Library Collections: Document: Full Text


Creator: E.R. Johnstone (author)
Date: December 1902
Publication: Journal of Psycho-Asthenics
Source: Available at selected libraries

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"My little son who looks from thoughtful eves,
And moves and speaks in serious, grown up wise
Having my law the seventh time disobeyed,
I struck him and dismissed
With harsh words and unkissed;
(His mother, who was patient, being dead. --)
Then fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep
I visited his bed
And found his lashes yet
With his late sobbing, wet.
Then I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own,
For on a table, drawn
Beside his bed, he had placed within his reach
A box of counters and a red-veined Stone,
A piece of glass abraided by the beach
And six or seven shells,
A bottle of blue bells
And four French coins, ranged there with careful art
To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I prayed
To God, I wept, and said,
Ah, when we lie at last with trance'd breath,
Not vexing thee in death
And Thou rememberest
The toys
That made our joys,'
Then, fatherly not less than I
Who am moulded out of clay,
Thou'lt leave Thy wrath and say,
'I will be sorry for their childishness.'"




Dr. Rogers: I think this is a valuable paper and the spirit is excellent. It is always a delicate matter to discuss this subject of corporal punishment, we are so liable to be misunderstood. That corporal punishment is sometimes necessary is a point upon which we will all agree, yet, as a general statement, I do not believe in corporal punishment. I have found cases in my experience where I believed it was absolutely necessary. I do not allow any person to strike a child. If I know that it is done I discharge the employe unless it is done in self-defense. I do not recall more than two cases of the latter kind, both being cases of attack upon the attendant by boys with articles of furniture. I believe there should be rigid rules for the protection of the management and they should be understood. The first is that if there is to be any punishment it should he given by the superintendent and by no one else. I carry that out rigidly. I know there has been much trouble in some institutions that has resulted from delegating that power to others. Another point is that if a case is reported where severe discipline is needed it is important that it shall not be administered at once. It can always be postponed twenty-four hours. It is an interesting fact that we may view the situation very differently after a few hours reflection. In that time the child may be honestly repentant and need no punishment. I think the public should understand these rules. The only real trouble I ever had over severe discipline was when I whipped a boy and neglected to inform his parents. The boy informed the parents himself. I believe I did the proper thing for the boy, but I should have told them. He was a great strong boy physically, and had simply domineered over his associates -- farm boys -- and his attendants, who were forbidden by me to punish him, until the limit of forbearance was reached. His mother insisted upon taking him home. I said that I would like to have the boy taken before the board of trustees and let them see what had been done and hear the reason and then if she cared to take him home it was all right. This was done and the boy went home. A week later I had a letter in which she said she would like to return him under certain conditions. I replied that he could not be returned under any conditions except to be treated as I thought best. Within a month she sent him back under my conditions and he has been a splendid boy ever since. That is a typical case where I believe punishment was required. He came from a home where there was no control. In fact, I understand, he pounded his mother during the time she had him home after my punishment and I presume this treatment was a powerful argument with her in my favor. It is an extremely rare case where corporal punishment is required. Mr. Johnstone expresses the proper spirit in relation to our children.


Mr. Johnstone: The general public would not approve of whipping a feeble-minded child.


Dr. Wilmarth: We should never whip a boy unless we are sure it will be for the child's good. It is not a question of defying public opinion. I do not think we should ever whip a child.


Question: Do you think you should always notify the parents in advance?


Dr. Rogers: If I could not do it before I would do it at once. I should notify any parent who took any interest in his child. I believe frankness is due to the public and to the friends. It may make resentment for a while, but the community will see the justice of it and that establishes confidence in the institution.


Mr. Johnson: I think as a matter of policy it is a great mistake for a superintendent to do it himself.


Dr. Rogers: I believe it is a responsibility the superintendent should take. I believe no one else should do it. It is the most disagreeable thing and the very fact that he takes the responsibility will make it a thing of seldom occurrence. It is the most disagreeable thing I ever did in my life.


Mr. Johnson: I think he should delegate it.

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