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School corporal punishment in China

Video clips

Chinese boys caned

With comments by C. Farrell

Eleven video clips showing Chinese school students being caned in the classroom.

Clip 1 of 11 -- Mass punishment of boys

Date: 2007
Duration: 2 minutes

Corporal punishment in mainland China was theoretically abolished in 1949 after the communist revolution. It has long been known that, despite this, school students are physically punished on a casual or irregular basis. Remarkably, however, these clips shows that in some Chinese schools there is "proper" CP, i.e. of a more structured and formal sort, almost in the tradition of Europe or the English-speaking world, at any rate for teenage boys.

  In this video, five male students get four strokes of the cane each in the classroom of a mixed-sex secondary school.

  Allegedly, the boys were caught playing basketball when they were supposed to be in class. This might explain why two of the boys are shirtless, since boys sometimes take their tops off when playing impromptu games in warm weather.

  The punishment is delivered to the seat of each boy's trousers as he adopts a "push-up" posture, as more often seen in South Korea.

  This does not appear to be a terribly serious punishment. There is some giggling going on in the class, the schoolmaster is smiling at one point, and the strokes are not especially hard. Nevertheless, the students are seen to be clutching their bottoms afterwards.

  The schoolmaster lifts up the shirt-tails of the boys who are wearing shirts in order to reduce the number of layers of clothing over the target area.

  The stick is more rigid and brittle than a British or Singaporean rattan cane. Indeed, if you look carefully you can see that part of it breaks off and falls to the floor during the caning of the third boy, but the teacher carries on regardless.

  Unfortunately, somebody has dubbed a silly music track on to this clip; there is nothing I can do about that.


Clip 2 of 11 -- Army cadet school

Date: 2007
Duration: 5 seconds

In this very brief clip, the boys are in army uniform, so perhaps they are part of the school cadet force, or maybe it is a military school. One student is seen bending over for a formal, vigorous stroke of the cane across his buttocks, possibly the last stroke of several.


Clip 3 of 11 -- Lady teacher canes senior boy

Date: 2008
Duration: 35 seconds

This clip shows a much more jocular scene, although the young teacher may not have meant it to be. She is doing her best to punish the boy but he makes a joke out of the whole thing and the class laughs along. All told he gets six rather feeble whacks on his backside with a thick stick or metre rule. She needs to work on her caning technique.


Clip 4 of 11 -- Mass bare-bottom paddling

Date: 2009
Duration: 3 minutes

This curious clip is said to have been taken at a technical school in Beijing. About 20 teenage boys come forward in turn, bend over and lower their blue uniform trousers just enough to expose the target area, and receive two seemingly feeble taps with a small ruler on the bare backside. Perhaps this is more of an initiation ceremony than a punishment: certainly the whacks seem much too light to be painful, and the atmosphere is jocular. The teacher, if he is a teacher, is laughing and joking, and the class of boys keep laughing. One or two recipients can be seen to be clutching their buttocks after being paddled, though maybe only as a joke.

  In the West (when school CP was still allowed) and for that matter in Singapore and Malaysia now, bare-bottom punishment would clearly in modern times be regarded as wholly unacceptable in any school setting, but we must remember that different places have very different cultural assumptions. It might be for instance (I am only speculating here) that dropping your pants is less embarrassing in conformist China than the loss of face you would risk by refusing to do so, when all of your peers are going along with it. Context is all, and we can only guess at the wider context of this clip.


Clip 5 of 11 -- Boys punished by female teacher

Date: 2010
Duration: 1 minute 10 seconds

School students are summoned to the front of the class to be punished by a lady teacher. She uses a short stick or ruler with which she repeatedly whacks the bending boys' bottoms -- to no great effect, it would appear: the implement clearly is not up to the task. At one point we have to wait for an announcement on the school's public address system to finish before the punishments continue. This looks like "going through the motions".


Clip 6 of 11 -- Rapid-fire paddling

Date: 2011
Duration: 2½ minutes

Four secondary boys take turns to kneel on a bench and bend forward for a paddling in front of the class. The atmosphere is light-hearted. The teacher has a curious rapid-fire technique. In each case he lifts up the back of the boy's T-shirt if necessary, and gives about a dozen very quick whacks across the seat of the pants. The third boy betrays pain on his face both during his spanking and as he walks back to his seat.


Clip 7 of 11 -- Punishment at front of class

Date: 2012
Duration: 30 seconds

In this clip, four secondary boys have been summoned to the front of the class for punishment by their shouty male teacher. This time the atmosphere is deadly serious. Each student gets one hard whack; the picture quality is not good and the view is rather distant, so it is not possible to say exactly what is the implement being used, but it sounds rather like a hefty paddle. The clip comes to end just as the fourth boy is being disciplined.


Clip 8 of 11 -- Girls and boys rulered on hands in class

Date: 2010
Duration: 2 minutes

Just to show that not all CP in China is administered to the posterior (though most of it seems to be), here is a discontinuous film of a young lady teacher in a secondary classroom rulering several boys, and a couple of girls, on the palms of the hands, a practice to be deplored because it is dangerous to the fingers. She is reading from a list and one gets the impression that this punishment is for unsatisfactory test scores rather than bad behaviour. The atmosphere is serious but routine and matter-of-fact. The other students are taking no notice at all.


Clip 9 of 11 -- Boys whipped with a broomstick

Date: 2014
Duration: 1 minute

Video taken in a classroom at Qingdao Technical School. This video went viral on the Chinese equivalent of YouTube, and apparently featured in several TV news reports. Seven boys line up to be whacked hard on the seat with a broom in front of class. Two get six strokes, the rest three. The punishment may not be as severe as it looks because the teacher is holding the stick by the brush. At all events the students do not visibly react.


Clip 10 of 11 -- Mass caning of senior students

Date: 2010
Duration: 1 minute

In this slightly discontinuous film, 12 students aged perhaps 16 come forward in turn to face the blackboard and receive a swift caning across the seat of their jeans in a mostly serious atmosphere. It is a mixed-sex class, but only boys are being dealt with on this occasion. The strokes are moderately hard, but few in number (1 to 3 each) and are received calmly and matter-of-factly: no clutching or rubbing of backsides is observed.

  The soundtrack is a bit muffled, but the noise of the whacks is clear. The picture quality is mediocre and the action is partly obscured at times. A couple of the recipients put their hands up to the blackboard when assuming the position, but clearly are not required to do so. In one or two cases the teacher lifts up the tail of a boy's jacket to gain better access to the target area. The punishment session is still continuing briskly, with further miscreants coming forward, as the clip ends.


Clip 11 of 11 -- Bending over the chair for a paddling

Date: 2011
Duration: 1 minute

In (I think) the office at a technical high school in Yantai, we see five teenage boys take turns to bend over a chair for two smacks on the bottom with a small paddle. The teacher lifts up the tail of the recipient's T-shirt where necessary. The last boy to be dealt with puts his feet apart and sticks his backside out, apparently without being told to do so. There is a neutral or perhaps mildly light-hearted atmosphere. Although this is clearly a token punishment, the second, third and fourth students put their hands to their buttocks immediately afterwards. To the right of the picture, a female staff member works away at her computer, completely ignoring the discipline session going on behind her -- which suggests the procedure is routine. The picture quality is not brilliant: the film is underexposed and the camerawork is jerky.


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Page updated October 2016