1938-1962 Register of Corporal Punishments Chermside State School

A Simple Exercise Book Records the Punishments

The Corporal Punishment registers were kept by the head teacher of the school to record all corporal punishments administered by the head teacher or an authorized assistant teacher.

Corporal punishment was to be administered as a last resort when the student had committed offences against morality, gross impertinence, and/or wilful and persistent disobedience. Girls over the age of twelve did not receive corporal punishment.

Only one book survives the 96 years of the school.

Apart from the punishment aspect the book revives many memories of ex-pupils and gives some idea of the type of behaviour that pupils of all times have undertaken. Sometimes the behaviour was amusing, sometimes dangerous, sometimes irritating but always interesting.

An entry in November 1938 records that eight pupils were misbehaving in the playground by attacking another pupil and injuring his hand. They were each given one stroke on the hand with the cane. Was this a case of bullying or just some rough play? We will never know.

Later that year there was a motor accident on Gympie Road somewhere near the school and nine pupils went off to see it. At least they were the ones who were caught. They left without asking permission, which would probably not have been given anyway. Teachers just never seem to see things the same way as the pupils. For this transgression they were each given one stroke on the hand. They probably thought the cost was worth while.

The first page concludes at the end of 1938 and the second page starts in February 1943. What happened in the intervening four years? Were the pupils behaving perfectly? Were the teachers overlooking any inappropriate behaviour? We will probably never know.

The Record is Fragmentry

In April 1943 nine pupils were throwing clay at one another and breaking down the trenches, which were dug in play grounds during WWII where pupils could helter if an air raid occurred. These pupils found the trenches exciting places in which to play but they had to pay one stroke of the cane each for the experience.

At the same time two pupils were riding bikes around the playground after being warned several times. They were each given four strokes on the hands and a couple on the legs. This was obviously regarded as a much worse transgression, probably because they could have injured others, especially smaller pupils.

In 1945 a pupil was caught wagging school over two days and then trying to cover up by lying and presenting a forged note. To make matters worse he was implicated in a theft and the police visited the school in the course of the investigation. He was given six on the hands and six on the "hind parts". Twelve strokes would cause a lot of pain and reminds one of the convict punishments.

A similar punishment was meted out in 1947 for two pupils who were caught "Smoking a packet of cigarettes and going to the locker room and stealing." Each got six strokes on the hands and two on the "hind parts".

On the other hand, in 1948 two pupils who were bullying a "weak lad going home from school" were each given only one stroke on the hand. Today this sort of behaviour would be regarded as much more serious than either of the above two instances. Bullying is not tolerated today in either school or workplace.

Over the years there was a variation in the number of recorded incidents. It varied from none in several years to between two and five up till 1948. Then in 1949 a veritable crime wave seemed to hit the school with punishment inflicted on varying numbers of pupils over 33 dates. They were mostly of the one or two strokes variety, for such as fighting, walking on the top rail of the fence, disobedience, throwing stones, pushing another pupil into a puddle, bad language, sword fighting (probably with rulers) and many other minor matters.

Many of these transgressions are the usual things that healthy pupils do in the course of growing up. The sudden increase in recording may be partly due to a change of Head Teachers and this could relate to the training and/or the beliefs of the Head Teachers. It could also, to some extent, reflect the changes taking place in community attitudes.

Only one girl is mentioned in the book. She was in Grade II and she was 'severely admonished'.