Public Caning/Reprimanding – Does it work?

13 08 2008

I was shocked when one of my students told me someone in his school was being publicly caned in the assembly today.  I didn’t know that such thing still exist.  I have the impression that the schools are no longer allowed to do this, especially caning in public.

I remember during my secondary school year, there was this girl who was being publicly reprimanded during assembly because of her repeated breaking of school rules.  I can still remember she was wearing a shimmery sports shoe, when the school rule stated clearly that only white school shoes are allowed.  This girl continued to have disciplinary issues even after that session.  In my opinion, that session seemed to benefit the rest of us more than her, cause after that incident, I was so scared of breaking school rules for fear of being put in the same position.  In my opinion, that girl seemed to be a scape-goat.

Likewise, while for some, public caning may deters them from getting into trouble, but others, I wonder if it will work.  In my student’s school case, I do not have details of it, but, I just felt heartache on hearing it happened.  I’m not against caning, but, I am sceptical, and probably against PUBLIC caning.  Is it really necessary?

Coincidently, a few days back, I was browsing through a few schools’ website and chance upon one of the Principal’s monthly letter that mentioned something about discipling the pupils. And here’s the extract:

“The school does take a very stern view of infractions, especially in offences which cause hurt to another. However, do please bear in mind that the offenders are still very young in age, and will need a lot of time and patience to change. Whatever disciplinary actions we take, we do this with careful thought, ensuring that the actions are fair and appropriate for the age of the child. For example, we are very reluctant to cane publicly any child especially if they are from the lower primary level because of the trauma it can cause that child. This, and the fact that a naughty child often repeats an offence, can sometimes cause parents to have the perception that not enough is being done to stop the perpetrators.”

I like what I read, there are so much understanding demonstrated in this short paragraph.  I just thought this principal really reminded me something about children, ie, child often repeats an offence. (Note: I have no idea if this school practised public caning. They probably do.  But the letter gave me the impression that other measures will be used first.)

So so so many times, I get really impatient, frustrated and irritated with the repeated mistakes that my children make.  But, a child is a child, he/she tend to repeat an offence.  Not that they want to, but its just the way a child is, and my role is to remind them, and at times, even let go, and let them learn from their mistakes.

I really hope I will always remember: “A child is a child is a child.”




8 responses

13 08 2008
c. farrell

I should be interested to know where you got the idea that caning was not allowed in Singapore schools. It is remarkable that anyone in Singapore should think this. Corporal punishment is widespread and 100% legal in Singapore schools and fully supported by the government. See on my website at
However I am not so well informed about what goes on in primary schools and personally not so sure that public caning is a good thing at that age.
Maybe the confusion arises because individual class teachers are not allowed to use the cane or any other sort of corporal punishment. But principals and discipline masters certainly can and do.
Many schools, especially secondary schools, make it clear that they use the cane, so they cannot be accused of any deviousness. See


15 08 2008

what a truly odd website Mr C Farrell~ and what an unusual obsession…

i can’t help but wonder how it started?

personally i’d rather read 2,500 pages dedicated to international peace-keeping efforts 🙂

Ms E

15 08 2008

It seems caning is on the school rules of boys’ schools or schools with boys. I wonder why? Is it because of the widespread perception boys are rowdier than girls, or boys can withstand the cane punishment better?

Well, I could be wrong to assume this rule is not on all girls’ schools. One way or the other, it doesn’t seem “fair” to the boys, isn’t it? Seems to send the message “girls can be counselled or offered alternative (perhaps milder) disciplinary methods, while boys would go through the ultimate corporal punishment once counselling doesn’t work”.

It’s just like I can picture my son asking me “why I am caned, but mei mei doesn’t get caned (for the same wrongdoing)?”

16 08 2008

Ah… apparently 2 boys were caned that day. One for extortion, and another for bashing school equipment (caught on CCTV).

17 08 2008

actually brightsong, I don’t think only boys’ school get the caning.

I can barely remember in my old school (all girls secondary), there was an incident when a girl was caned.

17 08 2008

Well if so it was illegal. The regulations are absolutely explicit that only boys may be caned in Singapore schools. See the rules quoted on my website.

17 08 2008

“Barely remember”, so I may be wrong.

23 08 2008

I think girls can’t be caned, lah. Even Singapore laws don’t allow caning for females.

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