On Spanking and Abuse

Drawing blood isn’t an expression of love. It’s an expression of anger and exasperation that morphs into abuse.

Comments: 241

  1. Raising a child who does not naturally process social cues, the way so-called typical children do, has taught me a lot about love, patience, and using as clear a set of words as I can come up with, when explaining something. Sometimes, my explanations followed an act that needed correction.

    Many children with Autism not only lash out at others, but also engage in self-injurious behaviors. Had we, as parents, engaged in corporal punishment, what would have it contributed to our daughter's understanding of the way the world works?

    A huge part of raising a child with Autism is teaching them to use their words appropriately, when needed, to express a need, feeling, displeasure and pleasure. How would corporal punishment have enhanced that process? How does it enhance it in a typically-developing child who hasn't yet acquired language?

    Many times, punishment is a way to express parental frustration. How fair is that? For those times when a consequence is needed, there are ways to punish that are effective and don't involve raising a hand. Positive reinforcement is what I advocate for all parents to use.

    As was beaten as a child. Repeating my history with it would have served the child I so love.

    As humans, our instinct is to do as we were taught. We have the capacity to think through these things and decide for ourselves which family traditions to put an end to. It's high time corporal punishment was ended in our country. We can do a whole lot better by our kids.

  2. Today's news cycle brought new spanking items to light. The one that caught my eye and raised ire is Reggie Bush' admission that he metes out corporal punishment on his one year old child.

    I just can't fathom.

    Read ThinkProgress' piece:
    "Speaking to WFAN, Detroit Lions Running Back Reggie Bush said Peterson “should definitely be allowed to play football.” Bush said Peterson’s actions were consistent with his own upbringing, which included being beaten with a belt.
    Bush is also a father, and said “I have a 1-year-old daughter, and I discipline her.” Bush added that he “will try to — obviously not leave bruises or anything like that on her — but I definitely will discipline her harshly depending on, again, what the situation is.” In the interview, Bush said he would consider using a switch, as Peterson did, to discipline his own children."


  3. I can't fathom what a one-year-old child could do that would warrant disciplining.

  4. You have to scratch your head to think about what a 1 year old can do that she has to be punished. What an ogre. Sad to say he's not the only one. And too boot, he's dumb and arrogant enough to admit it. Oooops, Reggie, there goes the endorsements.

  5. I want to know whether the studies linking types of punishments and negative or positive child outcomes were structured to demonstrate causation or just correlation.

  6. Simply search the web for your answer.

  7. Too intellectual to be believed! Empathy 0.

  8. Striking a four-year-old child hard enough to draw blood is appalling. From Peterson's own narrative, this wasn't an aberration, but part of a pattern of punishment that he could back up with a philosophy, a practiced ritual of rules that appears to have had a history, developed over time. The boy is four. How much time could there have been to perfect the technique?

    And then I think back to my own upbringing in the 1950s. If every parent who smacked a child back then was brought up on charges there wouldn't have been anyone left to raise the kids. We got spanked, but it wasn't a regular thing, and we didn't register it as abuse. It was part of growing up. This was also a time when racism and homophobia were mainstream, and everybody smoked, everywhere. Attitudes change.

    And it's the fact that attitudes have changed that makes Peterson's behavior seem so brutish and primitive. It's not the child's fault that the father never grew up. But I don't want to see them throw the book at Peterson. The legal system is often more physically and psychologically punishing than a switch across the legs, and, like brutalizing a child, is often counterproductive. I would rather that he truly understand that he did go overboard, and what he did was something he must never do again.

  9. I don't believe he won't do it again. I think he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near his children or anyone else's children, for that matter.

  10. He had the child lower his underwear, and used the switch on his genitals and buttocks-----------enough to draw blood. This is not normal spanking in any way.

  11. If Peterson's upbringing included beating similar to that he gave his son then he has a lot of dangerous habits to unload. He is physically large, strong, and engaged in a career that pays for his violence.

