Many years ago now, I spent a year working in a school office as an assistant secretary. One of the duties of that job was to be a witness for corporal punishment given to students who were in grades 8 to 12. There had to be one male and one female witness present for all students who were paddled by either the principal or vice-principal at the school.
In order to try to keep things equal, all punishments were given at the end of the student’s gym class when they were wearing their gym uniforms, which included a pair of thin nylon shorts for either boys or girls. That way it did not matter what the child wore to school – all punishments were given over the same level of clothing.
On average, around three children would be paddled in any given day, although I remember a staggering 15 kids getting their bottoms spanked in one day. Normally six swats were given to the student and parents were always notified that their son or daughter had received corporal punishment. Needless to say, in most cases this led to additional spankings being given at home!
Students who were about to be paddled were always easy to spot in their gym uniform waiting in the school administration office. They were always fidgeting while waiting their turn. Their gym uniforms revealed a lot of other reactions, perhaps surprising ones. Many of the boys would develop erections in anticipation of the paddling and the bulge in their shorts would be quite prominent. The girls often developed hard, swollen nipples by way of the same anticipation, which again were very visible through the thin clothing.
Students were usually made to wait for 15 minutes or more before they were punished, to increase the anticipation of a very sore bottom. The child would then be called into the office of either the principal (a man) or the vice-principal (a woman). The witnesses would already be present. Students were often punished by a teacher of the opposite sex, and indeed it was a byword among the boys that the vice-principal gave much harder swats than her male superior.
When a student was called into the office for the administration of swats they were always quite nervous and sniffles and blurry, tearful eyes were common. The child was reminded why they were being punished, then told to bend over the desk, grasp the other side and spread their legs apart slightly.
Almost uniformly, the first swat administered would result in a loud gasp and the child’s legs would start trembling as it hit low on the butt and very hard. They would normally buck up over the desk a bit as the sting of the paddle registered.
By the third swat both boys and girls, no matter what their age, would be sobbing and by the sixth stroke all would be crying. I was surprised that often the girls would initially take their swats much better than the boys but at the end of the punishment would let it all out, crying up a storm while the boys reacted more during their swats and then tried to look stoic when leaving the room.
Once the swats were administered, they could spend a few minutes in the office to compose themselves before they all headed to the bathrooms to check the damage on their behinds. After six swats, both cheeks would have some bruising and their butts would be deep red in colour. All swats were given with a lot of force and a loud smack could be heard as it landed on the offender’s bottom. Howls and cries were common, as were begging and pleading – all of which was obviously ignored.
Parents were also given the option of administering the swats at school if they desired. Any child who had their parent show up to spank them was in real trouble. Most parents that came to punish their children with the paddle did so on the bare bottom and often fully naked, which caused major embarrassment to the girls especially who had to expose their breasts and press them against the cold hard surface of the desk as they bent over.
Also, few parents stopped at six swats and a parent giving one swat per year of age was not unheard of, or a parent giving six swats of the paddle followed by the strap, cane or a babyish over-the-knee spanking with hairbrush or spoon to finish the job properly.
It was easy to tell the children who had received swats in school that day as they always walked slower than the other students, often had difficulty sitting and may have had periods of sobbing as the pain of a freshly paddled bottom came in contact with the hard plastic classroom seats.
The day after their paddling, students often showed greater signs of discomfort as they probably were recovering from an even worse punishment given when they got home from school.
All this may sound a bit harsh but I think that compared to today, our school’s paddling policy kept students and teachers safer and happier. The children knew their boundaries – and the punishment for stepping outside of them.