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BOTD 02-16-13 The Troubled Boy - A Kat Production

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Bransom Postmaster
The Troubled Boy
A Kat Production

You are deputy headmaster of an independent school, located in a nation where corporal punishment is still permitted. Despite growing pressure, your school continues to cane, though only you and a small number of other staff are authorized to administer corporal punishment. A pupil sentenced to a caning – or, indeed, any punishment – has the option of appealing the punishment through several channels. The matron can overrule a caning on medical grounds; the counselor/psychologist can overrule a caning if he feels it would be detrimental to the pupil’s mental or emotional well being; either you or the headmaster can exercise your judgement to overrule any other staff members.

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One of the pupils in the school, twelve-year-old Ronald, is in trouble for vandalizing a desk by carving his initials into it. Ronald is a scholarship pupil, and though he is very bright academically, he has a difficult background. His father is dead, and his mother has struggled financially. Many of the experiences other pupils in the school take for granted have been denied to Ronald. As punishment for the vandalism, Ronald’s form master tells the boy he will miss an upcoming field trip to the zoo. Ronald takes the disappointment much harder than other pupils would, as he has never been to the zoo and was very excited about the field trip.

Ronald has appealed to you, but his disciplinary record at the school makes reaching a decision more difficult for you. He has a history of discipline problems, ranging from not completing work to violent outbursts against staff members. He is in counseling with the school psychologist, who has on several occasions upheld his appeals against caning sentences. (Unknown to you, the psychologist has reached the conclusion that Ronald is manipulating the system and determined not to support any further appeals against canings.) Though you and the staff have tried many other approaches, Ronald has not responded well to any of them. Right now, you feel that Ronald expects you to let him off the hook completely. You can sense the impending explosion if you uphold the form master’s punishment or impose an alternative.

How will you deal with this difficult situation?

Can you dig it?

John Boy

He can have a choice, accept the punishment or Take a caning plain and simple.

David M. Katz

As an alternative to missing the zoo trip, he can spend an hour after school in detention for a week cleaning desks.

I don't think caning will work for him and it would be harsh to have him miss the zoo. Hopefully cleaning the desks will give him a bit of ownership for them.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


I am going to speak to the psychologist first. If he shares his belief about manipulation with me, I will then meet with Ronald alone.

I am going to tell him that his vandalism cannot be allowed to go unpunished. That wouldn't be fair to his classmates, and wouldn't really be fair to him either.

That leaves "alternative punishments". He can miss the zoo, or he can have a week's worth of nasty chores (emptying rubbish, cleaning toilets, etc). Or, his choice, he can take the caning his classmates would have gotten and it will all be over. (If the psychologist believes caning would be "detrimental", then his choices will be confined to missing the field trip, or the aforementioned chores. If he shares his belief that Ronald is manipulating the system, a caning would probably be just the sort of sharp shock he needs).


Though visiting the zoo is probably more fun then else it is meant to be educational. I can't see any use of punishment by denying education. So this punishment will not stand and I will talk to the teacher about that.

Nevertheless he needs to be punished. Cane or chores.


I'm with Kier.

A conversation with the psychologist at which hopefully her/his thoughts about Ronald will be revealed. That should thn leadto merevealing to onald that he is going to have his first ever experience of the cane.


Clearly the offence requires punishment to to be the equivalent severity of a caning. I think I will call in the psychologist anyway as I know he has been giving Ronald some thought. I also wonder if his mother has been consulted about her view on corporal punishment for Ronald. I don't think an hours detention quite matches the crime. For me t is either missing the zoo or a caning. Either way I need a definitive view on whether we should be using corporal punishment on Ronald so we don't have this rigmarole every time he gets in trouble. I also want formal counselling for the young man


Under the circumstances, I'd be willing to change the punishment, but he will have to be punished.

I'll talk with him, and find out why he objects: Does he think he did nothing wrong? That he doesn't deserve any punishments? Or is it the choice of punishment he is objecting to?

I'll try to make him understand why what he did is wrong and why he deserves a punishment, and I'll offer him several choices.

Emlyn Morgan

I'm going to whack him.


First of all, vandalism seems like something that should have been dealt with above the classroom level, and so does banning a student from a trip. However, I'm going to assume that he was within his rights.

I think I'm goign to summon the councilor who's been working with Ronald, then Ronald and I will sit down and talk while we wait for him. I'm going to explain to the boy that this is a case where he had to know what he was doing wasn't a good idea, so I can't see letting him off without some type of consequence. I'll quickly let him know that I am open to discussing what the consequence will be, however.

Once the therapist joins us, I'm going to ask the two of them to suggest ideas that would be fair for the matter at hand. I'm also going to let them both know that I'm not willing to tolerate some of Ronald's behavior, and that, while I really value him as a student, he's going to have to start working with us if he wants to stay here.

If corporal punishment comes up, I'll gladly implement it, but if Ronald even tries to work with me, he will be going on the zoo trip.


I find myself rather torn on this one. I think that having him miss the zoo trip to be OTT, yet I feel him just cleaning desks to be not 'enough'.

I really think it's time to introduce him to the cane. If psych green lights me I'm giving him 4 of the best and moving on.


Editor Extraordinaire
I think the form master erred in judgement in assigning the original punishment, so I will uphold Ronald's appeal. Nevertheless, he is deserving of punishment. Three or four strokes of the cane seems appropriate in the circs., and that is what I will announce, undoubtedly expecting Ronald to appeal. I will have other punishments thought out in case the psychologist upholds an appeal against caning, as I won't know he now views Ronald's appeals as manipulation. The alternative punishments will be equivalent to a caning if Ronald's appeal is upheld.

Ronald will be in for an unpleasant surprise when the psychologist does not uphold his appeal. I will allow the psychologist to have time to talk with Ronald and try to bring him to acceptance. I will also ask that the psychologist remain with him during the caning. And while I will not have Ronald physically compelled to submit to a caning, I will not be moved by histrionics. He will either have to cooperate or face a serious alternative, which will be more than equivalent -- probably a suspension. I think that is fair when there is no valid reason for him not to undergo corporal punishment.

I expect we will all be in for a difficult few minutes, and then Ronald will be relieved his punishment is over and happy to know he is going to the zoo.



I will offer him some alternative punishments, which will include a caning. Twisted Evil

Stone Man

A caning plus working on desk repairs or the zoo trip will be the boy's choices.

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