25 JANUARY 1935, Page 20


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—I do not read the British Medical Journal, and have not therefore seen the correspondence referred to regarding the caning of girls in elementary schools, but as one of the assistant masters who, it is implied, improperly use their powers to the detriment of health, I should like to take this opportunity of replying.

In the elementary school of whose staff I am a member, it has always been the custom to administer this form of correction, and I have never heard of any ill results accruing. It would, of course, be invidious to make too much distinction on account of age, but naturally the master would not use excessive force on a girl of comparatively tender years. The position you will realize is not quite the same as with boys. The girl is generally protected in a much greater measure than the boy by her clothing. The caning is generally

regarded as an effective deterrent, not so much on account of the pain inflicted as its indignity, particularly if publicly administered. We only inflict it for certain offences which need* eradicating—such as lying, cheating and stealing, and the more serious offences.

Girls in schools are notoriously more difficult to correct than boys, as they do not appear to mind such penalties as being made to come in on a Saturday, or kept in late, or being made to write lines, &c., and so far from advocating t he abolition of corporal punishment it is my opinion that were it more widely used beneficial results would ensue. 1 know of one secondary boarding school where girls up to the age of 18 were caned for certain specified offences, and the general opinion was that as a deterrent and corrective the method was extremely effective, as few girls cared to risk such a punishment—though amongst those few were heard no complaints of any resultant damage to health. As a consequence, therefore, the particularly serious nature of the offences for which it was reserved was brOught home to the girls in the most salutary manner.—I am, Sir, &c.,