MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Parents and children’s rights groups are reacting to the Pope’s recent statement at the Vatican, saying it is acceptable to spank children, as long as their dignity is maintained.

The comments are shining a spotlight on the controversial issue of corporal punishment.

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A mother of three, who didn’t want her name used, plays with her kids, ages 5, 3 and 10 months, and also home schools them.

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She says discipline is something that comes up in her household all the time. But she says she makes it a point to remain firm but patient with the kids.

She says she uses light physical punishment only after other methods like separating them or taking away a privilege.

“If you consider spank, touching their hands and telling them no, that I think is a last resort,” she told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.

She has concern though, about Pope Francis’ statements about spanking, at the Vatican, Wednesday.

The Pontiff, speaking about a conversation he had with a father, said it’s acceptable for parents to spank their children, but not in the face.

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“A father knows how to correct without degrading,” Pope Francis said in Italian.

The mom worries those comments could be used to justify what she considers child abuse.

“He’s a person in authority. And when you comment something like that which is very delicate, with such an open statement, people may use it to justify their behavior.”

President of the national non-profit group, Alliance Against Corporal Punishment, Julie Towbin bristles over the Pontiff’s statement and says spanking should be a crime.

“Spanking in any other context, using physical force against another human being is illegal.”

South Floridian, Sergio Treto grew up being spanked, and has raised a hand occasionally to discipline his four children.

He said in Spanish, “When they’re going to do something wrong, they remember Papi is going to give me a spanking..that’s nothing bad.”

In the United States parents can legally spank their children as long as the force is ‘reasonable’.

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Corporal punishment in schools is also legal in many states, including Florida. Though public schools and Catholic schools in South Florida do not allow it.