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10th May 2021

School principal cleared of wrongdoing after video of her spanking child goes viral

Claudia McInerney

The pupil was spanked three times with a wooden paddle

An elementary school principal in Florida has now been cleared of wrongdoing after a viral video showed her spanking a six-year-old pupil with a paddle for damaging a computer.

On Friday, State Attorney Amira Fox’s office said that Melissa Carter, principal of Central Elementary School in Clewiston, will not face charges over the incident.

Officials also said that Carter did not commit a crime after the crying child was punished in front of her mother last month.

In the viral video, the pupil was then spanked three times with a wooden paddle and told to apologise to her mother.

Prosecutors said that the punishment did not cause harm or amount to child abuse, as the child’s mother was present and had consented to the punishment of her six-year-old daughter.

Carter was under investigation by police after the incident took place on 13 April.

As reported by the Independent, Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden, said that from his personal perspective, he “saw no crime being committed” and that it was the role of the state attorney to decide whether to press charges against the head of the school.

Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney Abraham Thornburg said that “the evidence in this case appears clear that the child’s mother sanctioned and consented to the spanking of her daughter as discipline for misbehaviour.

“A parent has a right to use corporal punishment to discipline their children and similarly has the right to consent that others do so on their behalf,” he said.

“Based upon the evidence reviewed, the actions of Ms. Carter in this case do not meet the elements of any criminal offence in the State of Florida,” Thornburg concluded.

The use of corporal punishment is still legal in several US states, including several counties in Florida, however it is banned in Hendry in the southern part of Florida.