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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
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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
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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.)
THE LAW AS TO THE POWER OF PARENTS OVER
SEC. 1. The school-master and the king.--In school, where the mind is first placed under care to be fitted for the grand purposes of life, the child should be taught to consider his instructor, in many respects, superior to the parent in point of authority. The infant mind early apprehends and distinguishes with a surprising sagacity, and is always more influenced by example than precept. When a parent, therefore, enters the school, and by respectful deportment acknowledges the teacher's authority, the pupil's obedience and love for the master are strengthened; and the principle of subordination is naturally ingrafted in the child, and in the most agreeable and effectual manner possible; that is, by the influence of example. It is by this happy conspiracy between the teacher and parent that a new power—a genial influence over the infant mind-is acquired, which is of infinite importance to the welfare and happiness of society. To aim a blow at this power would be to strike at the very basis of magisterial authority. It was to support this important element of good government that the learned and judicious school-master said to Charles II. in the plenitude of his power: “Sire, pull off thy hat in my school; for if my scholars discover that the king is above me in authority here, they will soon cease to respect me.” (Morris's Case, i City Hall Rec. 55.)
SEC. 2. Every man's house is his castle. This old maxim of English law (5 Rep. 92) is as applicable to the school-master as to any other person who is in the lawful possession of a house. It is true that the school officers, as such, have certain rights in the school-house; but the law will not allow even them to interfere with the teacher while he keeps strictly within the line of his duty. Having been legally put in possession, he can hold it for the purposes and the time agreed upon; and no parent, not even the governor of the State, nor the President of the United States, has any right to enter it and disturb him in the lawful performance of his duties. If persons do so enter, he should order them out; and if they do not go, on being requested to do so, he may use such force as is necessary to eject them. And if he finds that he is unable to put them out himself, he may call on others to assist him; and if no more force than is actually necessary to remove the intruders is employed, the law will justify the teacher's act and the acts of those who assisted him. (Stevens v. Fassett, 27 Maine, 266; 1 City Hall Rec. 55; 2 Met. 23; 6 Barb. 608; 8 T. R. 299; 2 Ro. Abr. 548; 2 Selk. 641; 1 C. & P. 6; 8 T. R. 78; Wharton's Am. Crim. Law, 1256.)