A system that still leaves parents a choice.

By Joanna Jones

Corporal punishment in schools was banned in 1990 in New Zealand. However, a legal loophole whereby parents could administer a punishment on school grounds was found to be being used in a fee paying school as late as 2007, the same year that all corporal punishment was banned in the country. This is an entirely fictional account based on that scenario, set a couple of years after the original ban.

* * *

Kentish High SchoolCanterbury Avenue Christchurch

27th May 1992

Dear Mr and Mrs Dawkins,

I am writing with regard to your daughter, Linda. As you may be aware, in contrast to her disciplinary record in previous years, Linda has had three detentions to date this year. These have been for smoking, rudeness to a teacher and repeated lateness. On the final occasion Linda was warned that any further flouting of the school rules would lead to the need to consider more serious sanctions.

Unfortunately, earlier today, Linda once again was found smoking inside the school grounds with a young man who is not a student at the school. She admits to having invited the boy onto the premises. As a result of these two compound offences we have reluctantly decided to suspend her, pending a meeting with you to discuss the most appropriate way of continuing her education.

I would be most grateful if you could phone my secretary to arrange a time at your easiest convenience.

I appreciate how difficult this must be. However, as I am sure you realise, the school must have effective discipline that is fair and consistently applied for the benefit of the vast majority of pupils.

I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this matter with you shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Graham Vance, BA

Headmaster

* * *

Mrs Margaret Dawkins looked stonily at her eighteen year old daughter, who unusually was standing fidgeting, rather than sitting, on the other side of the dinner table in the kitchen.

After staring at her silently for what seemed an age she picked up the portable phone in the house and dialed.

“Simon is that you?” She asked.

“I am afraid, dear, that we need to make a visit to the school urgently. How are you fitted?” Was the next statement she made.

“No dear, Richard is fine. Your daughter has got herself suspended for persistent misbehaviour.” A pause then: “Yes, at her age!” Was exclaimed irritably down the phone. She glowered at Linda as she said that to her husband. Linda visibly flinched as the raw anger in her mother hit home.

“You could do after five tonight, or any time tomorrow morning? That’s lovely dear. I’ll phone the school and call you back. Bye.”

As soon as she put the phone down she rifled though a drawer, found the school number and phoned.

“Hello, it is Margaret Dawkins here, mother of Linda. My daughter has just come in with the letter from Mr Vance, requesting a meeting. I was wondering whether if it would be possible to meet tonight any time after five, or if not tomorrow morning?”

A pause, then: “Tonight at five thirty? That is most kind. Please let Mr Vance know we are most relieved and grateful he will see us at such short notice.”

Another pause before Margaret thanked the secretary and said goodbye.

Still ignoring her daughter she phoned Simon again to confirm the arrangement.

Finally she put the phone down and glanced at the kitchen clock. It was 2.30 in the afternoon.

Margaret glared at her daughter before finally pointing to a chair and saying: “Sit!”

Linda nervously did so. Her mother made herself a coffee. Normally she would automatically make one for her daughter too, but clearly she was not in the mood.

Truth was, Mrs Dawkins only needed a coffee to calm down and think. This was the first time anything like this had happened to one of her four children. The older two were at University, one locally, and the other in Wellington. Richard, their youngest, was still at school, and indeed had a mischievous streak. However, he’d never got himself into this sort of pickle, and at sixteen seemed to be calming down.

In contrast Linda, who had been a surprisingly well behaved teenager, now seemed to be making up for it with interest as a young adult.

As she reflected on this the kettle finally boiled and she poured the water into her coffee mug. Belatedly she asked Linda whether she wanted one.

Thinking sipping coffee might be better than staring across the table like a naughty child she said: “Yes, thanks mum.”

Margaret placed the coffee in front of her daughter then sat and nursed her own mug. “You never told me you had already had detentions this term.” She started.

Linda replied: “I didn’t want to bother you.”

Her mother looked at her angrily. “You mean you didn’t want the consequences at home. Remind me.”

Linda groaned as she parroted off the family rule. “I know. A detention at school gets you grounded for one week.”

“So you’re going to have a lot of groundings to catch up on aren’t you? To say nothing of the extras for not telling us.”