    I hope he arrives at an understanding of how dangerous his "punishment" techniques are and I hope even more that the learning registers.

  12. I have only my own experience to offer. I was sometimes hit by an out of control father, but my former husband was badly beaten with belts. His sister told me once that their mother constantly walked around with a belt in her hand. He and I decided we would never hit our child. Instead, we treated him with respect and politeness. I explained to him that we don't know what's going on in other peoples' homes so other children weren't to be made fun of or physically attacked. He was the child that teachers always sat the new kids near because they knew he'd watch out for them.
    People tell me that children grow up to be bad if you don't hit them. Here's how he grew up. He was a straight A student who missed only one day of school from kindergarten to high school graduation. That was for his grandmother's funeral. He's patient with all people and that's why he's does well as a flight instructor. He's married to a lovely young woman who will soon have a PhD in chemistry.
    We talked things over with him the way you might talk things over with a employee. Would people hit their employees? If you treat children with respect due to them as human beings, and explain why certain behavior is not good, they turn out just fine. At least mine did.

  13. Exactly. Whether it's beating children or women, if it's something that would get you arrested if you did it to a stranger, there's something wrong with doing it to someone you think you love.

  14. We rarely agree but you have some really good comments and thank you for sharing what you went through. I walked that path too.

  15. Linda, When you said "would people hit their employees? you brought back a story i often told. There was a doctor on TV in the '80s who talked about raising children; wish i remembered his name. He said that if a friend was at your house and she dropped some food on the floor, would you start yelling at her --or hit her?
    i told the story to my children because i wanted them to know kindness was important to children--and friends
    We had been places where parents were screaming at their children.

  16. Blow cites a study that claims correlation - not causation. They really don't know if spanking is effective or not.

  17. I was raised in the south where the portion of the scripture,"spare the rod,spoil the child" was quoted with regularity. Sarah Palin is a staunch opponent to the gov't telling us our children should eat healthier. If she wanted to feed her children junk food 100% of the time then it was her right. Is this also a form of child abuse? No child should suffer abuse but more people are weighing in on this than the death of Treyvon Martin.

  18. It is effective- in negative terms. Ask how many people in prison were spanked as children if you really want to know. 100%?

  19. Causation is not needed to understand a phenomena. Here's a theory: spanking is necessary to raise good, healthy and productive citizens (three measures often cited to be important positive attributes). Here's one piece of evidence (which is all that is needed) to disprove that theory: good, healthy and productive citizens can be raised without spanking (fact). So, we know that spanking (and other forms of abuse) are not necessary. What additional evidence do you need?

  20. I think of spanking as several controlled slaps on a child's rear end with a bare hand. It is debatable as to whether or not this is an acceptable disciplinary method.

    Peterson whipped his four-year-old with a branch until the child bled. To my mind, this is a vicious beating that constitutes child abuse. Peterson was clearly reckless and out of control, and what he did went well beyond what I'd define as a spanking.

  21. Indeed!

  22. Not debatable.

  23. Think of what your child must feel during and as a result of your
    "several controlled slaps". Think of how you would feel if someone slapped you in the same way as an adult. You wouldn't accept that. You wouldn't put up with it. But your child has no way to defend himself. You are simply an example of a bully masquerading as a "concerned" parent and teaching your child to be a bully. It is no wonder we are dysfunctional society.
    Bravo to those individuals who escape your idea of parenting.

  24. That any modern rational parent could conclude that hitting or striking their child for any reason, most especially meting out punishment to a child who may have not the remotest understanding of how they had transgressed or upset the adult is mindless child abuse. Excuses for physical punishment of children, including that the parent was similarly punished is not an excuse. In fact that any parent could even articulate a justification for taking a switch or a belt or a bare hand to a child as an act of punishment should be punished as assault and battery to the fullest extent of the law.

