Adrian Peterson, Child Abuse, And Why It Doesn’t Matter If That’s How You Were Raised

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It is never acceptable to beat a little kid bloody with a weapon, because that is always child abuse.

I can’t believe it’s 2014 and I have to spell that out for people. Yet in the wake of star running back Adrian Peterson’s grand jury indictment for reckless and negligent injury to a child, it’s clear there are grown men and women out there who still think it’s OK to strip leaves off a tree branch and whip a 4-year-old until he bleeds. To stuff leaves in his mouth. To cut him on the legs, thighs, buttocks, and scrotum. To whip him between 10-15 times, leaving defensive wounds on the poor kid’s hands that were still readily apparent even a week later when photographs were taken.

What Adrian Peterson did was wrong. That’s fact, not opinion. And yet, for so many, they don’t accept that. Why?

I’ve been told it’s a southern thing. A cultural thing. A black thing. A religious thing. I’ve been told it’s the only way to make sure children are raised to be respectful. I’ve been told if more kids were disciplined like this, there would be fewer school shootings and spoiled children. But mostly, I’ve been told this kind of corporal punishment is acceptable because the parents who do it were raised this way themselves. And after all, they were whipped and they turned out just fine.

Want to know how I know they’re wrong? Because they still think it’s OK to take up weapons against children and beat them bloody.

If this is part of your southern culture, then your southern culture condones child abuse and needs to change. If this is because you’re African-American, then the black community needs some serious internal reflection and a change of heart, because this is wrong. And if this is how you were raised, well…I’m sorry for that. But just because your parents made a terrible mistake out of ignorance, doesn’t mean you have to continue the violent cycle.

Because that’s the thing — your parents weren’t perfect. They made mistakes, probably because they didn’t know any better. Some of our parents smoked while pregnant because the dangers of smoking weren’t well established yet, or didn’t use car seats because the safety standards weren’t in place. Our parents didn’t have the wealth of information available to us today, so why repeat mistakes made out of ignorance when we know better now?

NFL analyst Cris Carter — a black NFL Hall of Famer no less — said he was whipped as a child when disciplined. However, he chose to parent a different way. Watch this.

Cris Carter learned from his mom’s mistakes. But the saddest part of this whole fiasco is Adrian Peterson believes he didn’t do a damn thing wrong.

When Peterson was asked how he felt about the incident, he said, “To be honest with you, I feel very confident with my actions because I know my intent.”

If Adrian Peterson thinks he turned out so wonderful because he was whipped with various objects as a child, just imagine what he could’ve accomplished if he hadn’t been physically abused. And I’m sorry, but when it comes to putting our kids in danger with physical violence, ignorance is no excuse.

And let’s not forget, this is a TEXAS grand jury that indicted him. If I had to pick a state that would likely be the most lenient on a parent engaging in corporal punishment, Texas would top the list. Yet here Peterson is, facing charges. And boy do I hope he’s found guilty.

Also, please don’t let Peterson’s defenders turn this into a public debate on spanking and government intrusion in our lives.

This isn’t about spanking because Adrian Peterson didn’t spank his son. I can count on one hand the times I’ve given my oldest a swat on the butt, mainly because he was attempting to run toward the road or trying to tear off the electrical outlet cover after putting his hand in the dog’s water bowl. And even then, it wasn’t the force that made him cry it was the stern “NO!” that accompanies the light spank.

That’s in stark contrast to Peterson, who reportedly took the time to fashion himself a switch and proceeded to beat his small child bloody with it by hitting him more than a dozen times. A grown man who smashes into offensive linemen and linebackers for a living, whipping a small boy who he’s supposed to love and care for. How anyone can defend that is beyond me.

Allow me to bottom line this for you. If you think hitting your kid with a stick until he bleeds is an acceptable form of punishment, you’re a bad parent. And, more than likely, you’re engaging in a criminal act. Your culture, race, ethnicity, and upbringing don’t matter in this instance. I don’t care where you’re from or what color you are, because when you decide to whip your 4-year-old with the branch of a tree, you are committing a crime. And I hope you face the same charges Peterson is facing.

