When does corporal punishment cross the line into child abuse? This is a question that will garner a different answer from a broad swath of people and one that is not easy to come by. Some people, especially those from an earlier generation, tend to strongly believe in the right to discipline their child in a way they see fit. Others will say that corporal punishment is legally sanctioned child abuse and that we need to protect vulnerable children who can not protect themselves. Both sides are uncompromising in their beliefs and both sides think that the truth is on their side.
With Adrian Peterson's recent arrest on child abuse charges, this little talked about issue has burst out into the open. Peterson is accused of crossing the line while disciplining his child during a recent visit to the star players Texas home.
The whooping occurred after Peterson's boy supposedly knocked another boy off of a motorbike video game. Peterson had the child tell his mother what he did and that he received a whooping to his mother via a Skype chat shortly after. When the child returned to his mother, she took him to a doctor because he had a number of lacerations on his thighs, lower back, and buttocks. A doctor then reported the incident to authorities in the mother's home town of Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The doctor who attended to Peterson's son told authorities the bruises and lacerations on the boys body crossed the line and termed it 'child abuse' in an official report.
While there is no law against corporal punishment in the home, the law is very specific of the line that can not be crossed in administering it. Texas, the state prosecuting Peterson because that is where the crime allegedly took place, has a state law
that defines child abuse and a grand jury found that Peterson acted in a manner that was “not reasonable.
No child should ever receive lacerations and deep bruises as a form of punishment. Different minds can disagree about the benefits or harm of corporal punishment, but there is a line that should never be crossed. Adrian Peterson seemed to have crossed that line if we are to believe the grand jury and prosecutor who brought the charges.
Perhaps these charges leveled against Peterson will begin a discussion about the need to have a uniform code banning corporal punishment. The statistics are crystal clear that these types of disciplinary actions do not work and often have an adverse effect on the children who receive the punishment. Beating a child for making a mistake is sheer lunacy if you think critically about it. There are far more effective ways to teach developing minds right from wrong without laying a hand on them. It's time we start using positive reinforcement instead of taking out our anger on defenseless four year old's.