teachers desk with stack of books pencils and red apple. a blackboard can be seen in the background
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
April 13, 2024 ·  5 min read

Mom Secretly Films 6-Year-Old Being Paddled By Principal, Video Sparks Outrage

Last year, a mother captured an upsetting incident on camera: An elementary principal hitting her 6-year-old daughter with a wooden paddle. “The hatred with which she hit my daughter, I mean it was a hatred that, really I’ve never hit my daughter like she hit her,” the mother said. “I had never hit her.”

The school had called the mother in after her first-grader damaged a computer, costing $50. The mother came to the school to pay it when she was taken into the principal’s office, where her daughter and a school clerk waited. The principal mentioned something about paddling but the mother didn’t fully understand the statement because of the language barrier.

“My daughter was already in the office,” the woman said. “The principal started to scream.” The mother looked around and started to get nervous.

Principal Spanks Student Caught on Camera

“There are no cameras,” she said. “What are we doing in this place? My daughter and I, alone.” So she brought out her own phone to secretly film the proceedings. “Nobody would have believed me,” she said. “I sacrificed my daughter, so all parents can realize what’s happening in this school.”

Some school districts in some states allow corporal punishment. However, the Hendry County School District, where the incident took place, does not allow it. In fact, the district’s policy states: “The superintendent shall designate sanctions for the infractions of rules, excluding corporal punishment.” The policy also states that punishments “do not demean students” and “do not tend to violate any individual rights constitutionally guaranteed to students.”

“That’s aggravated battery,” said Brent Probinsky, the family lawyer. “They’re using a weapon that can cause severe physical harm. The child is terrified, she feels vulnerable. There’s nothing she can do in the hands of these adults, who treated her so brutally, savagely, sadistically.” He explained the police turned over the case to the State Attorney’s Office who later decided not to press charges against the principal and the clerk in the video.

The mother, who is an undocumented immigrant, took her daughter to the doctor to check on the bruises and red marks caused from the paddling. She also worried about long-lasting psychological harm as a result of the punishment. “I’m going to get justice for my daughter because if I could not do it in front of her, I’m going to do it with justice,” the woman said.

Read: Fans Are Divided After Eva Mendes Shares Parenting Quote About Spanking

Is Corporal Punishment Legal?

paddle on corkboard

However, this justice did not come. State prosecutors instead questioned the credibility of the mother, who filmed the incident and shared it with the local TV station. Plus, they stated she consented to the beating and didn’t once speak up to object. Therefore, they cleared the principal and clerk of any wrongdoing. 

Despite this, Probinsky still holds that the prosecutors “flawed legal analysis” let a guilty party off the hook. “It would be an aggravated battery if you hit an adult with that paddle [and] the fact that she hit a little first-grader makes it even worse,” Probinsky said. “It’s against the law to impose corporal punishment on prisoners. It’s against the law to impose corporal punishment on children in youth detention facilities.” He concluded, “It’s against the law to impose corporal punishment on your cat or your dog or your horse, but you can do it to a little child. So it needs to end. It’s barbaric.” [2]

This shows that despite the school district prohibiting corporal punishment, it still persists, unhindered. And this isn’t the only example, unfortunately. About a dozen school districts in states where it’s banned still use it, disproportionately on students of color and students with disabilities. [3] Keep in mind that research — including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association — has proven that corporal punishment has minimal short-term positive effects with long-term negative effect. It does not improve student behavior, rather it can cause emotional, academic, and behavioral issues. Plus, a study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that children who received spankings are more likely to abuse their partners when they are older. [4]

Read: Research Shows That Spanking Actually Changes How a Kid’s Brain Develops

Does Corporal Punishment Work?

Therefore, the use of corporal punishment has majorly decreased in recent years. But cases like this continue to creep under the radar.

Corporal punishment by definition includes physical punishment like spanking, hitting, pinching, pulling, and forcing the child to consume substances like soap or hot spices. It’s legal federally but varies from state to state. However, it has been banned in many other countries, including Sweden, Germany, and Brazil. Research has shown that while spanking and the like may lead to immediate compliance, it can lead to worsened behavior over time, such as increased aggressiveness toward others. Plus, it can hurt relationships between children and their parents, eroding trust, stability, and security needed for proper development. Even worse, harsh physical punishment was associated with increased odds of mental illness.

In general, discipline shouldn’t be about trying to control children. Instead, it should teach self-control and better choices. Therefore, more effective discipline strategies can include temporarily taking away certain privileges, assigning a duty to make amends, positive reinforcement, and logical consequences, such as if a child breaks something, they should repair it or earn money to replace it. [5]

Keep Reading: A School District Voted to Reinstate Paddling for Students Who Misbehave


  1. Melissa Montoya. “Hendry County school principal under investigation for paddling 6-year-old student in front of child’s mother.” Wink News. April 29, 2021
  2. Mark Keierleber. “‘It’s barbaric’: some US children getting hit at school despite bans.” The Guardian. May 19, 2021
  3. F. Chris Curran. “Video shows students still get paddled in US schools.” Phys.org. May 21, 2021
  4. Brendan L. Smith. “The case against spanking.” APA. April 2012
  5. Amy Morin, LCSW. “Facts About Corporal Punishment.” Very Well Family. August 6, 2020