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School corporal punishment in Kenya: Video clips

'Touch-toes' schoolboy caning in Kenya

With comments by C. Farrell

Kenya - School punishments: Five clips.


Duration: 35 seconds
Date: 2007

This clip is slightly confusing, but clearly there are a lot of students who have been made to lie on the ground. Towards the end of the clip there is a brief long shot of some of the students being whipped or caned in turn in a rough-and-ready manner.

  The voice-over commentary is presumably by one of the students. The underlying story seems to be that an offence has been committed but the teachers can't find out who did it, so they are punishing everybody. Plainly this is unreasonable and contrary to natural justice; that would be the case irrespective of the kind of punishment used, so the argument is not about corporal punishment per se.

  School corporal punishment in Kenya was notionally outlawed by the Children Act 2001, so this clip -- and the others on this page -- tends to confirm that, as widely reported, schools have been ignoring the ban and continuing to cane students.

  Personally I would add that, if schools are going to use CP, this kind of indiscriminate, slapdash beating is not a proper or sensible way to do it.



Duration: 2 minutes
Date: 2015

In this clip, a row of 10 teenage boys lying face down on the ground are disciplined across the seat of their tracksuits with a rough, tatty stick. A decent rattan cane would have been a good deal more effective and probably more accurate; by halfway through, the stick is beginning to disintegrate. Still, this is a bit more like proper corporal punishment than what can be seen in Clip 1 above. The strokes, varying between four and six each, seem to be applied with some vigour. The students, apart from the last one, readily accept their punishment and then get up and walk away without apparent fuss.



Duration: 1 minute 40 seconds
Date: 2014

This illustrates a more formal kind of posterial schoolboy caning in the British tradition. Four senior secondary youths emerge in turn on to a verandah to be disciplined semi-publicly, with other students hanging around watching and chatting, or passing by with a nonchalance that perhaps suggests that this scene is not especially unusual.

  One student can be glimpsed behind a pillar right in front of the teacher when the clip starts, and later wanders away showing no interest in the unfolding drama. Did he just happen to be there, or was he perhaps caned before the filming started?

  The master, who is holding in his left hand what is presumably a list of offenders and their crimes, taps each student's upper back with the cane to get him to touch his toes. He can be heard twice asking the second young man to "bend down". This student seems more reluctant than the others to submit calmly. The third and fourth boys more readily assume the correct position -- perhaps they have experience of it -- and hold it well.

  Each student receives either two or four hard strokes. We hear, particularly in the case of the first two offenders, the distinctive, resounding "thwack" of flexible cane applied vigorously to taut trousers seat, once such a familiar sound to many English schoolboys. It is evident that these miscreants have been told beforehand how many strokes they are going to get, as is only right and proper. The first and second boys clutch their buttocks in pain between strokes and afterwards, before going on their way.


blob RELATED: For another good example of a serious, formal, English-style caning of a senior schoolboy with proper bending over, see this 2012 "six of the best" video from a private school in South Africa. The full "bending tight" stance, but for the paddle rather than the cane, is also seen being enforced in this 2010 clip showing a mass classroom punishment of college students in Pakistan, in this brief video from Taiwan and in this 1974 film from a boys' boarding school in Canada (in three versions). In the Canadian case, we can actually hear the teacher uttering the time-honoured and evocative phrase "Bend over!".


Duration: 1 minute
Date: 2012

This one-minute film consists of three brief extracts from a British documentary about a village school in rural Kenya. Oddly, the headmaster gets other students to administer the canings, possibly because he supposes -- surely wrongly, from a strictly legal point of view -- that this exonerates him from liability for transgressing the theoretical ban on school CP.

  The punishments are applied to the seat, with the recipient lying on the ground in typical African fashion. They seem fairly ineffective, perhaps because the implement used is a visibly disintegrating stick rather than a proper rattan.

  Some viewers may think that these students, the second one especially, are too young for this kind of treatment, even if it is not as severe as it looks.



Duration: 45 seconds
Date: 2017

The next scene appears to be set in a somewhat gloomy school office or staffroom, where a seated teacher is dishing out firm posterial punishment to pupils of both sexes who come forward in turn and adopt a push-up position in front of him. One gets the impression that this is probably a routine procedure. The surroundings look pretty shabby. The students, of high-school age, are in uniform.

  As the clip begins, a student (hard to see whether male or female) is just standing up after undergoing punishment. His or her place is then taken by a boy, who receives ten brisk strokes of the cane before standing up, collecting up his books and nonchalantly exiting the room. The teacher shouts "Next!" (twice) and a girl student appears and assumes the same push-up stance. We see her first two strokes administered, during which she keeps putting her hands in the way, before the film ends.


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