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Stern Parenting or Child Abuse? It Depends on Who You Ask

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    It seemed almost impossible for the NFL's bad week to get worse, but that is exactly what happened after Texas authorities charged star running back Adrian Peterson with child abuse after one of his children returned home to his mother and she noticed markings throughout his body consistent with a switch or small tree branch. Peterson does not deny striking his child, but insists that it was only 'stern parenting.'

    Child abuse and endangerment is a topic that is near and dear to me. Having worked with both physically and emotionally abused children living in a residential treatment facility, I can attest first hand that the harm this does to children both physically and psychologically lasts throughout their lifetimes. The emotional toll abuse takes on a child is incalculable and it is time we begin to move away from corporal punishment whenever a young child does something 'wrong' and transition into a more therapeutic way of teaching them life's rules and lessons.

    I am well aware that many people will disagree with my point of view. I'm sure I will be called weak or be accused of turning all of our boys into 'wussies' because they can't handle a slap or two. The problem with that is that the numbers behind corporal punishment are crystal clear that it actually makes kids more, not less, violent. States that still allow corporal punishment in schools also have the highest rates of incarceration in America; they have far higher rates of poverty; and their educational performance ranks among the lowest in the country. Corporal punishment in the home is a much trickier issue. There are currently no state laws that ban corporal punishment in the home and the line between spanking and felonious abuse is often left to be interpreted by the states.

    Now, back to Adrian Peterson. A grand jury in Texas has found that there is sufficient enough evidence to file child abuse charges against him. I am sympathetic to his claim that he was only engaging in stern parenting, but the problem with that defense is that there is a very fine line between stern parenting and child abuse. Unfortunately for Peterson, a Texas District Attorney believes he crossed that line.

    I'm interested to see what others on this site think about Adrian Peterson's recent arrest and corporal punishment in general. Do you believe it is an appropriate way to discipline children, even with ever mounting evidence stating otherwise? Or are you against corporal punishment and think it's time we start teaching kids the difference between right and wrong in an entirely new way?
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I had mentioned in another thread the question of whether or not will Mr. Peterson be suspended for an indefinite amount of time as was Mr. Rice, discipline is a very important part of parenting as it allows the child grow within certain boundaries, that being said however, the line between Abuse and Discipline has been crossed when medical attention is needed for the child, a smack on the butt is not harmful and it does allow the child to feel the consequences of their misbehavior, I would suspect that the percentages of abuse among the poor is greater than those who are not poor, but there is also the higher level of frustration among this group and the need to vent is also greater, unfortunately the child has proven to be the target of these emotions, I am sure there are more children who were given corporal punishment that was not abusive in nature that did not grow up to become abusers themselves, the percentages seems to reflect only those children who were victims of harsh or even abusive discipline. Mr. Peterson ,according to the Doctors ,has crossed that line.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    The first Grand Jury did not suggest charges against A.P. The second did ****. If they hadn't I guess you could have gone on until one did. I don't know the specifics of A.P.'s situation so I won't comment there. As far as corporal punishment for a child. I am not against it. Having raised 3 children, I have spanked my kids when needed. I have never used a switch, a belt, or a paddle. Just an open hand across the bottom. Jared, I think it's important to emphasize that the cases you mention were probably extreme situations. Thinking back over many years of parenting.... there's one instance that stands out the most. It's when you grab your 3 year old seconds (or a mili second) before they run into the street with a car driving by. Yes they've been told countless times not to do that. You realize a mistake in that instance versus a 3 - 4 thousand pound car could result in death. You could at that moment have a poignant, witty, well thought out conversation. Then wonder how much of it was absorbed. Because next time could be the last time. It's that instance where I went with a firm spanking. Reason is #1 you must have undivided attention. #2 you must make your point explicitly. All punishment should have a full explanation of why punishment is being administered and what the potential harm is if the rule is not followed. In this same situation, many will chose something else. Taking away a teddy bear, No cartoons for an hour, an hour sitting in a chair - time out. The beauty of parenting is that like cooking, you find what works for you.
    Running into the road, reaching for the stove top - or items on the stove, reaching for medicine, approaching an unknown dog, are a few of the more serious issues that you must be extra careful with. You always hope that all children are completely safe. Some bad things will happen. You just hope that you've done all that you could to teach and protect a child.
    JC, you made some very good points.