Linda blanched. Her best friend, who was one of the youngest in her year, had her eighteenth party in a couple of weeks. However, now was clearly not the time to negotiate.

Her mother carried on. “I guess you’d better start explaining things.” She looked again at the letter. “Smoking. I noticed the smell on your clothes when washing, but assumed it was secondary, from others. Since when did that start?”

However, before Linda could answer her mother suddenly put two and two together and said: “Don’t tell me. It’s that boy, Bill, you’re seeing isn’t it?”

Linda flushed. She could not deny it.

Her mother then went through each of the three issues and got more and more angry as Bill kept coming up. Rudeness to a teacher – she’d been caught kissing Bill rather passionately at the entrance to the school and been told off. Bill had sworn at the teacher then told him rather bluntly where he should go, and Linda had gone along with the bravado. Lateness – she’d been dallying after getting the bus in with Bill. Bill was a mechanic at a local garage near the school, and started at 9 am, fifteen minutes after her start time.

Neither Margaret nor Simon really approved of their daughter’s boyfriend. She was bright and (at least until recently) hard working. While Bill was very good looking (and had a body builder figure) they could not see what Linda could see in him. He was rather uncouth and had limited interests; cars, rugby and girls, seemingly in that order. He also had the annoying attitude of considering himself God’s gift to women which, while it was something Linda might have fallen for, her parents most certainly had not.

However, Linda was eighteen, and her parents knew she had a right to make her own choices in matters of the heart. She of course did not have a right to throw away her education, or for that matter to abuse the investment they were making in sending her to a top fee paying school in the city.

It was of course Bill who she’d invited into a quiet corner of the school grounds. She’d had a study period and therefore was not going to be missed.

Bill apparently had been on a coffee break and there had been a lull. He could not go further on the car he’d been working on as the fault was not what he’d been told, and the part actually needed was not in stock. A colleague was picking it up along with some other things.

Bill had not made things easy for Linda by adopting his usual rather aggressive tone when confronted. This time at least Linda had tried to shut him up and get him out. However, the fact he’d been there at all was enough for Mr Vance, to say nothing of the smoking.

Having heard the story, Margaret asked: “So what is the school going to say to us?”

Linda grimaced. “The same as in the letter I suppose.”

Her mother probed further. “I guessed that already. I meant what sort of sanctions are on the table.”

Linda stared at her mug. “I think suspension for a while seems to be the most likely.”

“No alternatives then?” Margaret asked.

Linda wanted to say no, but knew it would be pointless to lie. However, she could not bring herself to utter the alternative.

After a long pause it was Margaret who asked. “No ‘whacking’ option then? Is that not why Mr Vance wants to speak to us?”

Despite knowing it was coming Linda still exclaimed in, perhaps feigned, surprise: “Mum, I am eighteen!”

Margaret looked stonily across the table. “Is that meant to mean ‘I am eighteen and I am too old to have my bottom smacked!’, or ‘I am eighteen and need all the study I can get for my exams so can’t afford to be suspended!’ ?”

Linda stared back at her mother. She’d been dreading her mother going down this route. After a pause to think, she tried another tack. “You haven’t spanked me for about five years, mum! Surely I’m…”

“Maybe you have not needed a spanking in that time, until now that is.” Margaret interrupted.

Linda looked at her coffee. The school her parents had put her and her siblings into had a strict discipline policy. She had been slippered a couple of times in the first two years, but had (unlike her big brother and sister, and her younger brother) avoided the cane. When corporal punishment had been abolished a couple of years ago she had been delighted, as she always feared the pain, to say nothing of the humiliation involved.

However, although most things were now handled using other methods, the school, along with a number of other fee paying institutions in the country, had found a way round the ban; invite a parent in to do the deed. It was rare enough, but perhaps once a month some boy got it, if the rumours were true. Also she’d only heard of one girl being ‘done’ since the system had been brought in. None of them (boy or girl) had been in Year 13 like her.

Looking at her mother, she tried again. “Please mum, I know being suspended is not ideal, but I know to keep up with my work, I promise. I really don’t think being whacked is the right thing for an adult.”

Her mother retorted angrily, “Who still behaves as a child!”

Linda dropped her eyes as her mother stared at her.

