

book cover1930: Two convicts who made a break
From a series of historical articles in the New Jersey Trentonian, the story of the Georgia prisoner who wrote "I Am a Fugitive from the Georgia Chain Gang!" Whippings on the buttocks are described, confirming that the similarly named film based on the book got it wrong in showing the strap falling on the upper back.

Legal Problems Encountered by American Citizens in Korea
Under "Life in a Correctional Facility", this US government page states that prisoners in South Korea may be "corporally punished" for talking back to guards or refusing to cooperate. I slightly doubt whether this means the sort of formal action (caning, spanking, strapping, paddling or flogging) that we would normally understand by that phrase -- I have a feeling we would have heard about it before now if so. But I might be wrong.

Instruments of Punishment
Includes a picture of whipping posts on board the convict ship Success.

Bouvier's Law Dictionary 1856
Entry for "penitentiary" contrasts the Pennsylvania system, where all forms of corporal punishment were prohibited, with the New York system, which had whipping, although it claims this was not much used.

Seth Gordon Persons
A Governor of Alabama who publicly burned the straps used for prison floggings.

Human Rights Practices for 1998: St Vincent and the Grenadines
The US State Department reported in its 1996 edition that a prisoner in St Vincent had been flogged with a cat-o'-nine-tails. The High Court held that the prison superintendent had no right to order corporal punishment. The 1998 report reveals that the Government has withdrawn its appeal against the ruling.

Human Rights Practices for 1999: St Vincent and the Grenadines
Further to the previous item, the following year's report says that the High Court awarded $85,000 compensation to the illegally flogged prisoner.


Old book title page Lands of the slave and the free: or, Cuba, the United States, and Canada
Page from a book published in 1857, describing a paddle used to punish slaves: it was of white oak, an inch thick, with a blade about 9 inches long and 4 inches wide, and a handle two feet long. This was said to have been introduced because it marked the body less, and for less time, than a whip. The author proposed that a standard instrument be laid down by law, and that slaves should have their punishments administered in a jail or some authorized place, rather than by the slave owner, who may be tempted to act angrily on the spur of the moment. These suggestions were overtaken by events when slavery was abolished in the USA and Cuba just a few years later, as it already had been in the British Empire.

Weird Workplaces
"News of the Weird" item (2002) about Connecticut music store owner Jeff Caillouette, who spanked his 15-year-old employee as punishment for workplace mistakes.

Shoemaker and Assistants, Brazil, 1830s
Contemporary illustration of an apprentice being punished -- on the hand, strangely -- with a "palmatoria, a wooden paddle with holes in it".

section of flogging pictureMasters and Workers: Labour relations in ancient Egypt
Corporal punishment of workers was "commonplace", according to this article, which reproduces a contemporary picture of a flogging taken from a tomb.

George Gabriel Powell, the first Speaker of South Carolina
This eighteenth-century character had previously been Governor of St Helena, where he once ordered a wigmaker to be flogged on the bare buttocks for making a duff wig, according to this. "Powell sat in the room and looked on."


A Brief History of Fraternity/Sorority Paddles
See Section B, "History of Paddling and Greek Hazing", which suggests that paddling as an initiation ritual in US institutions dates from the late 19th century.

Boyband spanking, animated gifThese 9 Idols Just Can't Stop Spanking Their Members
Several examples of jocular butt slaps in pop music videos by South Korean boybands and girlbands ("K-Pop"). This suggests that the concept of posterial punishment remains strong in the modern Korean psyche. Cf. the huge number of Korean movies, both comedy and straight drama, that include scenes of school students getting whacked across the seat.

Neither Spared nor Spoiled: The Mardi Gras Chase in Choupic, Louisiana
A Cajun tradition. Every year a ritual chase culminates in floggings with switches of the younger kids by the older boys.

Behind the Masks
Further to the previous item, here is another Mardi Gras tradition in a different part of Louisiana. People with masks carried whips and switches and used them until the 1970s, when the police began to confiscate them.

A Study of Tradition and Change in the Gheens Mardi Gras
More about this Louisiana whipping tradition.

Restaurant menuOakland Creperie Offers a Spanking Special
At this restaurant in California you can order a spanking along with one of its dessert crepes. At $20 on top of the price of the crepe, it seems a rather expensive way of seeking atonement for your sins.

RollergirlsRoller Derby Revivin'
CBS News article (2006) on a revival of the sport of roller derby, in which women who break the rules have to roll down a "Spank Alley" made up of "paddle-wielding fans".

Beer labelScotch Irish Corporal Punishment from Heritage Brewing Limited
Yes, this is the name of a brand of beer in Canada.

Strippers Busted In Birthday Bash
From The Smoking Gun, the lowdown on the absurd court case about a truck driver who was given a birthday paddling on stage at a nightclub in Arkansas, including pictures of the four dancers who did the whacking. Afterwards he "suffered discomfort when sitting". On this page is an image of the Sheriff's report. See also this July 2005 news item and this Nov 2005 follow-up.

Autobiographical Musings of a Mepham Wrestler
Recollections from 1949 include this intriguing statement: "No accounting of wrestling experiences could be complete without mention of the paddle".

Pain and Suffering: The Dark Side of Collecting
An essay about the bonding effect of sharing intense pain in college fraternity hazing. Hard to relate to, for those of us who have not been part of that strange subculture.

3 cleared in hazing
New York Daily News item (2004) about charges arising from a fraternity paddling.

5 minors spared from hazing paddle
A news item (2003) from the Philippines, where US-style initiation paddling is apparently a thing.

Enterprise Printing Strategies at MIT - Status reports
Scroll down to 02/10/1999 on this Massachusetts Institute of Technology page for this intriguing message: "Tim McGovern joined the team but refused the team's paddling initiation ceremony".