    My Dad was the second youngest of eleven children, born in 1906. The first six were girls and then came five boys. None were ever physically punished or abused. My Dad continued the tradition successfully with his six kids. My two sons never experienced physical punishment and are now 39 and 36 year old highly successful, well educated, still great athletes, and married to great young women and I have one grandchild, a year old yesterday who will be the fourth generation to be brought up with love, pride and respect.

  25. Perhaps the appropriate punishment for a child-beater (or a wife-beater for that matter) would entail being beaten in a similiar way by someone a whole lot bigger- and tougher- than the offending party. Nah; I suppose that wouldn't be feasible (it would, after all, place society at large on the same level as the abuser), but it sure would make him think twice about repeating his offense.

  26. ... or not, considering that corporal punishment and other forms of abuse are handed down through the generations... One might argue that it could well make the person even more inclined to offend. It's a vicious cycle.

  27. Why on earth would society punish an abuser by abusing him? All that would do is perpetuate the cycle of violence. It would in no way deter the abuser, but anger him (or her) further to take out that anger on someone weaker. Someone handy. Like a child. The reasoning would be, "You're the reason I got punished, so you deserve to be punished too." The only lesson learned? Next time, hide the bruises better.

  28. Sharia law? Brilliant!

  29. Children can also be punished by making them feel stupid or worthless, and never letting them win an argument even when they are right. Verbal abuse and game-playing can be as harmful and destructive as physical abuse, especially because it is much harder for a child to figure out what is going on or how to deal with it.

    Many successful people have grown up with parents who were impossible in various ways, and some were stronger and more resilient because of it even though siblings may have suffered permanent harm.

    Our emphasis should be on abuse in general rather than on only one form of it. Physical abuse is easier to educate about; Peterson had apparently not thought through his childrearing practices and beliefs and investigated other possible ways to get the results he wanted. Now he has started to do this, and perhaps he will go further.

  30. Verbal abuse can cause psychological pain. However, if doesn't create the fearfulness caused by physical violence.

  31. Oh yes it can, if the words are harsh enough and the child is sensitive.

  32. Not only children. Many abused women are not necessarily physically abused, but psychologically. The hurt is the same, even as it manifests itself differently.

  33. Perhaps this is not relevant here and to the honest, I skimmed what sounds like a case of 'child abuse'. Others will address this more directly. Just finished reading what Orwell had to say about discipline at school and the matter of caning, along with other indignities that were meant to 'break a boy's spirit'. This method was passed on the older pupils who then took it out on the youngest. To cut to the chase, it was enough to set one's hair on fire. Perhaps one might add that we have come a long way since.

    Called a friend once because I saw on the news a 5-year old girl at day school being handcuffed by a big policeman. She was throwing a temper tantrum. He confirmed that this happened on occasion, and that many new laws had come into effect since our young days. Then a cab driver told me recently how his 5 year-old son had fallen down the stairs. He was fine, but his wife and he were hesitant to take him to the doctor, because they might be questioned about the injury and bruises. Understood.

    In my day, a spanking was humiliating although rare, but effective in my case. I believe every one was deserved with the exception of a memorable
    one that I have wondered about on occasion. It might make for a short story called 'The Spanking', and the element of a child betrayed.

    All of my peers when toddlers would have a rare spanking, but few today use this practice on their own. As for 'Overboard', it is in the hands of the law where it now belongs.

  34. i was going to say that parents need to use words to communicate with their children.... but then I saw how Adrian Peterson spoke in his interview and he clearly hasn't a clue how to use words

  35. How is kicking Peterson or any other parent who overdoes punishment, especially when what they do is not as yet against the law going to help either the parent or the child? Are we not allowed to learn of the hard lessons?

  36. SFR, child abuse is against the law!

  37. SFR " How is kicking Peterson...going to help either the parent or the child? Are we not allowed to learn of the hard lessons? " What??? Kicking Petersen? What hard lessons? Say what you mean or think again. Allowing cruelty to go unpunished encourages cruelty.

