Everyone involved wants to, but the law forbids it. Or does it? This does not refer to UK law.
By Harry Lewis
Janet Peters put her pen down and sighed. As Headmistress of Grayfords, one of the most traditional schools for girls in the city suburbs, she found herself having to deal with the occasional problem with, as she regarded it, one hand tied behind her back.
She had been in her post for a few months but already realised that her year in the USA had demonstrated that, in Ohio at least, corporal punishment could be an effective sanction. So when she considered that Karen Compton was waiting outside her study for punishment, she wished she could deal with the matter in a method which was now deemed illegal.
Karen was just below medium height, athletic with copper coloured curly hair and a complexion and temper that often go with such colouring. Indeed it was her temper that had seen her sent from the field in an inter schools lacrosse match. It was the sending off that had seen her standing outside the study. To be quite honest, she was not too bothered. After all, not only was there little that Miss Peters could do, but also her father was chair of the governors of the school.
“Come in, girl,” said the headmistress. Karen stood before her and Janet Peters looked at her and felt that the girl was not even concerned to be there.
“I shall not beat around the bush, Karen Compton. It is quite disgraceful that you were sent off whilst representing the school and I shall wipe that smirk off your face! Miss Dawson, the games mistress, tells me that you are one of the better members of the team and quite the most enthusiastic. You will therefore NOT enjoy the punishment I have decided to issue. Indeed you can think yourself very lucky that we are not in Ohio. The paddle is still an available sanction there and no girl ever took eight from me and came back for a second dose! However, be that as it may, I have decided that you will miss the next four lacrosse matches and you will spend the time whilst you are not playing by assisting in cleaning the chapel.”
For the first time Karen was taken aback. She had expected a telling off and an essay to do. Not this!
“Please Miss Peters,” she said. “I can’t miss the next four games, I just can’t. We have a cup semi final and if we win, then the fourth game would be the final. Please can’t I do lines or a long essay?”
“I am sorry but my word is final. I shall inform Miss Dawson in the morning,” said the Head with growing impatience.
“Well can’t you whack me or something? Look you can do it now,” said the now distraught Karen and she turned round and bent over as if to encourage her teacher.
“As tempted as I might be,” said Miss Peters. “I cannot, so that is an end to it, unless you want to miss six games, of course. Now get off to your dormitory.”
The girl left the study muttering darkly to herself.
Some ten minutes later Janet Peters phone rang.
“Miss Peters? Hullo, it is Tony Compton here. I have just had Karen on to me in floods of tears.”
“Mr Compton, I had half expected this call. I am afraid I have little choice than to give Karen the punishment I have given her. Did she tell you that she asked if she could be given corporal punishment instead?”
“No, she did not,” said her father. “But I wish I could sanction it!”
Janet Peters was a little surprised to hear the chair of governors say such a thing. “Really?” She said.
“Certainly,” replied Mr Compton. “I got my share at school and it honestly did no harm. I wish we could re-instate the cane and slipper but there you are. However I promised Karen I would see if there was any alternative punishment she could have.”
“I am sorry, Mr Compton. My mind is made up. Anything else I may consider would not be as keenly felt as the lack of Lacrosse.”
“Well I have to dash out now to a meeting of the inter-faith council tonight. Can I ask you to think it over tonight and I shall call you in the morning?”
“I can’t stop you calling, but I shall not be changing my mind, Mr Compton. Goodbye.”
The next morning, after assembly Miss Peters answered her telephone. “Hullo, Janet Peters, who is calling?”
“Oh Miss Peters, it is me, Tony Compton.”
“Well I have NOT changed my mind Mr Compton.”
“Well that is not actually why I am calling. At the inter-faith meeting I was chatting to Ahmida Nazrul, her daughter left Grayfords last year. Anyway she was quite upset because her son takes religious instruction in Islam at a local mudrassa, or religion school, and he was given a quite severe slippering yesterday. Apparently it is totally legal in religion schools. I know we do not currently have any Muslim girls but I can’t remember if there are any Jewish girls.”
“We do have two,” said Miss Peters. “Sharon Greenberg and Estelle Wilson.”
“Is that Danny Wilson’s daughter?” Said Mr Compton. “He is a barrister and I was at school with him.”