Margaret continued: “And, adult you may be, but you still live in our house, and must abide by our rules. As far as I am concerned if you are suspended then I think you know what sort of punishment you will get at home.”

“Please mum.” Linda bleated.

However, Margaret was not in a sympathetic mood. “Linda, this is the choice: Take whatever alternative the school offers you to avoid suspension, and you get one hard spanking at home for letting the family down. Take the suspension and you will be spanked tonight, in the middle and at the end, before you go back to school. Further, while you are at home I will set you a pile of chores and you can guess the consequences of not doing them to my satisfaction!”

Linda stared at her mother aghast.

However, Margaret was just getting into her stride. “Further, whichever you chose, you’re grounded for ten weeks; three for the detentions, three for hiding them and four for this disgrace.”

“This is so unfair!” Linda exclaimed.

“In what way? Actions have consequences. You know the school rules, being in your final year, yet you ignored them. Five times in about three months allowing for the two today!”

Linda stared angrily at her mother, who merely glared back. Eventually Linda dropped her eyes to the coffee cup, defeated.

After about five minutes of silence she said: “I don’t have much choice, do I?”

Margaret replied: “Well I expect the school will not be as firm as I would be, and at least you’ll get to keep your knickers on.”

Linda nodded absently, then suddenly looked up in shock. “You want me to take my trousers down in front of Mr Vance? No way!”

“It’s me who’s going to have to do it and you know my rules.” Said Margaret implacably.

Linda knew the rules only too well. All punishments in the house were given with underpants or panties down. The only compromise was that once they turned thirteen then it was mum that did the girls, while dad would deal with the boys. She wasn’t sure that she and her sister had the better deal. Her mum did not spank often, but she could remember both bottom blisterings since then (both at thirteen) all too well.

However, stripping her trousers down at school was more than she could take. Linda begged and cried and eventually a compromise was reached. She would wear her thin summer slacks, and one of her thongs (which she knew her mother disliked) underneath.

She didn’t know the ‘compromise’ was exactly what her mother had planned from the beginning.

By this point it was after three. Linda then remembered that she was supposed to be meeting Bill in the evening.

To meet him, even to say she couldn’t see him for (quite) a few weeks, was dismissed. Her mother was having none of it. Her response was simple: “Phone him at work!”

“But he told me not to.” She begged.

“I am sure you can explain your mother forced you to, and, since this is mostly his fault, I am sure he won’t mind.” Replied Margaret.

Linda did not even have the number of the garage and had to look it up. Reluctantly she phoned.

Margaret listened as Linda said: “Hello, is Bill Colman there?” A pause. “I’m his girlfriend.”

There was a longer pause, presumably while Bill was found. However, the next thing Linda said was totally unexpected. In a shocked angry voice she shouted down the phone: “Who is Amy?”

The rest of the conversation was short and irate on Linda’s part. Eventually she slammed the phone down and stalked off to her room, the tears were already forming as she did so. Linda felt the bottom had just fallen out of her world.

Margaret chose to let her be.

Around quarter past four Margaret knocked with a cup of tea and went in. Linda was lying in her bed, very red eyed.

With the tea in her hands, Linda calmed down enough to tell her mother the story, much of which she’d guessed. Bill was a two-timing b*****d. Amy was another girl. When he said he was busy with the boys on most Saturday nights it was a lie. He was seeing her. He had played the same line with Amy for tonight and also on others, including most Fridays, she supposed. In the conversation he’d eventually admitted that he kept things separate by Amy only phoning work and her only phoning him at home.

To Linda’s fury he did not seem to see anything much wrong with having two girls at the same time. She’d told him at the end it was over.

Crying into her tea she said: “Mum, I’ve been so stupid.”

Sympathetically Margaret replied: “We can all be stupid in love.”

“I gave that b*****d my vir…!” She stopped as she had not admitted that before.

Margaret easily guessed the half said word, and was not surprised. She was eighteen after all.

She rubbed her daughter’s back, then gave her a hug as the emotions ran out.

After half an hour Margaret reminded Linda gently that she still had her appointment with Mr Vance.

Miserably she pulled out a thong and the summer slacks, and then put them on. She did not comment on her mother patiently waiting by the door.

The next ten minutes or so were spent washing her face in the bathroom, before finally she was ready.

