The trauma of discipline

What constitutes a reasonable chastisement?

Featured in

  • Published 20190806
  • ISBN: 9781925773798
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THE TILES IN the kitchen were white, with a grey diamond pattern. The grout was a light greying brown – I’m sure it had been white at some point, but we didn’t mop the tiles as much as we should have. They were cold on my feet, especially in winter, especially when I’d forgotten where I’d left my indoor slippers. I spent a lot of time looking at those tiles, my eyes downcast. I was afraid to meet my parents’ eyes, especially when they were angry. When I became a teenager, this anger would manifest in the form of prolonged yelling. But when I was a child, my punishment, more often than not, was a specific number of strikes of the cane.

There were other punishments, too. They included ‘罰跪’ – kneeling on the tiles, facing the wall, for a specific period of time – and I was once locked out of the house and made to sit outside while the rest of my family ate their dinner. But the canes were my parents’ most commonly employed tactic against my sister and me – probably because, in their eyes, they were the most effective.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

Yen-Rong Wong

Yen-Rong Wong is a writer of non-fiction and the founding editor of Pencilled In, a magazine devoted to publishing and championing the work of...

More from this edition


PoetryWilliam Spalyng, who, for selling putrid beef…was put upon the pillory, and the carcasses were burnt beneath. Arthur Griffiths, The Chronicles of Newgate   Justin R Haymaker,...


FictionYOUR LAWYER – A woman, for Chrissakes, young and Australian – is making you do some last-minute prep-prep-prepping. That’s really what she calls it: ‘prep-prep-prepping’. But...

Mountain ashed

EssayI’M STANDING IN the shifting forest in the muted light of dusk. Above me, a tall tree with a vast tapering trunk stretches its...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.