Richard Oliff: Attacked at school... by the teachers

Richard recalls the horrors of corporal punishment
Richard recalls the horrors of corporal punishment

From the ages of 11 to 14 I was physically beaten by several adults.

Sometimes repeatedly by the same person. This was as a direct result of a regime in schools called state sponsored corporal punishment.

The attackers used canes, rulers, tennis shoes, euphemistically called the “slipper”, and even wooden blackboard erasers thrown at one’s head.

Years later, in a different world, a listener to my radio show said he’d witnessed the demolition of Corby’s boys school and had noticed a skip full of discarded documents standing on the road.

A book on the top of the pile caught his attention and he’d asked if he could keep it: “Just take it – it’s only rubbish” was the response.

This was the school punishment book – a record of corporal chastisement meted out for a given period listing date, name of scholar, form or class, nature of offence, the penalty, and the signature of the teacher who administered the punishment.

On January 29, 1971, a boy from form 12 had caused a disturbance during a lesson, for which he was given two strokes of the cane.

He was given an additional two strokes for not having the nessesary books required for the lesson.

The entries range from 1968 to 1978, yet it was in 1966, at the age of 11, that I had my first experience of exactly what it was like to feel the pain of the cane.

I remember being late for a class, running along a corridor in my new school uniform complete with a new satchel full of new books.

Then I heard a blood-curdling voice shouting from behind.

I stopped in my tracks, turned, and there in the distance stood a man wielding a stick telling me to “come here boy”.

Ten years later, on June 21, 1976, a boy was given one stroke of the cane on his buttocks for exactly the same “offence”.

Today the state and society protects children from such abuse.