This week we learned another All-Pro NFL running back was involved in a domestic violence incident. Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings turned himself in on charges of child abuse. Peterson is currently out on $15,000 bail.
Back in May, Peterson resorted to using a branch off a tree, also called a switch on his 4-year-old son for misbehaving. Images of Peterson’s son showed about a dozen welts and some of them appeared to have drawn blood.
Prior to this incident surfacing, Peterson possessed an immaculate reputation for being a great guy. Peterson has been completely cooperative with Texas police and law officials. During a police interview, Peterson pensively explained his side of things.
“To be honest with you, I feel very confident in my actions because I know my intent,” said Peterson.
Outlying the intent, is Peterson’s lack of self-awareness. The Vikings star is listed at 6 feet 3 inches tall and 235 pounds; anyone who has ever watched him play knows how powerful Peterson is.
For a man, but especially a man Peterson’s size, to not realize it would be excessive to grab a tree branch and whip his 4-year- old son a dozen times across his bare skin, is completely and unconscionably ignorant. It is one thing to spank your child it is another thing to draw blood.
This is a cultural issue at it’s core. Peterson was born and raised in Texas. There are a lot of people in the south that believe what Peterson did is not that bad and think he should still be playing.
ESPN did a poll and asked the question, “Do you think Adrian Peterson should be allowed to play this week?” The only states that answered yes to the question were all southern states; Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.
Peterson has several times alluded to the fact, that this is how I was raised and I came out fine. I am a good person so it must be right. The southern region contains the most poorly educated states in terms of average level of education attained.
The problem is it gets passed down through generations. Those who were beaten become beaters. The uneducated are less likely to have studied any parenting skills, they just know how they were raised.
Students who have taken sociology, psychology or parenting classes knows that there are better ways to instill discipline in a child. Using a corporal punishment environment is not the most effective way to raise your children.
In an interview with The New Yorker, Peterson tried to explain his actions.
“I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son,” he said. “I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury.”
Race is also a factor. New York Times contributor, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson brought up a theory that makes a lot of sense. Traditionally, black parents are more likely to spank their children than white parents. Dyson believes fear is what motivates black parents. It stems from how blacks have historically been treated by police authorities, or even going back further, by slave owners.
“The lash of the plantation overseer fell heavily on children to whip them into fear of white authority,” Dyson said.
Disturbingly, this still holds some significance in our society today. The bottom line is, some black parents still practice corporal punishment because they would rather the beating come from them rather than the police.
NBA Hall Of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley, who is often outspoken on social issues, makes an astute observation about being self-aware and the power of educating yourself.
“My mom did the best job she could do, raising seven kids by herself. But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. It’s the twenty-first century,” he said. “You can’t beat a kid to make them do what you want. Thousands of things we have learned since then.”
Peterson is not alone in needing some education. The entire NFL needs to implement domestic violence and parenting skills education or seminars as part of rookie orientation. There have been 14 domestic violence arrests in the NFL since 2011.
There is probably a mob of people who right now think that Peterson should never play again. And there are going to be protestors of Peterson the rest of his career. I am vehemently against taking away a person’s livelihood. People deserve second chances in life, especially those who have have impeccable reputations.
I am in no way condoning what Peterson did. However, the ease at which he cooperated with the police and all of the statements I have read make me believe Peterson is deserving of another opportunity, in both football and in life as a parent.
It will hopefully be an experience that he learns and grows a great deal from. The best running back in the NFL has a tougher job ahead of him, being the best father he can be.