A startling video shows a 5-year-old boy getting paddled by his school principal in front of his mom.
Shana Marie Perez, who recorded the footage of her son's punishment, says she's had a long-running dispute with the school principal in Georgia. Her son has had 18 unexcused absences this school year and she was once arrested for his truancy.
She says the school threatened to call the police and have her arrested again if she did not give them permission to paddle Thomas.
She told IE: "I felt like I had no other option. The principal led me to believe that the paddle was the only option."
Perez said her son was "devastated about the whole situation."
"Every time I try to walk up to him he says 'don't hit me, don't hit me,'" she added.
The local sheriff says the school did nothing wrong because paddling is legal in Georgia as long as the parent gives their consent.
The disturbing video is re-igniting an old debate: is paddling really an effective way to punish a child this young?
Psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz told IE: "There is really no data to say that corporal punishment effects positive change."
She added: "When you take a kid that is already being oppositional and defiant, now you have taught him that another method of coping is to hit. Chances are you are going to get a child that is going to hit."
The school district says they are investigating the incident and their discipline policies