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BOTD 05-11-2017 Blast from the Past -- 1971-- Cunningham's Conscience

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Blast from the Past -- 1971 -- Cunningham's Conscience
A Kat Production

You are the headmaster of a grammar school. Though you have not abandoned the cane and slipper, your policies have resulted in its being used far less often. 'Six of the best' is a rare sanction, which you reserve for serious misconduct. You have never given a pupil more than six strokes, although you are within your rights to administer up to twelve strokes. Being reluctant to cane doesn't stop you from caning hard.

Today Andrew Cunningham, age 14, is in your office. This is his first visit, as he is normally a well-behaved, conscientious boy. You've just given him three strokes for being out of bounds -- actually leaving the school. This infraction is an automatic caning, due to complaints from shopkeepers in the past about pupil misconduct.

Cunningham - 14
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Cunningham takes his three strokes fairly well, though he is slow to stand up. To lighten the mood, you ask, "Is there anything else on your conscience you'd like to deal with while you are in a unique position to do so?"

To your surprise, he tells you yes. He confesses to bullying another pupil, whose parents withdrew him from school without explanation. The bullying went on for a while with no one on staff being aware of it.

The bullying began after the other boy confessed he 'had feelings for' Cunningham.

What comes now?

Can you dig it?


The way I see it, bullying is never an acceptable mode of behaving with any school issue. If this bullying began per terms of the spoiler alert, the question is whether Andrew reported this knowledge to anyone at the school or to his parents, in an effort to determine how best to address that knowledge. If the answer to that is a "no" then frankly, he has earned himself "six of the best." It may be some solace to Andrew that had such knowledge come out later on in time, he would have received "six of the best" then, so, at some point, this was sure to have come about. At least now, he effectively dismissed two misbehaviors with this one session of "six of the best." However, I, as headmaster, would also send home a note to Andrew's parents that must be signed and returned to me, so that they are fully informed about the bullying that took place. Andrew may then try the spoiler with his parents, and see if they will accept how Andrew dealt with that knowledge.

David M. Katz

I basically agree with 18 Smacked. If I am reading his solution then he is going to give Andrew 3 more to make it 6 of the best. I would probably agree with this except I would suspend the additional three based on his honest confession. IF there is bullying again then he will get the six plus the suspended three.

As far as the parent involvement, this is spot on and I would follow the same process.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


As I don't normally administer more than six strokes at a time, I am going to tell Andrew to return tomorrow when he will get six for the bullying. Thinking of what is to come for 24 hours will add to the severity of the punishment imo.


It's water under the bridge.  

The other boys parents withdrew their son without explanation or complaint. IF it was a consequence of the bullying they were most likely aware of their sons proclivities and didn't want him to be outed.  

Andrew deserves some credit; he didn't get caught, he confessed.  There was (in his view) no way his bullying would ever come to light, and it seems that he felt so bad about himself that he thinks he needs some punishment to bring closure.

I'll sit down with him (in counselling mode) and attempt to draw out the reasons.  If I can't get down to bedrock I'll turn focus to his feelings of guilt and if he agrees he needs to be punished he can finish up bending over for another three.

The incident will stay in the room.


Considering the time this is set, I'm not sure I would see any bullying as excuse for the boy to withdraw - he was obviously soft.

On the other hand, having been a target of bullying, and having bullied myself a time or two, I want to talk to Cunningham - find out not just what he did, but why he did it, and why he feels guilty about it now.  This might be before the 'no means no' era, but I would like to help him figure out why he did it and kept doing it that long and severely.  My feeling is that, no matter why he did it before, he now realizes how serious this can become and that he'll avoid it.  If the other boy is reachable, I'll also suggest a letter of apology might be appropriate.  I can't really see this as being a punishable offense - not this late after it happened, and not in those days.

Having gone back and read the Spoiler Warning, I feel I should say I don't think I'd change my answer. At that time, the other boys behavior was not only widely considered sinful, but was also illegal (at least around here). Being me, I think I'd simply council Cunningham in the correct way to deal with such problems if they occur in the future.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


Yes, I also feel I can work with this. He feels guilty and has confessed, so that means most of the work is done. I want to sit and talk with him about it, yo make sure he understands how harmful bullying can be, and that he will not repeat it. Then I'll add we punishment, maybe six of the best the following day or just three more now.

If he tells me about his reason I'll try to teach him some more constructive way if dealing with that situation.


He gets 4 more strokes on the spot, symbolic as I don't normally go beyond 6. A letter goes home to the parents. A further 3 strokes are suspended ensuring that the next time Cunningham finds himself in my office for corporal punishment a slippering will turn into a caning and 3 with the cane will become 6. Bullying is a very serious matter. I hope it will be the last time he does that or I will most certainly go beyond 6.

Is he telling me the reason for this. If so hes still getting the extras but I will not impose my other addition.

Last edited by squarecutter on Thu May 11, 2017 8:22 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : after the spoiler)

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