As a young boy, going to school in Scotland in the early 70s, I was punished quite a lot by my teachers. These punishments included spankings, the slipper, tawse and later the cane. Punishments were sometimes given bare, over underpants or, for minor wrongdoing, over trousers.
Of all of these beatings, the most memorable was the first. I was about seven years old when one of my classmates told my teacher how I had thrown a stone at him in the playground. There had been repeated warnings about this sort of behaviour and I knew that I was in trouble – but I did not expect what was to follow.
Without warning, my teacher grabbed me and led me from my classroom. She told me that she was taking me to see Miss Stewart, the assistant headmistress, who looked after all the younger children. It seemed like a very long walk across the main hall to her office. My teacher knocked on the door and led me in.
Miss Stewart was a woman in her early 60s. She sat behind an old-fashioned wooden desk while my teacher told her what I had done. Miss Stewart then told my teacher that she could return to her class and that she would take care of me. Miss Stewart questioned me about the incident and I denied that I had thrown the stone. Of course, I was wasting my time.
She told me that because this was such a serious matter, she was going to give me the belt. I was terrified – I had never even seen a school tawse, let alone been on the receiving end of it. I had only heard rumours about its use from older boys.
Miss Stewart opened a drawer in her desk and brought out a long brown leather strap with three tails and laid it on the desk in front of me.
By this time, I was in tears and pleading her not to use the belt on me. I was promising to be good from now on. Miss Stewart started to tell me how every child who was strapped got a letter sent home to their parents, telling them. This scared me even more, as I knew that I would get an even worse punishment from my parents.
I begged and pleaded with the tears running down my face until eventually Miss Stewart relented and agreed not to belt me. She said that my name would go into her ‘little black book’ and if I was ever sent to her again, it would be the strap for sure. Then she said that I could not be allowed to leave her office without any form of punishment and I was told that she would smack me instead.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Every child has had a smack at some time or another – how terrible could this be? A few moments and it would all be over – or so I thought!
Miss Stewart got up from her seat and came round to my side of the desk. She pulled up a chair and sat down. I turned round, facing away from her, ready to feel her hand hit my pert bottom.
She just laughed at me. As I turned round to see what was wrong, she said: “You don’t think I am going to smack you like that, and through those trousers do you?”
With that, she pointed to the top of my trousers and told me to undo them and let them drop to the ground. I was shaking but did as I was told. I think I was too frightened to do anything else. The next thing I remember was her cool smooth hands slipping inside the waistband of my underpants and them being taken down.
I stood there naked in front of her and she drew back her skirt, pulling it right up almost to her waist. I could see her stockings and the bare, pale flesh above them. Then I was pulled over her knee and the spanking began.
I must have been there at least five minutes. I cried and cried and my bare bottom burned as her hand flashed up and down. She was obviously an expert in her field.
When the spanking was over, I was allowed to stand up and I remember her saying not to pull up my pants until I was told I could do so. Then I was allowed to return to my class, still with tears running down my face.
That was a day that I will never forget and it began a strong interest in corporal punishment, as experienced by both myself and my classmates.