Robert Barron column: Glad straps no longer used in schools

You would have to hold out your hands, palms up to expose the most sensitive parts

It’s rare that I get a chance to get into our local schools but, when I do, I can’t help but notice just how different they are than in my time.

One thing that really stands out for me is the relationships the students have with their teachers these days. There’s an informality to the give-and-take between teachers and students in modern educational practices that was utterly absent in my day.

In a lot of cases, the kids treat their teachers like their friends, and some even call teachers by their first names.

There was a much more formal relationship between teachers and students when I was being educated in Catholic all-boys schools in the 1960s and 1970s. Friendship was out of the question, and you certainly wouldn’t dare call one by their first names.

Basically, you pretty much lived in fear each school day of being a victim of corporal punishment, whether you were really guilty of something, or just tied in to a bad situation by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those were the fun days when straps were commonly used on kids.

For those who have never had the honour of seeing, or being struck by one, a strap was typically made of hard leather and was about one-half inch thick and one foot long.

You would have to hold out your hands, palms up to expose the most sensitive parts, and the teachers would then raise the strap above their heads and swing it down as hard as they could to connect with your fingers and palms.

It would hurt worse than anything, and you would get between five and 10 hits on each hand before it was over.

Even while enduring this agony, you wouldn’t dare let a tear seep out of your eyes because that would only add shame and ridicule to an already horrible situation.

Your hands would hurt so bad afterwards that you often couldn’t hold a pen to write for awhile, and that meant you could be setting yourself up for a second round of humiliation and pain.

And, at the time, you wouldn’t run home to tell your parents that you were being mercilessly struck by your teachers because you added the risk of getting in even more trouble with them.

Many parents felt that, because they were raised to respect the church, you were likely asking for it if some religious figure at your school felt the need to beat the devil out of you.

It was a trying time for many of us, and we couldn’t wait to get out the school door at 3 p.m. every day.

The only advantage I saw to nurturing this type of learning environment was that I always got good marks.

Heaven help you if you didn’t.

While there are some discipline issues in today’s school, I tend to think that educators made the right decision to step away from demeaning and actually physically hurting kids as punishment.

Most of the kids I meet these days actually like being in school and being educated, and they seem much more relaxed and adjusted than many of my classmates were at their age.

Any adult that raises his hand to hurt a child should be prosecuted.

I wish it was that way when I was a kid.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Alzheimer Society calls for helpline volunteers in Greater Victoria

Charity is in ‘urgent need’ as calls on the rise

Convicted drug trafficker asks Victoria courtroom for chance to ‘turn this around’

Horst Schirmer sentenced for convictions on five counts of possession related to trafficking

$11 million overdraw for McKenzie Interchange construction

The project has been delayed multiple times and is now estimating a budget of $96 million

French Open at Bear Mountain serves a winner

The US Open is scheduled for Sept. 3 to 8 on the hardcourts at Henderson Park in Oak Bay

Union Club of B.C. votes in its first female president

16-year member Grace Van den Brink previously served as vice president

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Most Read