View Full Version : Corporal Punishment

09-17-2008, 08:25 PM
I know this is probably a dumb question, but does anyone know if authority figures used switched on the back or palms of hands?

09-17-2008, 09:00 PM
It would depend on the act being punished, the person being punished, the one doing the punishing, and when and where, too. In the US, switches are out of fashion, along with corporal punishment in general, although it still happens in the home. However, that's fairly recent, in the last 40 or 50 years. Before that, a cane or switch might be used on the back, hand, legs and calves, or buttocks.

A girl, being tender and fragile, is more likely to have her hand punished, especially if her wrongdoing involves the hand, such as touching or taking something which was not hers to touch or take, or her legs, because baring the leg would be fairly shocking in most places and times (until shorter dresses were worn in the 20th Century), yet not be striking an overtly sexual part of the body.

Boys are expected to be able to take more pain, especially repeat offenders, and while they might be hit anywhere, were more likely to be struck on the back or buttocks. The "rule of thumb" disallowed switches larger than the thumb, as they could cause real damage.

Maryn, semi-knowledgeable

09-18-2008, 12:03 AM
When I was at junior school (ages 6 - 11), back in the 1960s when corporal punishment was still allowed, teachers would hit pupils on the palm of the hand with a cane or a ruler. When a friend of mine was caned in this way, the head teacher always asked if the pupil was right or left handed first, and would hit the non-writing hand so the pupil could return to class afterwards. My friend always lied, and was then unable to do any writing for the rest of the day.
They would also give "six of the best", which was a gym shoe/plimsoll applied to the bottom. This was almost always a boy's punishment. Some schools did this with a cane.
I'm pretty sure that independant schools were allowed to carry on using this punishment when corporal punishment in State schools was stopped.

09-18-2008, 12:24 AM
Thanks. I was thinking late 1700s-mid 1800s.

09-18-2008, 01:20 AM
In what part of the world, though? What's typical and what's extreme is not just linked to time but also to place.


09-18-2008, 01:34 AM
Northern U.S. (MA, to be exact), late 1700s-mid 1800s.

09-19-2008, 01:53 AM
Wooden Ruler on back of hands back in the 20's (my mom) and still the same in the 60's where I went to school. Another thing they did back then was have the offending student sit on the teachers desk, facing the other students, wearing a dunce's cap.

They still have corporal punishment in the schools in my area. No rulers or sticks on the hands, but they do paddle unless parents specify they may not do so.