The car journey was conducted in near silence as they ploughed through the rush hour traffic, mercifully mainly going in the other direction. They arrived at the school five minutes early.

Linda noticed her dad’s car and her heart gave a flutter of dread as she saw he was waiting angrily inside.

Fortunately Margaret got to her husband first and explained briefly all that had happened that afternoon as they walked into the school.

As they sat down to wait outside the Head’s office, Simon said grumpily: “At least I suppose you recognise how stupid you’ve been.”

Linda nodded miserably. The break up with Bill had taken her mind off the punishment she was due, but now she felt the first pangs of dread at what she was about to submit to.

Finally they were invited in, a few minutes after half past.

Linda was silent as the Head explained in more detail the issues, and why he’d got to this point. Her parents then went though the rigmarole of apologising for her ‘uncharacteristic’ behaviour. After about ten minutes the first mention of sanction was made.

The Head was of the view that a two week long suspension was most appropriate, unless the parents wished to opt for the corporal punishment option.

Linda squirmed nervously.

Simon asked: “So the parental corporal punishment, it is basically one of us give the caning as the school is no longer permitted to do so?”

Mr Vance replied: “Basically yes, but since starting the new scheme we’ve found that many parents find the cane rather difficult, so we have adopted the American style school paddle. You can use a cane if you prefer though.”

Linda watched in sick horror as her parents asked and then examined both the paddle and cane before making a choice. The cane was probably just short of three feet long and was clearly quite flexible despite its apparent thickness. The paddle was of a dark word, and somewhere between a foot and a half and two feet long, including an eight inch handle. It was polished smooth and had eight holes with well rounded edges in the six inch wide blade. From her bottom’s perspective, neither looked particularly appealing!

Margaret asked Mr Vance how many strokes would be needed.

“Whichever implement you choose, we normally suggest six of the best.” Replied the headmaster.

“Only six?” Murmured Simon.

Linda spoke for the first time. “Please Dad,” she exclaimed embarrassedly.

Margaret picked up the paddle and looked at her husband. “I’m going to use this.”

Decision made, Margaret turned to Mr Vance. “So what happens now?”

Mr Vance looked at Linda. “Miss Dawkins, have you anything to say?”

Linda stood nervously and realised as she looked at the three older adults that some acknowledgement of her errors was needed. “I am very sorry sir.” She said quietly. “I have let myself down badly. I am prepared to accept the consequences, and know that suspension is not a good option for my studies.”

“Very well,” he replied and looked at Margaret. “Are you ready?”

Margaret nodded.

Mr Vance’s desk was already fairly clear and, picking up a couple of files, he suggested Linda ‘make herself comfortable’ across it.

Linda grimaced at the thought of being ‘comfortable’ bent over a desk waiting for the nearly two foot long paddle to warm her bottom. However, she did as asked and obediently bent over and stuck her bottom out.

With the thin slacks and thong underneath there was nothing to break the curve of her body as the trousers stretched tightly over the proffered area.

Simon Dawkins, despite having some sympathy for his daughter’s plight, especially as regards the two timing jerk that was now her ex-boyfriend, was still angry enough to consider suggesting to his wife that Linda should have her trousers down, but realised quickly that it was neither really necessary nor appropriate. He stood back, next to Mr Vance.

Both men let Margaret take over.

The paddle felt somewhat heavy in her hand as she approached her daughter. She felt sorry for her, but knew that this was neither the time nor place to show it.

Lining up the paddle across the lower half of her daughter’s buttocks she slowly drew it back, gritted her teeth and with a sudden surge administered the first blow.

Linda gasped as pain blossomed across her rear.

Perhaps around ten seconds later a second landed on top of the first and the pain multiplied, by more than two.

Linda gasped again but stayed silent.

Both Dawkins parents were surprised. Normally their offspring begged cried and screamed as they were punished, and that was not with something as dreadful as the school paddle now being used. Clearly the presence of Mr Vance was stiffening Linda’s resolve.

Whack!

A pained sound emanated as Linda desperately tried to keep her mouth shut.

On the fourth whack Linda gave an “oooh” as the pain increased further. The paddle was thick and each blow was more or less landing on top of the same area of her bottom. Linda grimly held on and prayed she could see it through.