    ESPN's website has corrected their previous report that more than one Grand Jury reviewed this case. **** CORRECTION ****
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    I would have expected more opinions here. Sure, we're old but we can remember parenting. Too sensitive of an issue to be discussed ? What worked for you ? What were your methods ? I'm not against corporal punishment but I don't think a child needs spanked for not picking up their toys. I expected more of an exchange of thoughts, ideas, opinions. I didn't start the topic but I imagine my initial reply is controversial for some.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Tony; sure. However parenting is for every person different; so you may get a million views on it . It also depends on from what culture you come from. As well the comparison between now and the past. We did not have guns in school neither had any of my kids guns. They were not distracted as much as today with toys and I-Pads. So different times different behavior and punishment. Parents work longer and have babysitters; in the past women stayed home; Dad worked; that makes a huge difference. When I was a kid you played outside; your toys were marbles or a beat up step or old second hand kids bike; no luxuries whatsoever. In the morning, go first to the shed and get firewood for the stove in the freezing cold; then try to start the stove with straw or something; then try to get water out of the pump with a swinging motion and priming it with some water before you got some water; put this on the smoky stove and ran upstairs to wash your face in a bucket with ice cold water; eat a "see through" piece of bread (a luxury in WWII), then go on your bicycle to school (10miles) in a snow storm; arrive and the teacher starts screaming, that you forgot to do all your home work in ink (with a split pen and ink pot) then the guy twisted your ear lobe till it hurted like hell and you had to scream; yes teacher, I will do my homework.
    But anyway times have changed so my kids did enjoy food on the table free education and nice clothes as well computers etc. but still complain.
    I travelled through the whole world thus had very little time to "spank" the kids; they all made good, so I can't complain.
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    I remember the High School vice principal that handed out punishment regularly with a large paddle with holes in it. Those holes would leave round blood marks and produce a stinging slap on the behind. Yes, it was a red badge of courage to go to his office for punishment. Than, there was the belt at home and occasional switch from the wood shed. Our times have changed, and changed from not using any of those devices, which I used the open palm of the hand on the back side. As the kids grew older, they realized they had done wrong and all of them have expressed gratitude and indicated being sorry for their acts of disobedience. Now all those kids have their own children and I have to say none of them spank, but do yell at times at the children sending them to their rooms. Punishment has been getting softer, even though we have media events showing horrific dungeons, cages, scarring punishments and starvation on children that suffer from poor parenting. There seems to be extremes going too soft to too hard on punishment.

    I have been sensitive to the new media weapons on police doing unjust harm to the public. Some of these police have serious character issues that prey on teenagers, old age and minorities. Police seem to make judgment in executing punishment prior to having judicial court by peers. All this accomplishes nothing in professionalism, but a terror display of Taliban mentality. I'm sorry, I cannot excuse a policeman for his callous cowardly act of rendering street punishment because he/she has had a bad day. They carry a weapon and badge, but show no honor in providing protection to the public. These police must be removed just like a bad parent is removed form exercising bad judgment on their children.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    I grew up getting whoopings. But what Peterson did was wrong. The kid was admitted to the hospital with open woulds. That is just inexcusable.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    The photos of AP's son are very troubling. I agree that he's gone too far with the punishment. It's a matter of him learning better methods of discipline and he's alluded to that in recent comments. It's being discussed on TV right now that it's a cultural matter that using methods that were used on you are not always acceptable. This will continue to be discussed and rightfully so.
    A side note on Adrian Peterson.... other players in the league have mentioned that when shaking hands with AP how it was amazing how incredibly strong his hands are. This has been said by very strong athletic men. Hopefully the results of this issue will be a better understanding of how and when to apply discipline.
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    What's the public going to do? Reprimand these child abusers and sweet talk them into being better parents and wait until the child is dead or crippled for life at the hands of these abusers? Is it about the abuser or the child? I'm puzzled on just what makes it acceptable in humanity, the parent or the child? Do we accept the parents abusive behavior and accept the child's very apparent torture at the hands of the parent? What many of these cases of an abusive parent renders to a child is nothing less than torture and not good parenting. Even the hands can be brutal weapons of breaking bones and contributing to crippling the child both mentality and physically. There are extremes, than there is proper handling of punishment. Yes, spanking can be controlled and provide discipline, however, leaving marks, scarring the child and bringing blood is over-the-top and shows a lack of parenting control. Frustrations and emotions take over these people and they bring out the worst of punishing a child because the parent had a bad day and doesn't want to provide a time-out for his/her own break down. These parents take it our on the child or spouse, just like the old saying, "kick the dog", which is just as bad in poor human behavior.

    I believe it is clear, these NFL professionals have character control issues and will take out their frustrations and emotions on other people. Even on the playing field they are seen as loosing control and striking illegally the other people in competition. So, what does it say about it being "right" in human behavior. Nothing, just Neanderthal behavior. You don't even have to be professional player, just be a fan and when your favorite team looses, you can take out your emotional frustration out on the spouse and your kids. You can start throwing things around the house putting holes in the walls and breaking down doors. If your in a bar and have been drinking and your frustrated at seeing your team loose, you take out on the little weasel on the bar stool sending him to the hospital. Now, did that fell good letting out all that frustration because your team lost the game? The fan is just as bad as the professional player.