  38. I was spanked by my father from nine months old to about 14 years old. As I grew older, maybe by 4 or 5 it was always with a belt or other object. Left marks, physical and emotional. Beaten for every little infraction. I was a very quiet, shy child. I do not remember what I possibly could have done to deserve such abuse. Yes, I do feel ALL hitting is abuse. I have contemporaries who joke and laugh about spankings. It enrages me to no end whenever I listen to these people. I feel there is absolutely no reason to hit a child. None. I still, after all thse years, feel angry and upset and humiliated about the abuse and find it difficult to talk about it even now. Btw, the majority of people I met in the psych wards had been spanked, beaten really by teachers, parents, etc. They all said one of the reasons for depression was the abuse. I don't care if your great-great-great grandfather spanked their children. No excuse for continuing it. If you can't hit an adult, you should not hit a child either. It is too easy to go overboard, especially in anger. Who really just mildly swats a child, anyway? I never met anyone who said they were mildly spanked, even those who joke about the spankings.

  39. Norton, my heart goes out to you. No child deserves to go through what you went through. But I also feel you are taking your situation and externalizing its extremity to all situations. I grew up in a single mother home at a time when spankings were considered good. I was spanked twice in my life - both times when I had done something very egregiously wrong and my mother determined that a spanking was called for. Neither spanking was over the top and I in reflecting years later, I do believe I learned some lessons from it. As a parent myself, one of my children received 2 spankings, the other none (not because of favoritism, but one did something egregiously wrong twice in their life and the other didn't). There is a time and place for such discipline. I do not believe it belongs in schools (I am a teacher and believe that using that form of discipline is not a teacher's right, but a parent's) and I do not believe that it should be a regular feature of disciplining children of any age. I guess I don't look at all spankings as abuse, but again, I have never been in your position. Just wanted to share the thoughts of someone on the other side.

  40. Yours is a powerful story. Thank you for the courage it must take to tell it. We who read it benefit.

  41. I was mildly spanked, in New England, as a kid. Probably about once, one swat to the butt to get my attention. After that, my parents had my attention for good. I did not live in fear, and I misbehaved about the normal amount for my age. There was no joking about spanking during my childhood. It is possible to spank without it being child abuse, but there are definitely equally good ways to redirect or correct, depending on the age of the child.

  42. Why are there no comments to this column? I am white and have never hit my child and so I do not feel I have the expertise or frame of reference to comment, but I want others to do so. This is a huge issue and should be discussed openly and frankly.

  43. I am a child of the sixties. All four of my grandparents migrated from four separate southern states during the great migration to Ohio. I grew up knowing about switches and the use in disciplining children. Personally, I was never whooped with a switch, but I know those with southern roots are familiar with that type of discipline. Did I utilize switches on my now grown , daughter, no. But she did receive spankings. Spankings occurred very rarely and only as a last resort. Discipline has to be assessed for each individual child and by age. Should an 18 month old be spanked, no. Its called redirection. Its difficult raising children and we as parents have to make sure we guide them, love them and encourage them to fly and soar as eagles eagerly do.

  44. If you hit an adult it is battery. If you hit a child it is discipline.

    A good thing turns into a bad thing on the same day a child turns 18?

  45. or gets big enough to hit you back?

  46. The thought that so many people believe physical punishment is an acceptable practice is really disheartening.
    We are a violent society and not much will change if all children grow up with violence and think this is acceptable.
    I have two kids and read multiple books on child rearing and every single one that I read describes the psychological damage that you can do to a child with violence and mental abuse.
    I really want a more peaceful inclusive society so maybe we should do what Sweden has done.

  47. Well said.

  48. All written by the therapy industry.

  49. Not only should we do what Sweden does in terms of child-rearing and education practices, we should also investigate their humane system of rehabilitating, not exacting revenge on, criminal offenders in their prison system.