But mostly, I hope it doesn’t get to that point. I’m hoping this will be a wake-up call to the parents who still condone this kind of nonsense. I’m hoping people realize you can raise respectful kids without beating them with tree branches and household objects.

Times have changed. And they’ve changed for the better. So stop abusing your kids.

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15 thoughts on “Adrian Peterson, Child Abuse, And Why It Doesn’t Matter If That’s How You Were Raised

  1. Can’t believe people are condoning this sort of beating. There are lots of folks defending this for the reasons you mention, but in the end, if you’re making your child bleed, you’re abusing him or her. How can you look at your kid after doing that and not feel like anything but a total piece of shit? I whooped my 11 year old when she was 3 one time, and it was mostly just because I never had and was curious as to whether or not it would work. One swat on her ass and all I did was scare her and make myself feel awful. I’ve never spanked her since and she’s doing great. I don’t judge those who swat their kids to some extent, but using a belt or stick or anything other than your open hand isn’t acceptable anymore. Deal with that and find a new way to engage your child.

  2. Nailed it right here: “Want to know how I know they’re wrong? Because they still think it’s OK to take up weapons against children and beat them bloody.”

    The fish swimming in the pond has no clue what substance suspends it off the pond’s floor. Only the observer outside the pond can show the fish what water is. I get so tired of hearing the “I was beat and turned out fine, so I’m going to do that, too” argument. People need to realize that there are more compassionate ways to teach morality than with punishment.
    Dr. Josh Misner recently posted..5 Steps Toward Parental PerfectionMy Profile

  3. “If this is part of your southern culture, then your southern culture condones child abuse and needs to change. If this is because you’re African-American, then the black community needs some serious internal reflection and a change of heart, because this is wrong. ”
    “Your culture, race, ethnicity, and upbringing don’t matter in this instance.”

    Drawing attention to the evils and ills of child abuse is great. Fighting against it and taking a personal and public stance is great. Child abuse is absolutely horrible. I’m not wishing to dispute that or condone anyone’s violent actions.
    However, there’s a piece of the picture that is convenient to be leaving out – that America was built by controlling the bodies of black and brown people, (as well as poor white people and other outcasts). (Still part of current reality) And this controlling was and is done by abuse by our oppressors and, due to internalizing, by ourselves as well. Enslavement taught us that we had no right to our own bodies and that violence and abuse was appropriate, or at least acceptable and normative to control us and keep us in line. Enslaved people who were able to make their own families had to look out for one another, for survival. At any moment, always, an oppressor could bring harm, separation, death, or worse to enslaved individuals and family groups. We hurt our children because it often meant that oppressors wouldn’t kill them or separate us. Yes, it’s 2014 but many of us are still operating in survival mode with an enslavement mentality. We live with anxiety, and stress, and trauma that probably make it more likely for some of us to mistreat other people in a number of ways, including child abuse. I don’t believe that any of this makes it, “okay.” It just seems extremely short-sighted to suggest that a group of people (particularly an oppressed and non-privileged group) go and magically reflect and change, especially when the system that we live in does not privilege us.
    Thanks.

  4. Rob: Yes, I enjoy white privilege. Yes, racism is unfortunately alive and well. And yes, even though slavery ended 150 years ago, its effects are still felt in a variety of ways today. I grant you all of that.

    But I’m sorry, I do not believe one of those ways is child abuse.

    If an oppressor can bring harm or separation to your family, how does that parent bringing harm to their kids help in any way, shape or form? I’m not trying to minimize feelings about the black community, but I cannot for the life of me imagine the “they’re gonna beat on us so we need to beat on each other first” mentality playing any part here.

    It’s upbringing, economic status, and education.

