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Spanked in School?

For kids in Florida -- and 18 other states -- a good paddling from the principal remains perfectly legal.

Photo Credit: Vitaly Korovin /


Spanking in school may seem like a relic of the past.

But in Florida, students from preschoolers to high school seniors are still being paddled by teachers and principals.

In parts of the state, mostly in the rural north, getting spanked at school, on your butt, with a wooden or fiberglass board, is just part of being a misbehaving student.

“I been getting them since about first grade,” said Lucas Mixon, now a junior at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla.

“It’s just regular. They tell you to put your hands up on the desk and how many swats you’re going to get.”

Florida is one of 19 states that still allow public schools to paddle, according to the Center for Effective Discipline.

The most recent data shows 3,661 students were spanked in 2010, according to the Florida Department of Education.

Most schools districts in Florida have opted out of using corporal punishment. But almost every county in rural north Florida have policies to allow schools to paddle students.

State Rep. Ari Porth, a Democrat, sponsored a bill to ban school corporal punishment statewide.

He said where students live should not determine whether they get spanked at school.

“When I heard that this practice still exists, I was mortified,” Porth said. “No child should not feel completely safe when they go to school.”

But the bill failed. It never even reached a committee in the Florida legislature.

And that’s just fine for parents like Bud Glover of Bonifay, Fla., a small town 15 miles from the Alabama border.

It’s a place where tradition is valued and paddling is considered tradition.

“I got my butt beat and I know what’s right and wrong. And my children are going to know what’s right and wrong,” Glover said.

Glover represents the feelings of many parents in this part of Florida who support such punishment.

“I think the problem with society is we quit paddling.”

He says the state should not tell parents in his small town how to discipline their children.

But in South Florida, student Camila Cacho, a junior at Miami Beach High School is astonished that the state still allows the practice.

“That’s so dumb, why would we allow people to hit students?” Cacho said. “I would feel embarrassed. That’s degrading.”

Students Make Paddles in Wood Shop

The instrument often used in school spankings is a wooden or plexiglass paddle.

Holmes County High School principal Eddie Dixson with senior Cole Long. Long thinks all schools should paddle students to teach kids “discipline and respect.”

There are no statewide regulations on what the paddles should look like, so each school district creates their own.

The paddle at Holmes County High School looks like really short rowboat paddle. It’s about 16 inches long, 5 inches wide and a half and inch thick.

You can’t buy them at a store, so Holmes County High asks woodshop students to make it.

Senior Cole Long has never made a paddle, but he’s been on the receiving end of one.

He says he’s been paddled for things like, “throwing papers, throwing pencils, a couple times for cussing, back-talking.

“I used to be a really wild child,” he said.

A couple months ago, Long won $7,200 at a bull-riding competition in Texas. But even for a bull-rider, Long says the paddle stings—depending on who’s doing the spanking.

“The assistant principal, he hurts, he hurts,” Long said. “I’ve had it plenty of time from him and he gives it to us a little more bit more.”

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