To Catholics: corporal punishment in Cathlolic school

Of those of you who attended Catholic schools, were you rapped on the knuckles with rulers and other such things by the nuns for various infractions?

I mentioned knuckle-rapping in a conversation, and one father who had kids in Catholic school got real furious. He said that that was just an “urban legend”. I didn’t argue with him, but it seems like every recollection of Catholic school I’ve heard before mentioned something about the ruler raps.

My father was rapped on the knuckles for being left-handed. They forced him to become right-handed (something to do with the devil probably).

I prefer rogues to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest.
Alexandre Dumas the Younger (1824-1895)

Well, I went through 16 years of Catholic schools and the only rapping going on was by Public Enemy.

Ok, bad joke.

Nah, there was no corporal punishment in my school. Teachers would talk about how there used to be ruler slapping in schools when they were a kid, but I figured that was just a general thing, from public to Catholic. Hey, I can just give you my experience, there was no ruler rapping, or making kids use their right hand if they were left handed. But, I started first grade in 1980, so maybe it had alll happened before I got there.


I went to Catholic school from 1-6th grade and I DID get my knuckles rapped (sp) with a ruler. The nuns wanted you to write with your hand positioned in a very specific manner and if you didn’t (couldn’t, really) comply, then you got your hand smacked. In one case, my 5th grade teacher, Sr Theresa Larine (sp, however we called her Sr Theresa Latrine anyway) made us write with a nickel on the back of our hand, very uncomfortable position. If the nickel fell off, we would get smacked. I really hated that nun. The funny thing is she got run over by the town bully (really big kid) on his bike one day in the school parking lot, hee hee.

Catholic or not, I think that action by a teacher is inexcusable. Including for left-handers. If I had a kid who got that treatment in school, the next person that teacher would hear from would be my * lawyer!! *

BTW, I forgot to mention that I was in Catholic school from about 76 to 82, so it wasn’t all THAT long ago.

I went to a weekly class in Catholic school for 8 years and I never got hit by anything as punishment. Although I always hear my teachers say that they use to get hit a lot by their teachers when they were in Catholic school.


Happened to me - early 60’s - in Ireland at the time, so it might not have been true here. I don’t recall it when we came back to the states.

The reason gentlemen prefer blondes is that there are not enough redheads to go around.

Got my hand smacked by Sr. Marie Elizabeth the Samurai Penguin in 6th grade for sneaking a hand up Paula Curtis’ dress. I did a lot of Hail Mary penance time for that, along with the ruler slap. Had a grudging admiration for Sr. Marie, she could wield that ruler like a samurai’s * katana *. She must’ve served with the great warrior Musashi in a previous existence.

“…send lawyers, guns, and money…”

 Warren Zevon

Ohhhh yes. I was left handed. My penmanship today is illegible. Once, I was taken into the ball room (nothing Freudian here) and had my pants taken down and was spanked. I think the nun really got off on it.

I was the only child in the history of the school to be kicked out of the 4th grade.

After a couple of glorius years in the public schools I had to return to ‘the system’. High School was worse in that the priests and lay teachers could be quite ferocious. After witnessing a couple incidents (beatings, slaps in the faces) I was scared smart.

Most of my teachers (1956-1964) were not really into corporal punishment. If you had been very bad (stealing, lying, fighting and not breaking it up on command) you might get a couple of swats on the butt with some sort of paddle. There were a couple of teachers who were borderline psycho, however, and it sometimes took the administration more than one year to figure it out and remove them. Even they were more into humiliation than physical pain. I have run into enough kids who were rapped on the knuckles that I believe it happened. It was not, however, the rule that every nun addressed every infraction by busting knuckles. I never saw it done, although my sister reports having been rapped by one of the psychos two years after that nun had spent the year bruising my psyche.


I was in PUBLIC school and until like 1972 or so they would paddle you. Only back then if you went and told you parent they would paddle you again for making the teacher’s job hard and causing trouble.

By the way 1976 is 23 years. That’s a while by any means :slight_smile:

Hey Marxxx,

I was only in first grade in 76! Thanks for the ego boost though. I think I’ll go get my prunes and ben gay now…

While I was the model student at Our Lady of Perpetual Misery (sic) there were kids sent down to the principals office for a paddling. Knuckle wacking wasn’t as common when I came through the system, but my older siblings told me stories of rulers being busted over kids hands.

As for left handers, brother #4 is a leftie. He was punished for using his left hand ( being the sign of the devil) and forced to use his right for years. To this day no one can read his handwriting.

I do not fear guns, knives, fire or falling to my death, but nuns scare the crap outta me.

Paddling? They were still doing that until very recently. I remember a kid getting paddled in kindergarten, and I was there in '88-'89. But it didn’t really traumatize me. He was always stealing my sweaters, for some reason, so I figured he had it coming. But it did ruin the “Mr. M” letter-people song for me forever. But hey, I’m sort of digressing…

“Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” --1984

One of the more amusing titles for detention was given by the principal at my grade school. Instead of calling it detention, for some reason it was called Jug.

I am not Catholic, but I think somehwere my parents (we’re from Indiana) picked this joke up from a Catholic family.
Some kid who was a real hellion–he stole things, smoked, lied, picked fights, started fires–everything–put his parents at their wits’ end tryinbg to straighten him out. Finally a friend suggested sending him to a parochial school instead of public school that fall. The kid, of course, fought the idea fiercely, but the parents won out.
He went the first day, and when he came home his manner had already started to change. By the time school was about to close for the next summer vacation, he had made an earnest effort to patch things up with all the people he had wronged, and his manners became impeccable; and his schoolwork made him a straight-A student.
When he came home from school the last day, his parents met him to tell him how proud they were of him for how the parochial school had improved him. And they asked, “Son, something must really have made an impression on you that first day. Did they discipline you?”
He said, “No. but we went into the chapel that first day and I saw a statue of a man nailed onto a cross. I saw that and thought, ‘Is * that * how they punish you here??’”

I went to a Catholic high school, but it wasn’t like what I see depicted as “normal” Catholic schools. All but two teachers were laypeople. Corporal punishment was never used.

" ‘Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter.’ " -Kurt Vonnegut, * Breakfast of Champions *