Whack.

“Aa-agh!” Linda yelled for the first time. She cursed the pain and the fact that her eyes were getting wet. However, there was now only one to go.

Her mother watched sympathetically as her daughter wriggled over the desk, and waited till she was mostly still before unleashing a final resounding whack across her daughter’s rear.

With another yell Linda stood, hands of course going immediately to her poor, pulverised bottom. She was breathing deeply and was acutely aware of the few tears that had escaped.

As Linda wriggled and rubbed her bottom Margaret returned the paddle to Mr Vance, who put it away.

Finally it was over. The three Dawkins thanked the Head and left, Linda promising to not let herself down again.

In the car on the way home Linda sat dejectedly next to her mother with her hands under her thighs. In addition to the pain in her rear she was very aware that she was due a second spanking at home and grounded for over two months. All for a boyfriend who had cheated on her.

Linda knew her mother was feeling sorry for her and thought if she was ever going to get any sort of remission it would be now. Her dad was always the more implacable. “Are you really going to spank me again?” She asked pleadingly.

Margaret had been pondering this very issue. After a brief pause to finalise her thoughts she replied: “I will give you a choice. I will let you off the spanking but there will be no negotiation on the grounding, and that includes Grace’s 18th a week on Saturday. The alternative is you take the spanking and you can have a partial grounding of five afternoons or evenings of your choice in the ten weeks.”

Linda knew it was the best she was going to get offered. She also knew she had no choice. “I’ll take the spanking, mum. Is there no chance of a few extra times though?” She pleaded. It was worth a try at least.

She expected her mother to say no immediately, but truth be told Margaret felt sorry for the way she’d been duped and cheated on by Bill, and was more sympathetically inclined than usual.

After another pause she said, “Oh very well, I will give you eight, but woe betide you if you break curfew even once!”

“Thanks mum.” Replied Linda genuinely. “Are you going to do it tonight?”

Her mum knew by ‘it’ she meant her now agreed appointment with a wooden spoon.

“I was going to leave it to the weekend.” She replied. “Why?”

Linda squirmed uncomfortably and wondered whether what she was thinking was a good idea, but she really did not fancy waiting a few days. Eventually she said very quietly: “I just want to get it over with.”

Margaret Dawkins thought long and hard before answering. “I won’t go easy on you because you have already got a sore bottom.”

“I know.” Replied Linda dully.

“Very well, when we get in, go and wait in my bedroom, bare bottom.”

“Can I keep my thong on?” Asked Linda, with a hint of a plea.

“No.” Replied her mother flatly.

Linda didn’t argue and the rest of the short trip home was silent as both women pondered the day’s events.

Linda wondered if she’d done the right thing as she removed her slacks and thong, and waited, nose in the corner, for her mother to attend to her. As she’d stripped she had of course taken the opportunity to look at her red, bruised bottom, with some clearly visible circle edges from the paddle’s holes. It would be worse soon she knew. Vaguely she could hear her mother and father arguing. It seemed that her father was not happy with the ‘leniency’ and the fact mother had done it without consulting him. However, eventually he acquiesced and Linda closed her eyes and tried to calm herself as her mother audibly climbed the stairs, no doubt spoon in hand.

Sure enough the door opened and her mother came in. Linda realised nervously that she was still clearly angry from the argument.

Margaret grabbed her dressing chair and put it in the clearest part of the room. “Right Linda, as you want, let’s get this over with. Bend over the back of the chair.”

Linda nervously did as she was told, grabbing the front legs as low as she could.

Placing her left hand on the small of her back, and warning her daughter that she would fetch her clothes brush if she moved, she let fly with the spoon, raining blows over the entirety of the already reddened bottom.

On top of the paddling, it did not take long for Linda to be reduced to a bawling wreck. She was in agony, begging, bawling and screaming as the blows continued to rain down. Finally her mother stopped and she lay sobbing over the chair.

Eventually she could stand, but instead of going to her room she collapsed in her mother’s arms and sobbed the humiliation of her punishments and treatment by her ex-boyfriend out of her.

It took over an hour before she was in a fit state to go and put her pyjamas on to get an early night.

After washing, and apologising to a now mollified father, Linda went to bed a sadder and wiser young lady.

The End