The essay deals with the issue of violence against children between the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, by trying to intertwine – through a variety of historical sources – macro history with micro history, history of ideas with real educational practices, history of ruling classes with that of subordinate classes. The topic of “discovering the sense of childhood” – understood as awareness of the child life specificity that has become a “value” in the Western World – eventually seemed to have put into crisis the old way of thinking about childhood and education. However, this thorough renewal of educational thinking does not prevent the old interpretive paradigms of childhood – viewed as a season of defective life that should be corrected and suppressed – to survive in some scientific areas. From life histories violent educational practices emerged, making extensive use of corporal punishment and sophisticated psychological conditioning techniques. From these histories of real childhood it seems to emerge the gap – that always existed at all times – between ideas and real educational practices.