Adrian Peterson Case Opens Discussion on Discipline, Corporal Punishment and Child Abuse
By now you've read the reports and seen the pictures from the Houston, Texas police department of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's son's injuries from a 'whooping' delivered by the all-pro player.
As a dad, grandpa and die-hard Vikings fan, I was sickened by the injuries sustained by the 4-year old. I couldn't imagine what a toddler would do to incur that kind of wrath. Add in to the fact that dad is a physical specimen even by NFL standards who has no fear of being chased by guys who are 6'4 and 250 pounds, what kind of threat could a 4-year old pose?
Peterson hasn't denied what he did, he's been cooperative with authorities, he apologized right after the incident to the child and the mother, but none of that makes it any better. And I'm certainly not making excuses for him, but that's the way Peterson was raised by his father according to statements he's made. He stepped out of line, he was talked to. If that didn't work, then it was a whooping with a switch.
I was never hit by a switch, or a belt, or even a wooden spoon when I was growing up. But I took my share of spankings, that's for sure. And none of them were because mom was having a bad day and decided to take it out on me. It was because I was a prepubescent asshat who needed a little extra beyond a 'talking to'. My mom now feels guilty looking back on it, but I've told her to NOT feel that way. I didn't listen to the warning, but I learned a LOT from the smack! I grew up with a respect for my mom and for authority. It helped me become who I am.
But in this day in age, you can't even raise your voice to a child without fear of repercussions or a visit from social services. Again, I'm not condoning child abuse. There IS a line and Peterson most definitely crossed that line in my opinion, but we've all seen a huge increase in kids having zero respect for their parents, for authority, for anyone really, and I wonder if part of the reason is that they were just allowed to run wild and faced no discipline growing up.
I have co-workers who are younger than my daughter who firmly believe that if you raise your hand to your child, you should be charged with child abuse. That generation is the one that is getting laws changed and stiffer penalties instituted.
Peterson was charged with one count of injury to a child and could be sentenced to as many as two years in state jail, as well as a $10,000 fine. Probation is an option for defendants with no prior criminal record.
It's important to note however that it is legal in 19 states for school staff to paddle unruly students and in every state in the country, parents can legally strike their child as long as the force is "reasonable." At least for now.
I commend the Minnesota Vikings organization for taking immediate action and deactivating Peterson for Sunday's game while waiting for a decision to be made in Texas. The NFL will likely take action against Peterson for violating the league's personal conduct policy as well.
In a week that also saw former Baltimore Raven's running back Ray Rice cut by his team following the video release of him knocking out his then fiancee (now wife) with a punch to the face in an elevator and the social storm that followed, I fully expect the NFL to throw the proverbial book at Peterson with a suspension and fine. I wouldn't be surprised to see him cut by the Vikings as well.
Do I think Peterson intended to injure the child? No. Do I think he was sorry as soon as he did it? Probably. Did he know what he was doing was over the line and too much? I don't think so. And that makes me sad that it's really perpetuating the cycle of abuse that needs to end somewhere. If his NFL career has to end to bring to light the cycle of abuse and maybe save kids from what they've had to endure, so be it. He deserves whatever punishment is meted out and then some if the police reports are true.