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Birmingham Punishment Cane of 1973 | by theirhistory
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Birmingham Punishment Cane of 1973

By the early 1970s the canes that we were hit with, had to conform to set standards now that Social Services was taking more control of how the Children's Homes were run .

Each cane was stamped with the authorities name and date of manufacture. This was to stop certain workers in the homes and schools from using canes that were not to the regulation standard.

Social Services tended to provide the children's homes with official canes that came from the Council's education department. After each punishment a record had to be made in the punishment book.

From one of the official notices. "Caning of children aged over six in the County Council's Homes and other children’s homes in use by the council for the care of children."

"The only form of corporal punishment that will be allowed will be up to six strokes of the light cane on the buttocks, over normal daily clothes.

The permitted reasons for canings are to include: Stealing, bad language, bullying, general house disruptions, bedwetting, school truancy and other disruptive behaviour."

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Had I been in care in the early 1970s my regular punishment of the slipper for wetting the bed, would have been increased to the cane. Going to bed thinking of a probable punishment for wetting the bed only increased my wet beds.

 

The canings for me that spring painfully to mind from home, School and in the Children's Home, and who gave out the punishment.

Naughtiness (grandmother) age 5,

Pushing desks in classroom (headmistress) age 7,

Allowing damage to property (mother) age 7

Striking matches indoors (mother) age 7,

Stepping in ink in classroom (teacher) age 7,

Accused of throwing mashed potato (teacher) age 7,

Flooding washroom (headmaster) age 8,

Throwing small bibles (deputy Gov. in Children's Home) age 8,

Jumping on a dead worm (Headmaster) age 8,

Accused of knocking gloves off a rail (deputy headmaster) age 9,

Fighting and bad behavoir (headmaster) age 9,

Argument with Houseparent (deputy Gov. in children's home) age 9,

Several canings by the class teacher at the age of 9 & 10, the two worst: three strokes on each hand for making a girl cry, and three on each leg for some other wrong doing.

Accused of pissing on Houseparent (Gov. of children's home) age 10. (she used that as the excuse after smashing my head through a glass window - the gov. of the children's home believed her - one caning that I was innocent over).

Fighting in Children's Home (Senior Sister in Children's Home) age 11.

Plus a few more that I've forgotten about

 

So I've possibly helped wear out a few canes during my childhood. The worst part was waiting for the punishment to be given, having to wait an endless time outside for the call to go in for the cane with the hope you were not going to wet your pants with the fear over how many strokes you might receive.

By the time I reached senior school at the age of 11, I knew how to act and avoided the cane simply by luck for the following 5 years.

 

As to did it work - the simple answer - Yes, it kept me in order.

 

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Taken on May 19, 2009