the strap!

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I was searching my back storeroom at work recently I came across one of the original straps used by Principals and some teachers who were delegated to “dish out” corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment (that is legally striking a student with wooden cane or leather strap for misbehaviour) was banned in 1985 in Victorian public schools. It took until 2006 (that’s 21 years later) before it was banned in all schools (includes religious and independent schools).

I remember as a young teacher in the late 70’s and early 80’s being issued with a strap by the head mistress and being told to strap all the 5-8 years children sent to me. I know this might sound like the dark ages but it did happen.

I recall one day before recess while I was teaching English to my class when a young boy was sent to me by a female teacher for answering back. The punishment was 2 hits across the hands with the strap. At first I was a little shocked that someone had actually sent someone to me – so I dismissed my class early for recess and told the boy that this thing would hurt – but I still couldn’t get myself to hit him. So I thumped the strap loudly on the wooden desk for effect – which it had for the poor little tyke started screaming and wet his pants.

I quickly dismissed him and from that day on given the scream and tears had everyone convinced I had given him the strap. Of course my reputation preceded me every day onwards as all the 5-8 year olds ran from me every time I was in yard duty.

I think it left a mark on me as an educator and human being – let alone the poor boy who was sent to me. I guess it’s why I so strong an advocate for the willing to engage in restorative justice where the theme is restoring broken relationships. I do wonder where corporal punishment or the thought of physical punishment contributes to the wider family violence issues we still face today.

Interested in your thoughts on this one.

PS I never again either used or pretended to use a strap on a young person till it was banned 6 years later.