BRADENTON (FOX 13) - A couple in Bradenton faces felony charges for spanking their young daughter.
Pauline Lee, 26, and her fiancé Jeremy Perry, 38, were arrested for child abuse without great harm, a third-degree felony.
They admitted to "whipping" their daughter with a belt, according to Bradenton Police.
Administrators at Rogers Garden Elementary School contacted Child Protective Services on Wednesday after they said the girl had several bruises on her body.
Police said a medical examination determined the child had been hit at least 20 times with a belt. They said it happened at her family's home.
Officers recovered a belt matching the bruises on the girl and spoke to Lee and Perry, who admitted to hitting the girl.
According to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, 70-percent of U.S. adults agree that it is sometimes necessary to spank children, but some say there is a thin line between discipline and abuse.
"Talking things out has always proven to be more effective, but I haven't ruled out actually using corporal punishment," said Mario Rivera. "That can sometimes send a message to the kids that violence is the only answer."
"You can go too far, I think, to a point where, if you already taught them the lesson, and they understand what's wrong, you don't need to continue to spank them to the point where they're scared of you," said Sonia Bynum.
Florida parents have a constitutional right to privacy in rearing their children, but that right is not without limits.
Florida Appellate Courts have reasoned that normal welts and bruises can be a natural result of a spanking, but in child abuse cases, the courts consider many factors, including the size and location of the bruises and how long the bruises last on the body.
"That's not the purpose, not to make your child scared of you, but to show them, you know, don't do this again," said Bynum. "You should know a limit. Don't do it to where they're bruised up and marked up."
According to Bradenton police, Lee was granted custody of her daughter in February by Michigan Family Courts.
Both Lee and Perry are being held without bond at the Manatee County Jail.