A video showing a 5-year-old as he tries to escape an upcoming paddling from officials at Jasper County Primary School in Georgia, has caused outrage after being shared on social media this week.
The boys mother, Shana Perez said he was being punished for misbehaving and that she only consented to the paddling because she felt pressured as she had previously been arrested for truancy after Thomas had missed school for 18 days
She said that as punishment for this offense, the principal gave her two options:
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Either have Thomas suspended or have him paddled. She said she believed she could go back to jail for another day for truancy if Thomas was out of school.
When Shana Perez was told that her son Thomas had been misbehaving in school, she was given two options: he could be suspended for a day or receive a paddling. Perez chose paddling after, “[the school administration] said there was nothing else, no other way possible that anything that they could do or that could be done for him was going to help him but to be paddled,” as she told WAGA.
Perez explained that the situation began when Thomas “tried to hit another child and they said he, I guess, he missed, but he tried to run around the bus lot and they were all trying to stop him, and he spit on somebody.”
Although Perez did not upload footage of the actual paddling, she did film the administrators attempting to get him to assume the position. The boy screams and cries for his mother, who tells him, “I’m not listening to you, I’m texting.”
After Thomas squirms away from the administrators, one woman says, “Mama can’t help you, mama might have to go wait outside the door.”
Perez said that she acquiesced out of concern that she would end up in jail for truancy if she chose to have him suspended. Although she cannot confirm that the school told her she faced truancy charges if she chose the alternative to physical punishment, she claims to have been arrested previously after Thomas missed 18 days of school for a cancer scare.
Jasper County Sheriff Donnie Pope told WAGA that although Perez had been arrested for truancy in the past, she was not at risk of being arrested for it again.
So far, the district has kept quiet about the incident. However, they did release a statement:
“The Jasper County School District is aware of the video released by Ms. Perez. Unfortunately, the District is barred by State and Federal law from commenting about the specifics of this incident. The District respects every student’s right to privacy.
“However, we can speak generally about the District’s code of conduct which allows corporal punishment as one of the consequences for behavior. That code of conduct is provided to all parents. When corporal punishment is used, it is with parental consent. The District is investigating the incident and looking into its’ discipline policies at this time.”
Corporal punishment of children is a hotly debated topic in the US. Although 65 percent of mothers and 76 percent of fathers told Child Trends, “it is sometimes necessary to give a child a ‘good, hard spanking’” it is only legal for schools to administer them in 19 states.