  50. Adrian Peterson came up the hard way. A good, old- fashion "switching" was what he believed his pushy son needed to be reminded about how to behave in public. This "son," whom the Vikings' signature face attacked, apparently failed to take into account that, as his switch rose and fell on the boy's body, he was doing far more harm to the child than to draw blood, raise welts, and leave scars. Mr. Peterson may have ruined his "son" for life because he attacked a child's self-esteem. A four-year old child is not capable of sorting out behavioral opposites to reach a judicious balance especially in such a trivial matter as playing a video game. I am equally troubled by the published accounts which portray Mr. Peterson as a father to many children by several women. I don't see how a man can love several children he leaves to be raised without becoming directly lovingly and emotionally involved in a child 's formative years--except when it comes to violent discipline. That Mr. Peterson was just passing onto his "son" what was done to him is the rote, unthinking, uncaring way a man behaves when he has other fertile fields to sow without a care for the damage he has left behind.

  51. I remember reading a biography of the artist-poet David Wojnarowicz and how he and his siblings were wandering around, obviously beaten up badly and locked out by abusive parents, and no one would dare do or say anything. That's the way it was in those days. This was suburban Long Island in the early '60s, by the way.

  52. Like anything complicated, good parenting takes compassion (which Peterson presumably has) AND thoughtfulness, patience, and intelligence (some of which he may have). But, while spanking is easy and satisfies some emotional need in some parents, it clearly isn't effective, as simple reflection will confirm.

    When you act around a child (never mind ON a child), he sees and learns. Children adapt. They discern borders and effective responses. They will learn enough about how best to avoid another beating, while they are also learning that violence is natural, effective (as far as they can see), and gets one what one wants in the short term. They become angrier inside, and more prone to violence themselves - and thus less capable of success in society.

    I don't pretend to be wise enough to know if spanking should be a crime. I just know that parents shouldn't do it.

  53. Two important points deliberately ignored.
    1) Any culture that is different than yours is automatically bad and must be condemned
    2) Most "spaking" studies deliberately mislead by categorizing all categories of physical abuse as "spaking".

  54. I had two kids; I never laid a hand on either of them. You don't need to be violent to discipline a child. So from my point of view, anyone who harms a child in the name of discipline is a sadist. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Oh, one more thing. It looks like this cop in Ferguson is going to walk.

  55. Abin, Not all children are like yours.

  56. I have thought a lot about this. A friend removed lilac bushes from his yard because his mother used to beat him with a lilac branch switch. I think corporal punishment may be more pervasive in the American south and I wonder sometimes about the legacy of slavery and the physical violence that entailed as part of the system -the legacy for black and white Americans.

    I am not being self righteous but I remember being with my parents once and my 2 year old was doing something and my mother was, like, "aren 't you going to spank her?" I swatted her bottom and she looked at me like I was crazy. I outweighed her by over a hundred pounds. I can't be self righteous as I did my share of yelling and had just one child.
    And I think I may have slapped her hand once when she ran into the street.

    I am glad you are having this conversation and am curious as to what commenters will say. I remember my years as a school social worker in a Detroit. Parents worried about their kids and how best to outfit them for a very harsh world. Parents would tell me they felt that their children needed to be tough to survive in their environs. It is good to get out any information available on how to raise children under very stressful conditions.

  57. I'm not a psychologists but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some links to young men being beaten or abused as a child and the fact that many, as adults turn that abuse against their spouse.

    I'm not arguing a one to one causal relationship. Our minds are complex and many factors, such as our culture of violence can influence male behavior in relationships.

    But when a child is hit what they quickly learn that the conflict between them and the parent was settled by power, control and violence. Years later, when the inevitable conflicts occur between partners this same power and control impulse returns, too often with the devastating figures that we now see about how frequent spousal abuse is in our society.

