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Sec. 9. The following positions, as general rules, in reference to the control which a teacher may legally exercise over his pupils in respect to time and place, are, we believe, fully sustained in law :
1. In the school-room the teacher has the exclusive control and supervision of his pupils, subject only to such regulations and directions as may be prescribed or given by the school committee.
2. The conduct of the pupils on any part of the premises connected with the school-house, or in the immediate vicinity of the same, (the pupils being thus virtually under the care and oversight of the teacher,) whether within the regular school hours or before or after them, is properly cognizable by the teacher. And any disturbances made by them, or offenses committed by them, within this range, injuriously affecting in any way the interests of the school, may clearly be the subject of reproof and correction by the teacher.
3. In regard to what transpires by the way in going to or returning from school, the authority of the teacher may be regarded as concurrent with that of the parent. So far as offenses are concerned for which the pupils committing them would be amenable to the laws, such as larcenies, trespasses, etc., which come more particularly within the category of crimes against the State, it is the wisest course generally for the teacher (whatever may be his legal power) to let the offenders pass into the hands of judicial or parental authority for discipline and punishment. And it is never worth while
for teachers to exercise any doubtful authority, as they may thereby involve themselves in controversies with parents and others, and expose themselves to the liability of being harassed by a prosecution at law.
But'as to any misdemeanors of which the pupils are guilty in passing between the school-house and their homes, which directly and injuriously affect the good order and government of the school, and the right training of the scholars, such as truancy, willful tardiness, quarreling with other children, the use of indecent and profane language, etc., there can be no doubt that these come within the jurisdiction of the teacher, and are properly matters for discipline in the school.
4. Teachers may, at their discretion, detain scholars a reasonable time after the regular school hours, for the purposes connected with the discipline, order, or instruction of the school. This practice has been sanctioned by general and immemorial usage among our schools, and by the authority and consent of school committees, expressed or implied, and has been found exceedingly useful in its influence and results. (Hooker.)
THE INSTRUMENT TO BE USED IN PUNISHING.
SEC. 1. Whether the instrument used by the teacher, for the punishment of a pupil, was a proper one, is for the jury to decide, in consideration of all the circumstances of the case. Evidence that the same kind of instrument was used in other schools in the vicinity will rebut the charge of malice, by showing that the teacher did not resort to an unusual instrument. (Lander v. Seaver, 32 Vermont R. 125.)
SEC. 2. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts are of the opinion that a ferule is a proper instrument of punishment. In the case in which this decision was rendered, there was evidence that the pupil disobeyed a proper rule of school, which had been published by the defendant to the school in her presence. The defendant introduced evidence to show that the pupil was obstinate, told falsehoods, and was insolent before and during the time of punishment; and alleged that it was for all these faults that he inflicted the punishment. There was also evidence tending to show that the punishment was not very severe till after the pupil had
INSTRUMENT TO BE USED IN PUNISHING.
replied to him with insolent words and manner; and it was proved that the defendant ceased punishing when the pupil acknowledged her fault, asked forgiveness, and promised to behave better. The defendant asked the judge to instruct the jury “that a school-teacher is amenable to the laws, in a criminal prosecution for punishing a scholar, only when he acts malo animo, from vindictive feelings, or under the violent impulses of passion or malevolence; that he is not liable for errors of opinion or mistakes of judgment merely, provided he is governed by an honest purpose of heart to promote, by the discipline employed, the highest welfare of the school, and the best interests of the scholar; that he is liable in a criminal prosecution for punishing a scholar only when the amount of punishment inflicted is more than adequate to subdue the scholar and secure obedience to the rules of the school.” The judge did not instruct the jury as requested, but instructed them “that a teacher had a right to inflict corporal punishment upon a scholar; that the case proved was one in which such punishment might properly be inflicted; that the instrument used (a ferule) was a proper one ; that, in inflicting corporal punishment, a teacher must exercise reasonable judgment and discretion, and must be governed, as to the mode and severity of the punishment, by the nature of the offense, and by the age, size, and apparent powers of endurance of the pupil; that the only question in this case was whether the punishment was excessive and improper; that, if they
118 INSTRUMENT TO BE USED IN PUNISHING.
should find the punishment to have been reasonable and proper, the defendant could not be deemed guilty of an assault and battery; but if, upon all the evidence in the case, they should find the punishment to have been improper and excessive, the defendant should be found guilty.” The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and exceptions having been taken by the defendant to the foregoing charge of the judge, the case was afterward argued before the appellate court, where the charge of the judge was declared to be correct. (Commonwealth v. Randall, 4 Gray, 37.)
SEC. 4. A school-master is liable criminally, if, in inflicting punishment upon his pupil, he goes beyond the limit of reasonable castigation, and, either in the mode or degree of correction, is guilty of any unreasonable or disproportionate violence or force; and whether the punishment was excessive under the circumstances of any case, is a question for the jury. (Commonwealth v. Randall, 4 Gray, 36; 3 Greenl. on Ev. sec. 63.)
Sec. 5. Teachers should ever avoid those low, degrading, and improper forms of punishment, such as tying up scholars' hands and feet, compelling them to hold a weight in their hands with their arms extended, pinching, pulling, and wringing their ears, cheeks, and arms, and other similar modes, which are sometimes used, as the committee are decidedly of the opinion that a judicious teacher will find other methods of governing more consistent and more effectual. (Reg. for the Town of Smithfield, R. I. No. 8.)