Whipping, beating and the wholesale corporal punishment of children did not begin, in modern human culture, with negro slavery. All cultures, and all races, and all religions, in their time and evolution, had various forms of severe punishment meted out on children. And still do.

It was the biblical ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ approach to development, exercised in its most brutal forms.

What negro slavery did help to accomplish however, in black communities across the world, was to create, a cultural institutionalisation of corporal punishment as a standard tool in child rearing.

For the Bahamas, this cultural institution of beating and whipping children became part and parcel of growing up.

In 1895, Dr. Charles L. Edwards, Professor of Biology in the University of Cincinnati made several observations of Bahamian culture. He included these observations in the introduction to his book on Bahama Songs and Stories.

Edwards observed the constant beating of children as part of Bahamian negro culture. He notes that they chastised children in 1895 with a club.

In 1894, a story appeared in the American newspapers about a coloured (mixed race) nine year-old Bahamian boy who had stowed away a steamer ship. His name was Raphael Murio. He was found in a doorway, on the streets of Brooklyn, New York smoking a cigarette. Raphael told police that he ran away from Nassau because he was being whipped for not picking enough cotton.

Illustrative photo. Not photo of actual boy.


Comes All the Way from the Bahamas to Escape Cruelties

A Brooklyn Society for the prevention of cruelty to children has in custody a 9-year-old coloured boy named Raphael Murio, who says his home is Nassau, in the Bahamas.

A policeman found the boy on Sunday evening smoking on the stoop of a house in Fulton Street. He took him to the station house, where the boy said he arrived in Brooklyn on the steamer Attilia from the Bahamas a few days ago.

Murio added that while the Attilio was lying at her wharf in Nassau he got on board and stowed himself away in a coal bunkers, where he remained until the steamer got to sea.

He told the police that he left home because he was continually whipped for not picking enough cotton. A charge of the vagrancy was preferred against him, and when he was a arraigned in the Gates Avenue police court. Justice Connolly remanded him into the custody of the society, which will have them sent back to his home.

(The Kansas Times Thursday 21 June 1894)

The building which housed the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Brooklyn, New York in 1894