Tennessee mom questions corporal punishment after daughter allegedly bruised

UPDATE: An Overton County parent says the school went too far with the use of corporal punishment.

Christy Smith says the principal at AH Roberts Elementary paddled her daughter bruised and unable to sit without a pillow.

8 year old Bailey admits she misbehaved.

"I was talking about this other little girls mom because she said something about my mama," said Bailey.

Bailey and another student were sent to the principal's office.

"I got the two paddles and I told the principal to stop and then they held my hands like this and she paddled me again," said Bailey.

Christy says she gave the principal permission to paddle her daughter but didn't expect her to come home bruised.

"She pulled her pants down and she had a massive bruise on the right side of butt. if I had done this they would've definitely called DCS on me and I would've been in jail and lost my kids," said Christy Smith.

Last year the US Department of education urged Tennessee and 21 other states to end the use of corporal punishment in public schools.

"I believe there's some people who don't know how to do it right and they shouldn't do it at all if they can't do it right, they should not do it at all," said Christy.

"I think they should paddle students but that they shouldn't do it out of anger. My mom says when you go into a room and you're going to spank a child that you need to take five deep breath's before you go in there and it just calms you down," said Bailey.

Overton County Director of Schools, Mark Winningham says he hasn't received an official complaint about can't comment on a specific student record. Winningham said he didn't have a comment on the use of corporal punishment in the district.


NASHVILLE, Tenn.--The mother and grandmother of an 8-year-old Tennessee student are questioning the use of corporal punishment at schools after their daughter came home with what they say was a large bruise on her backside.

Christy Smith says she received a call from the principal of A. H. Roberts Elementary School on Wednesday morning, asking for permission to issue corporal punishment on her daughter (a student at the school) and another student because they were being disruptive in class.

"She said my daughter and another girl were arguing so since they were both going to get a spanking, I agreed," Christy says. "But I thought it would be the right way." Chrisy says when her daughter came home, the "swatting" went further than what she expected. According to the child's story told to her mother, the principal paddled the child twice. The girl then put her arm out and stated "it hurt" at which time the Vice Principal allegedly grabbed the girl's arm and held it while she was struck on the backside again.

Christy says her daughter was complaining of pain and decided to take a look. Christy took a photo of the alleged bruise which she says was larger than expected, saying "it seems to me like it was done with a lot of anger." Christy says her daughter had to sleep on her stomach due to the pain and decided to take her to the doctor Thursday morning. Chrisy admits she agreed to the paddling but now questions her decision and if it was warranted. "My child is diagnosed ADHD. She's been seeing counselor. They know that," Christy says.

FOX 17 reached out to the Tennessee Department of Education, which issued a short statement on student discipline and the statutes which explain corporal punishment in the state.

"Tennessee prioritizes keeping students safe and ensuring that our classrooms are places where all students can thrive. In Tennessee, all student discipline and related policies are handled locally at the school and district level. State law has included very specific provisions regarding the use of corporal punishment in Tennessee public schools and schools operated by DCS. The law authorizes the use of corporal punishment, but requires each local board of education that chooses to use corporal punishment to adopt rules and regulations regarding the control or implementation of its use. While corporal punishment is legal, our state training and resources promote the use of restorative practices to foster positive discipline in schools," the statement reads.

According to statute 49-6-4103, "Any teacher or school principal may use corporal punishment in a reasonable manner against any pupil for good cause in order to maintain discipline and order within the public schools."

The term "reasonable" is what Christy's mother Regina (the girl's grandmother) calls into question. Regina says "I've had paddlings before and they never resulted in something like this."

Director of Overon County Schools Mark Winningham says there has been no official complaint filed and has no official comment on corporal punishment. In terms of the alleged incident, Winningham adds he cannot comment on a specific student's record.

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