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At one Florida school, students make the paddles used in spankings

At Holmes County High School in Florida’s rural north, not only do naughty students get spanked, but the woodshop class makes the paddles, according to reports in the media.

Eddie Dixon, the principal at the school in Bonifay, a small town 15 miles from the Alabama border, recently told a reporter from StateImpact about the shop class's product: a lightweight paddle made of ash wood, measuring about 16 inches long, 5 inches wide and half an inch wide. 

“You can’t buy them anywhere,” Dixon said, according to StateImpact, a partnership of local public media and National Public Radio. “There’s not a market for them, so yeah, students make it.”


The report didn't say how many paddles a school the size of Holmes County High, with about 500 students, might need. An attempt by msnbc.com to contact Dixon by telephone was not successful Thursday evening.

Holmes apparently isn't the only Florida school making its own paddles. At Madison County Central's elementary and middle school, east of Tallahassee, townfolk make the paddles out of plexiglass, the dean of schools said, according to StateImpact.

Florida is among 19 states that allow school staff to use corporal punishment, according to the Center for Effective Discipline. Other states allowing corporal punishment: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.

More than 220,000 school children nationwide were subjected to physical punishment during the 2005-2006 school year, according to the Ohio-based center, citing the most recent figures available.

Florida defines corporal punishment as the “moderate use of physical force or physical contact by a teacher or principal as may be necessary to maintain discipline or to enforce school rule.”

In September 2011, the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act was introduced in Congress. But the bill, which would outlaw “paddling, spanking or other forms of physical punishment, however light, imposed upon a student," was referred to committee in the House and is seen as unlikely to become law. A state representative's attempt to pass a similar law also failed last year.

So students like Lucas Mixon will face more spankings.

“I been getting them since about first grade,” said Mixon, a junior at Holmes, National Public Radio reported. “It’s just regular. They tell you to put your hands up on the desk and how many swats you’re going to get.”

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