Paddling at TN school ends with student taken to hospital

MGN
POSTED: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 9:16am
UPDATED: Monday, June 17, 2013 - 10:17am

Erin (WSMV) -- A fifth-grader from Henry County received injuries after a paddling at his school so severe that a deputy recommended his parents take him to the emergency room, according to a report obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team.

Photographs show red welts and dark bruises around the buttocks of the child, and a medical examination obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team indicates there was also bleeding.

The child's mother, who asked her identity remain anonymous, said she gave permission for her son to be paddled at school, but the severity of that corporal punishment is raising questions about how far a school can go in disciplining students.

"More than anything, I was mad," the mother said.

Sheriff's deputies and workers with the Department of Children Services observed the bruises on the 11-year-old boy's backside - injuries which the mother said should bring on a full investigation.

On April 11, the mother gave her son's teacher at Harrellson Elementary School in Puryear, TN, permission to spank him for failing to finish school work.

According to the police report, her son was instead taken to coach Benji Bona to be paddled.

"If I had hurt him like that, he would be in state custody and I would be in jail facing child abuse charges," the mother said.

Bona was placed on administrative leave while the school district and the district attorney investigated, but the mother said the coach was not arrested and the school found no wrongdoing.

Neither Bona nor the school superintendent had a comment when called by the Channel 4 I-Team.

The Tennessee state statute says corporal punishment is allowed but must be done in a "reasonable manner."

A DCS spokesman said the department is now investigating.

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