Hazing issue a challenge to area coach
News item (2003) from the Amarillo Globe about initiation paddlings in a high-school football team.

Birthday spankings
A blogger describes the emotions stirred up by getting spanked for the first time in 15 years.

Campus is Backdrop for Photo Shoot
"To the delight of a gathering crowd, male models in boxer briefs paddled each other" at UC Berkeley, according to this 2001 item.

Great Beginnings of Modern Commerce
Near the bottom of this page, from a 1907 book about the mediaeval Hanseatic League, is a reference to an initiation ceremony in which Hansa probationers had to go out into the woods and gather the branches with which later they were to be birched.

History of WVU
At West Virginia University, hazing was abolished in the 1920s but student "vigilance committees" still used paddling to enforce rules for first-year students. It seems this was "official punishment" and thus not defined as hazing.

To tell the truth ... [PDF]
Tales of freshmen getting their behinds swatted by paddle-wielding upperclassmen at Clemson University in South Carolina in the 1930s. See page 8.

Emporia State University Spotlight [PDF]
See caption to the photo on page 1. Freshman boys at this Kansas college would be paddled if they refused to wear a hat called a beanie.

David R. Francis Quadrangle
Beanies (see previous item) also feature in this page from the University of Missouri in Columbia. Scroll down to "Paddle lines". Until the end of World War 2, any student in a beanie (i.e. a freshman) caught on the quadrangle got a spanking from a paddle line of seniors.

Cut the Caps
Same sort of thing at the University of Kansas, where paddling was outlawed but gradually came back into use. The page includes an old photograph of a paddle line in action.

Alpha Pi Alpha Fraternity: The 1950s
More vintage fraternity paddling pictures here and here. These are from the State University at Albany, New York.

cartoon of paddlingMy Most Important Lesson
Paddle swats were commonplace at the University of Toronto in the 1950s.

Thengedzo - Punishments
Anthropology notes about the Venda in South Africa in the 1950s. This page is about a girls' initiation school. 'Beatings' are mentioned, but no details supplied.

Social Tales
Scroll down to "Drinking". At the University of Virginia in the 1920s, being too drunk in public could get you a paddling.

Hazing's legal, but it hurts
Article in the Detroit Free Press (February 2004) about high-school hazing in Michigan, including paddlings.

Alpha Pi Class Initiation, April 1998
Assorted Photos from 2000-2001
Assorted Photos from 1998-1999
Alpha Rho Class Initiation, May 1998
Dozens of pictures of fraternity paddlings under way at the University of Washington in Seattle. This shows that young men can take a paddling as part of an initiation process and bond with other chaps in fraternities without abuse. Maybe many young men still have a need to be spanked. They certainly all look to be thriving on it.

Afghanistan Memorial
A poignant tribute to two US Navy SEALs lost in Afghanistan. The second piece describes an initiation paddling, which the boy "took like a champ", and this is how his grieving buddies would like to remember him.

TV hack holds frat paddleStudent files hazing complaint against fraternity
2002 news item about university frat paddling in Houston, Texas. Illustrated with a picture of a paddle.

Beta Sigma fraternity history
About a fraternity at the University of the Philippines, where new initiates were paddled for two solid days. Go to "Edit" in your browser and "select all" if you cannot see the text.

Topography of Sparta
Scroll down to "Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia" for information about the ritual whipping of boys in the 3rd century BC.

Walking Town Boundaries Is An Ancient Custom
The Canton (Mass.) Historical Society tells us about this custom brought to Massachusetts by settlers from England. The town boundaries were renewed annually, and at certain points village boys were either "bumped" against a tree or flogged, to impress the locality on their memories.

Leaving the Greek Community? [PDF]
On page 2 of this newsletter, a student at Washington State University peeks through the open window of a fraternity house and sees hazing paddling in progress.

KSPC Family Photo AlbumJessica spanks Dan
Scroll down to "Old KSPC Staff Photos" and click on the thumbnail captioned "Jessica administers some corporal punishment unto Dan Finley" for a picture of a young disc jockey getting a spanking at this California radio station.

Chris Onzuka gets his Brown Belt
"Hawaii Martial Arts News" (2000) reports that a member received a ceremonial bare-back whipping on being awarded his brown belt.

Social Clubs
Student life at Brigham Young University, Utah, in the 1950s. Fraternities had strict rules, with paddling as punishment.

The Last Pond Party
Description of a paddle line at the University of Massachusetts in the 1920s.

Access to Speed Workshop, June 2000
A skater celebrates his birthday by crawling through a spanking tunnel.

Naked Intruder Subdued With Cane
2002 "weird news" story from Chicago.

Freak Retreat: Burning man fest of self-expression loses its radical edge
Burning Man is "an annual festival of art, radical self-expression and anti-consumerism" in Nevada. All newcomers get spanked by the greeters at the gate, according to this 2001 story in a Canadian magazine.

Would-Be Shriner Says He Was Subjected to Painful Initiation Rites
1991 news story, reproduced on an anti-freemasonry website. New applicants for this fraternity had to sit on an electrified bench and receive electric shocks through their bare buttocks.

Reach for the top and a birching
Travel piece about Slovenia. By tradition those who successfully climb its highest mountain, Mt. Triglav, are rewarded with an over-the-knee thrashing.

Climbing the Triglav
Another article mentioning the above custom.

Sint Nicolaas
Every 5 December the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus arrives to reward kids who have been good during the year. He also spanks or switches those who have not.

Prince Hall Masons in the News
1999 article about accusations of hazing at Masonic lodges in Texas.

College athletics more than just games
Article (1996) from the University of Arizona's newspaper. Swim team members get paddled on their birthdays by teammates using kickboards.

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