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Who knew spanking at school was legal in 19 states???

It is one of the most controversial methods of child discipline, but spanking in school — usually with a wooden or fiberglass paddle — is still allowed by law in 19 states. The practice is most prevalent in the Midwest and South. According to a report from the Juvenile Information Exchange, more than 28,500 students in Georgia were spanked in 2008, mostly in rural counties. The number is much smaller in Florida — around 3,600 last year — but that’s where the issue is getting new attention.

For the second year in a row, a Florida lawmaker is trying to ban corporal punishment in schools there; last year the measure never made it to the floor for a full vote.

Opponents of the ban say spanking is matter of tradition and good old-fashioned discipline. But at least one Florida mom is suing to stop the practice. Tenika Jones says the principal at the Joyce Bullock Elementary School in Levy County paddled her 5-year-old so severely last April that he cried for hours, triggering an asthma attack, which in turn required a trip to the emergency room.

The boy was spanked for roughhousing with another student on a school bus. Jones said her son had welts on his buttocks, missed a week of school and still has nightmares about the incident.

“That’s child abuse to me,” the 32-year old told reporters, “If they don’t want us to hit our kids, they shouldn’t either.” Principal Jaime Handlin declined to comment, citing the on-going legislation, but she did tell the Willston Pioneer newspaper that “nothing was violated.” She added, “I disciplined out of love, not anger.”

Researchers have found that spanking can increase aggressiveness in children and can even hurt the mental development of young children.

“Corporal punishment doesn’t get us the results we want,” said Deborah Sendek, program director of the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that advocates against corporal punishment. “You can get the same result from an intervention – simply telling and teaching children to stop the behavior.”

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