“Her father’s name is Daniel,” said Miss Peters. “But I could not consider turning the school into a Jewish seminary. Besides which, apart from a tendency to chat a little too much, they are exemplary students and I would not dream of chastising them just because I may be able to”
“Look Miss Peters, leave it with me, I have an idea. I will call you soon. Bye.”
Tony Compton was ushered into the chambers of Daniel Wilson QC.
“Well ,well,” said the barrister. “What brings you here, Tony?”
“Danny, it is not a social call. What do you know about the law relating to schools and corporal punishment?”
“Well as I am sure you are aware it is completely banned from all schools, public or private. Not like our day,” he chuckled. “Except of course from religion schools. Can’t understand why but, even there, it is still not available in Christian schools. Mudrassas, cheders, they can.”
“Keders? What are they?” Said Compton.
“Not ‘K’ but ‘Ch’ sounding like the ‘LL’ in Welsh places like Llandudno.”
“Alright, Cheders then. What are they?”
“They are Jewish religion schools, though I have never heard of them using CP.”
“But if we opened up a Cheder at Grayfords we could employ such methods?”
“Well I suppose so,” said the barrister. “Mind you the parents would have to give their consent and an opt–out must be available. But if you go ahead I can assure you that my Estelle would NOT be opted out.”
Once again Janet Peters’ phone rang. Before she could speak an excited Tony Compton told her all that had transpired. What is more he had already contacted all 165 parents and 47 were opting out, the rest leaving it to the school.
At assembly Miss Peters announced that the school was going to become multi religious, as she put it, and that on Monday and Wednesday evening it would act as a school for the study of the Jewish faith and that it would be subject to the rules and regulations of such institutions.
During the first session Karen Compton was sent to the headmistress for eating in class. It was particularly bad behaviour, due to the fact that the food in question was a packet of crisps, smokey bacon flavour.
“Well, well,” said Miss Peters. “Why am I not surprised to see you here Karen? You do not need to answer me. I suppose you think that if I cane you it will get you off the Lacrosse suspension? Well if that is what you think, you might find that you are wrong. Bend over the back of the chair!”
Karen felt sick. She was about to be caned AND it was not going to save her from the suspension. As she bent over, Miss Peters lifted the girl’s skirt to reveal very skimpy knickers. However there was no uniform regulation for the cheder so no further action was required.
“These won’t give you much protection, girl,” said the headmistress.
Indeed a quick pull of the waistband and most of the garment disappeared between the two almost translucent buttocks.
“I am going to give you four strokes of the slipper, for eating offensive crisps and think yourself lucky that I do not have my paddle from Ohio!”
The first blow landed right in the middle of her left cheek. It was hard but not quite unbearable.
This will be OK, thought Karen.
Number two was in the same spot and a brief ooh came from the girl. The third and fourth were both delivered to the other side of her, by now, rather sore bottom. After the last whack Karen rose from her position.
“No girl, get back down,” said Janet Peters. “I have decided to be lenient. You will now take six of the very best with my shiny new cane BUT you will be able to play for the school lacrosse team. Miss Dawson said she needed you.”
Karen felt the cool cane rest on her now rather pink bottom cheeks. She gritted her teeth and tensed her body as much as she could. Miss Peters took aim and brought a fierce crack of the cane whistling on to Karen’s backside. The yell which she emitted was really quite spectacular. She had not expected that anything could ever be so painful. Indeed she felt for a moment that she would beg for the suspension to be re-instated. The moment passed and she suffered, with some small degree of dignity, the remaining five strokes. After the last of the six Miss Peters surveyed six perfectly placed lines from a point just at the top of the buttocks down to that crease where bottom and thigh meet. She also noticed the tear drops from her victim on the seat of the chair.
“You may go,” was all she said and the wretched girl limped off in silence.
Shortly after that Tony Compton’s phone rang.
“Hi Dad,” said his daughter. “It worked! I am back on the team! But Dad, you might have warned me how horrible it would be.”
“Karen, dear,” said her father. “If I had been involved it would have been much worse.”
After the door to her study closed, Janet Peters picked up her telephone and rang her friend Lucy Tyler, in Ohio. “Lucy,” she said. “Can you do me a favour? There is something I want you to send me.”