    America's law and enforcement needs to throw heavy punishment back at these parents and people that loose control over competitive games and life's problems. If we can arrest people for assault and murder, why can't we arrest these people abusing the children and spouses? I see it as simple.......they broke the law and must pay society with their time in jail or prison. Lock the bastards up........period.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    AMC,
    Some of your points are valid. I do however believe that you've gone on a tangent. Have you been drinking ? Yes abusive people should be punished. Repeat offenders should be punished more harshly. I don't think that sports are going to ruin society though. Yes athletes are often not a good representation of society in general. People who make mistakes can learn from them and improve themselves. Otherwise, what hope do we have ?
    Who amongst us has not ever made a mistake ?
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    So, Tony you say the child is a mistake? The adult takes the responsibility to raise, support and protect that child. That does not mean to brutalize the child with periods of anger because the child spilled the milk or dropped your Iphone. Yes, children make mistakes, but it doesn't call to beat them bringing blood to surface of their tender skin or break their bones from your cycles of punishment. I'm sorry, I cannot agree with your minimizing this activity where an adult looses control and beats a child. This is not an adult mistake, it is a crime. If you think the public is going to accept the Vikings needing to win a game with Peterson and not hold him accountable for a crime, than society has taken several steps backwards from humanity. Do the children need our support or is it a time for Vikings to win a game with Peterson. It's a no brainer if you have a Neanderthal mind, you'll dismiss the child and go for the cheese-dip watching the Vikings play.

    I sure hope people stand for justice in this matter for all children. Several on this Hub have dismissed the Child Prostitution and Slavery posts I have done, to gravitate toward the inhumane character of society and dismiss our children. You get no support from me on your weakness in not supporting children's rights to a life.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    AMC:

    I think you took Tony's statement of making a mistake way out of context, I don't think he was saying that the child was mistake , more on the lines of a mistake in judgment on the part of Peterson, I also believe that Peterson needs a class in parenting along with some anger mgt. skills counseling, as do the other footballers now in the spotlight for abuse, and they should not be allowed on the field of play until such action that action is taken by them, either voluntary or court ordered, it doesn't matter, they do need counseling.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    After the damning revelation that Peterson seems to have a history of being a little too harsh on another young child of his, the Vikings finally did the right thing that benched him indefinitely. He will not be allowed to participate in any team activity and will not be dressing for any games while his legal troubles work their way through the court.

    Read more at NFL.com
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    johnnycee Wrote: AMC:

    I think you took Tony's statement of making a mistake way out of context, I don't think he was saying that the child was mistake , more on the lines of a mistake in judgment on the part of Peterson, I also believe that Peterson needs a class in parenting along with some anger mgt. skills counseling, as do the other footballers now in the spotlight for abuse, and they should not be allowed on the field of play until such action that action is taken by them, either voluntary or court ordered, it doesn't matter, they do need counseling.
    ====
    Thank you JC,
    I thought my message was clear. All human beings should protect the very young, the very old, the sick, the weak and disadvantaged. I'm glad that you understood what I was intending to say.

    AMC, you need to relax. We all want the same thing here. I think that you were being defensive because I suggested that you had exaggerated the effect of athletes and sports on society.

    Yes AP and many others need guidance on how to handle some situations better. I'm hoping all can be informed and learn.

    Yesterday on ESPN they mentioned how Brandon Marshall (when with Denver) had been accused of domestic violence. He was later diagnosed with a mental illness. He got help for it and has not had issues since. He's become quite a spokesperson for recognizing and getting help with mental health issues. It's nice to see a very successful athlete making those comments. We can all have problems, get help, and improve ourselves.
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    .......and than there is Florida State's Winston caught publically making offensive and vulgar statements on women. Of course, the culture breeds these ill people to prey on women and children, as well as the weak and defenseless. Sports and the money will always rise above the public torment until America and the world stand against this culture. Bad kids grown up as they are taught to be even worst than as parents and guardians instruct them to be successful. Somewhere while being taught lessons on life, they either skipped the part in "treat others as you would want to be treated" or "Honor and integrity above all is the most important principal to live by" and "protect the young and defenseless with your life".

    I bet we haven't heard the last of kid Winston. He's only started in his path to treat others badly. Domestic violence for Winston shall be more to come. He would be smart to change, because the NFL just may enact hard line policy in domestic violence, thus denying Winston his professional career. Of course, Winston can become a professional criminal in one of America's prestigious prisons.

    Tony, I'm not at all over-the-top. Please go to a women's shelter and talk to the abused. Now those women, some with children are way over-the-top than I could ever be, however they are recipients of the violence and abuse. When you do go to a women's shelter, please provide donations in clothing, bath items, tooth paste & brushes, towels, wash cloths, coats, and if desired good ole cash. Many of these women and children escape with their lives leaving everything they have behind, thus they have nothing but people's generosity donated to the shelter. Those children nursing their wounds and broken bones in children hospitals also need good cheer and help. Those hospitals will be glad to get you started in a volunteer effort helping abused children, after a good back-ground check, which is reasonable.

    No, I'm not at all exaggerating. It's those that refuse to believe the reality and are in denial of the truth of abusive relationships.