Florida state senator backs school-punished principal for paddling 6-year-old girl in front of her shocked mother

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Florida State Senator George Gainer said it’s okay to hit students when they misbehave, but teachers don’t ‘leave traces’

A Florida state senator has backed a school principal convicted of beating a six-year-old girl in front of the child’s baffled mother.

George Gainer, who represents a district in North Florida, said he was beaten regularly growing up in Jackson County, claiming it didn’t hurt him, with a school superintendent in his district insisting that smacking works better than suspensions.

“It’s okay to hit them, but don’t hit them,” he told the Palm Beach message. “It’s okay if you’re supposed to teach them a lesson, but don’t leave any traces.”

Corporal punishment, defined as the “use of physical violence with the intent to hurt a child in order to correct their misconduct,” is legal in Florida. But only 19 school districts – many of which are in the Gainer district – allow the practice today.

“There is certainly a place for corporal punishment in the school system, but not spanking,” Gainer said. “You have to know when to hit them and how hard to hit them.”

“Once a child finds out, you won’t hit them,” he said, “then you’ve lost all control.”

The comments come after a Florida executive was cleared of a wrongful act after a viral video showed she hit a six-year-old girl with a paddle in front of her mother as punishment for damaging a computer.

Florida school principal Melissa Carter, left, was featured in a viral video last month hitting a six-year-old child with a wooden paddle

State attorney Amira Fox’s office said last week that Carter (pictured), principal of the Central Elementary School in Clewiston, would not be charged in the incident, despite the Palm Beach Post reporting that the district has a policy against corporal punishment.

State attorney Amira Fox’s office said last week that Melissa Carter, principal of Clewiston’s Central Elementary School, will not be charged with the incident and that no crime has been committed.

The sentence caused no harm and did not amount to child abuse, and the investigation found that the child’s mother, Fabiola Rivera, agreed to have her daughter beaten by the school’s staffer.

The 19 States That Allow School Paddling

Today, there are only 19 states that allow paddling in schools. They are:

  • North Carolina
  • south carolina
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Wyoming
  • Idaho

According to the Palm Beach Post, officials in the Hendry County School District, where the beating is said to have taken place, ended their practice of paddling in 2016.

Under Florida state law, local school boards are empowered to prohibit physical punishment if they have “adopted a written program of alternative control or discipline.”

Only 19 school districts in the state allow spanking today, the Palm Beach Post reported, five of which reported using corporal punishment less than 10 times in the 2019-20 year.

However, others seemed to use it almost every day, according to a Palm Beach Post-USA Today survey. It was found that in the 2019-20 school year, school officials in Florida used corporal punishment a total of 1,034 times.

Columbia County, north of Gainesville, appeared to be the state’s school capital, according to the report, where 201 corporal punishment was administered last year, 195 of which were registered in the district’s eight elementary schools.

Five Points Elementary in the county registered the most of a single school, the survey found, with 42 strokes.

Another district, Washington County schools, recorded the second highest use of corporal punishment, used 120 times during the 2019-20 school year.

Meanwhile, Spanking has been used 115 times in neighboring Jackson County and 87 times in Holmes County.

Many of these counties are more rural, and Ted Roush, the Superintendent of the Suwanee County School District in Northeast Florida, said it is more acceptable in those communities.

‘In our neck of the woods, many people will say,’ Tell me what he did? ‘and if they agree that the punishment is deserved, they will say,’ Give him a few punches and send him back to class instead of sending him home to spend two days at a computer ‘ , he said.

“That may scare someone in Miami-Dade County, but many parents in our area will have different kinds of norms and standards.”

Spanking is allowed as a form of corporal punishment in 19 school districts, but representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center say it disproportionately affects black children and people with disabilities.

Spanking is allowed as a form of corporal punishment in 19 school districts, but representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center say it disproportionately affects black children and people with disabilities.

These are the 19 states that still allow spanking in schools - although many individual schools and districts have banned corporal punishment

These are the 19 states that still allow spanking in schools – although many individual schools and districts have banned corporal punishment

But community activist Treshika Melvin said the practice is ‘outdated’ and unnecessarily cruel to the children.

According to Southern Poverty Law Center spokeswoman Bacardi Jackson, children suffer physical injuries and mental trauma.

“That hitting a child isn’t necessarily child abuse is part of the rationale that they don’t suffer long-term harm,” she said. “That just doesn’t make sense with science.”

In addition, she said the practice disproportionately affects black children and people with disabilities

She pointed to statistics showing that black boys are twice as likely to receive corporal punishment as white boys and that black girls are three times more likely to be beaten than white girls in school.

Data from the Florida Department of Education appears to support that claim, with black, Hispanic, and mixed students paddling in Jackson County for more than half last year, despite being only 27 percent and 4 percent of the county population, respectively.

In Levy County, west of Gainesville, more than a third of paddles administered to black, Hispanic, or mixed students last year, even though the county is 80 percent white and only 8.5 percent black and 7.5 percent Spanish.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is now lobbying federal officials to end the practice nationwide, despite being legal in 19 states.

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