Contrary to what many believe, some children did get their bare bottoms smacked in school. I know, because I witnessed one such punishment myself, administered to two boys in front of the whole class.
The incident happened at a private school I attended, which took both boys and girls. The year was 1967, and everyone in that class would have been seven or eight years old at the time.
Unbeknown to most of the class, during the lunch break the two boys in question had forced a younger pupil to swallow some marbles. Their victim had been taken to the local hospital as a precaution, but was not seriously harmed – presumably the doctors believed nature would take its course, and the boy would eventually just poo them out again.
Shortly after we got back from our break, the headmistress – quite a formidable lady in her early 40s, always smartly dressed and quite attractive – burst into our classroom. She ordered the two boys to come out to the front, then spoke to our own teacher – a young, single woman, whom I would imagine was pretty much fresh out of teacher training college.
The headmistress began by giving the boys a sound telling-off, shouting at them forcefully – and this is when we found out what had happened. Neither boy made no reply, and no doubt it was felt that their silence was pretty much as good as a confession.
Finally, the headmistress sat down at the end of a bench alongside a large art table. She grabbed one of the boys, pulled his shorts and pants down, then made him bend over the bench beside her.
She held the child down with one hand, then smacked his (initially) very white bare bottom about 20 times with her hand until his buttocks turned bright red. When he was told to get up, the boy was clearly in pain and holding his bottom, although he was not crying. He seemed totally unconcerned that his little penis was on show to everyone, including the girls, who seemed to be taking a great deal of interest in this impromptu anatomy lesson.
Having witnessed his friend’s punishment, the other boy started backing away. At that point, our young teacher grabbed him by the arm and took him across to the headmistress for his own smacking.
Whilst the headmistress pulled the naughty boy across the bench, our class teacher pulled his shorts and pants down. The boy began to struggle, so our teacher sat alongside on the bench and held his legs down firmly as the headmistress smacked his bare bottom.
Perhaps because he hadn’t taken his punishment obediently, this smacking seemed to be harder and go on longer than the first. and as our teacher held the boy’s legs down, you could see his little testicles whilst he was being smacked. His bottom was a really deep crimson by the time he was eventually allowed to stand up again. This time there were tears. The boy held his sore bottom and his privates jiggled about, again on full view to both boys and girls.
Finally, both boys were ordered to pull up their pants and shorts and follow both teachers out of the classroom. Our own teacher came back in shortly afterwards, and the lesson continued without the two trouble-makers.
However, about 30 minutes later, our teacher set us some work to get on with and she then left the class for a moment. We could hear her shouting at the two boys again, then the unmistakeable sound of bottoms being smacked came through the door. I don’t know whether the boys were done on the bare again, though.
Eventually, both of them – plus our teacher – came back in. The boys went straight to their desks, their heads in their arms and presumably still having a bit of a cry.
Although bare bottom smackings were rare, corporal punishment in that school was not. Our young teacher didn’t punish her pupils a great deal – she was actually very popular, so maybe didn’t have to – but when she did punish a child, she made them bend over their own desk to be slippered. This would be the usual plimsoll used in English schools at the time.
The normal dose was two or three firm strokes across the seat of the boy’s shorts. It was always boys who got their bottoms ‘heated’, as our teacher put it – except for one memorable occasion, when she decided to slipper two girls who had been continually talking in class, despite several warnings.
I remember there was almost an electric atmosphere as the girls were punished, as nobody ever expected girls to be slippered, but sure enough both were told to bend over their desks and pull their dresses tight against their bottoms, presumably so they would feel the chastisement sharply. They were given two whacks each.