A viral video of a Georgia principal spanking a kindergartner is sparking controversy and discussion about corporal punishment, WSB-TV reports.

The paddling took place Wednesday morning at Jasper County Primary School. In the video, the 5-year-old student screams and tries to escape his punishment for spitting on another student.

Shana Perez, the boy’s mother, stood by and recorded the video. She now regrets giving her consent for the beating. She spoke with WSB-TV: “There’s no way I can express how sad or how I felt about watching him be treated like that. I didn’t realize at that moment how they basically abused him.”

The mother told the network that school officials coerced her into giving verbal consent. Perez said the principal hinted she would be arrested a second time for truancy if her son was suspended. The principal offered paddling as an alternative, Perez claimed. Authorities jailed Perez earlier this year after her son missed 18 school days. She said he was absent because of tests for possible cancer.

However, Jasper County Sheriff Donnie Pope told WSB-TV he could not confirm that the child had medical excuses for his absence, and the school declined to comment. The sheriff also denied the principal coerced Perez. He added that nothing in the video is illegal, because the school had permission for the spanking.

The school district’s superintendent released this statement, via WSB-TV:

“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.”

Perez said that in hindsight, she would rather go to jail than allow the paddling. She planned to meet with school officials to discuss the situation.

SOURCE: WSB-TV | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube

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