    Adrian Peterson was beat violently as a kid for “good discipline.” Yet his father, the man who administered the beatings, was sent to prison for money laundering regarding a cocaine distribution network. But instead of seeing the hypocrisy of a violent criminal thinking he can properly administer discipline, Peterson never gained the perspective to see what was happening to him for what it really was — abuse. But I don’t think it has anything to do with slavery.

    It doesn’t have to be a magical reflection that leads to necessary change. There’s nothing magical about teaching people that beating your kid bloody is bad. But yes, I stand by the fact that it needs to happen. Not just in the black community, but every community in which this occurs. The hard part here is people like Peterson don’t even know they’re doing anything wrong, so the first part is looking at a case like AP’s and convincing people it’s illegal to do this to kids and showing them how someone can get in trouble for it.
    Daddy Files recently posted..Adrian Peterson, Child Abuse, And Why It Doesn’t Matter If That’s How You Were RaisedMy Profile

  5. Im not sorry for saying this……
    Rob…..All of what you said sounds to me like excuses to justify a nature that the African American culture continues to CHOOSE to live.
    For the love of puppies, can we move on from the topic of slavery at some point in this nation.

  6. I just had to comment based on Rob…I am a Caribbean immigrant and my husband is Black however we *choose* not to spank because we want to break the cycle. It’s hard because it’s like you are hard wired to respond a certain way. Sometimes I hear myself saying things that my parents would have said and I have to stop myself. But we need to try to do better.

    I don’t think talking about slavery is an ‘excuse’ like the poster above- I think it’s good to know where you come from to understand why the hell everything is so f’d up. *But we need to take that information, process it, analyse it and LEARN from it. ADJUST our actions. We are intelligent, human beings, we are not beholden to our past.*

    When you know better, you do better.

  7. And sorry Angela, for lots of people in this country, it’s a bit hard to ‘move on from the topic of slavery’. I am sorry it’s such a hard topic for you to deal with in your life.

  8. I was beaten as a child. I have two children and I choose not to beat my children. We have the ability to break the abuses cycle. We do NOT have to make the mistakes our parents made.

  9. Hallelulia for the clarity and decisiveness of this article! THANK YOU! Meanwhile, I’m white and have lived in Charleston SC for 40 years (and in 1989 took the city on and prevailed in banning paddles, switches and fan belts from public schools – where they were hitting black kids at 5 times the rate of whites ). Charleston is where most slaves landed and I can tell you other white folks that in the big picture slavery was, in fact, like YESTERDAY! I see it’s awful legacy everywhere around here and have concluded that if I were black I’d be a damn radical! To Charleston’s credit – after pulling out all the stops to KEEP on hitting school kids – the school board thanked me in the end for “educating us.” Ignorance, engrained bad habit and hard-heartedness are at at the root of all abuse (and for the contributor who couldn’t figure out why a slave “had” to hurt his kids – see the hair raising film “beloved.”). An interesting and telling fact of history is that when Native Americans first saw European settlers hitting their kids they were shocked, horrified and bewildered. How could a fully grown human being physically attack a tiny one? They saw it as the height of cowardice, insensitivity and stupidity. I’m with them!

  10. I love this post up and down and all over the place. The excuses for beating a child sicken me. Using the Bible to condone beating a child sickens me even more. And the cultural differences are there, but we have to right them NOW. This poor child will have whip marks on his body for a long time, and it makes me so sad. Thanks for writing about it.

  11. Trust goes a long way with kids. They need to be able to trust you. If parents are beating them black and blue, who will they go to when they need help or advice? I know its wrong because even wild animals don’t do it. They don’t beat their offspring bloody. Most they’ll do is a growl or a quick diciplinary nip. (I’m not saying to nip your kids but my point is…wild animals are better with discipline then some parents are.) Trust is so important. Trust between parents and their kids. Kids who are taught that hurting other people is okay, will hurt other people.

  12. I’ve remembered when I was seven years old my mom got my dad’s belt and started hitting me with it because I wouldn’t do my homework, but I don’t need to worry about it anymore it’s past now. I’m 22 years old now and my parents are not going to do that to me anymore.

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