  58. I also raised one (wonderful) son without ever laying a hand on him. His father slapped him once, when he became hysterical at a children recital - we neglected to tell him that the lights go off when the show starts, and the poor two year-old was scared.
    Moreover - we never punished our son. He always knew what was asked of him and why, and he did it. Again, it may have been a fluke, and, cowardly, we decided to stop while the going was good and not have more children.
    When our son started school, for instance, we told him that we have our jobs and that his job would be to go to school and do his homework. We never had to check on him. He even wrote his college applications on his own.
    Many times we asked for, and took, his advice. I think that made him feel mature and wise. I recommend it.

  59. I disagree. I man who beats his wife is born with an uncontrolable BAD temper and needs Phsychiatric help. They are BORN abusive.

  60. Before we-the-public vilify Adrian Peterson any more, we need to step back and remember that there's a small child involved here, who probably loves and looks up to his famous Daddy. This situation isn't the same as the big story last week involving the elevator video.
    During my work as a Child Protection Social Worker in Minnesota, I always educated the parents about more positive child-rearing practices but at the same time always reinforced their parent=child relationship.
    Mr. Peterson has already acknowledged his difficulties and agreed to get help to improve his parenting. In my experience, that means a lot! His relationship with his son needs to be mediated privately with people who are trained to be helpful, not the public.
    Children love their parents, imperfect as they may be. We need to support them, not vilify them.

  61. Mr Peterson got caught. He has millions of reasons to profess remorse. His belief in punishment that is swift, violent, excruciatingly painful should help him understand a jail sentence and a tanked career.

  62. Alas, your comments demonstrate the attitude of Child "Protection" Services just about everywhere, whose sole goal is to keep the family together at all costs. I heard one such social worker pronounce that "A bruise will heal, but being taken from the family is the greater ill." Given that mindset, the child will be repeatedly returned to his abusive parents, who claim to have been rehabilitated, until at last the child is murdered by "discipline", which is exactly what happened in that case and why she was on TV, defending her department's policies.

    There are many people who should never be parents. Once that has been proven, such as beating a child on his legs and his genitals until he bled, then yes, they should be vilified and punished to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, the abusers are coddled and the children die.

    The policy of "preserving the family" is long overdue to be scrapped. As a Child Protection social worker, you are supposed to protect the child, not the abuser.

  63. Regardless of one's belief on whether spanking is ever helpful or acceptable as discipline, there is a big difference between a controlled, open-handed swat, and use of a weapon, such as a switch or belt, to strike a child to the point of breaking skin. He skinned the kid's scrotum. I wonder what the repercussions are for a child who associates his private parts with violence.

    The most disturbing thing I've seen around this is the number of teammates and other athletes interviewed who defended Peterson's behavior as a simple cultural difference that results from growing up in the South. Maybe it is selective interviewing or editing, but it seems somebody in those interviews should be sticking up for this 4 year old child. It makes me sick. We need to do something about the idiotic football culture that has become so dominant in this country.

  64. Spanking children, so heartily defended in the US? We're just a nation of bullies, pure and simple. And how does Mr. Peterson quantify "the success (he enjoys) as a man"? When he is no longer a Celebrity Athelete, where will that "success" be manifest?

    No wonder we want to jail immigrant children- no wonder we have such an appetite for endless war, and approve of militarized police forces. Total lack of empathy, with supposed role models as our guides. I am truly ashamed.

  65. Thank you, Mr. Blow. Child health experts have studied the issue extensively and come to the same conclusions as you.

    "Extensive research demonstrates that although corporal punishment may have a high rate of immediate behavior modification, it is ineffective over time, and is associated with increased aggression and decreased moral internalization of appropriate behavior. " - policy statement of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Policy_Statements/2012/Policy_Statement_on_Co...

    "Corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects." - policy statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/101/4/723.long)

    That the majority of people in this country agree that there is such a thing as a "good hard spanking" is a result of the violent culture of this country, as well as a mechanism of its reproduction.

    Facts of child development are one thing; beliefs of the majority of Americans are a separate phenomenon unrelated to the fact that spanking is harmful to children.

  66. I can testify from personal experience as a child that those studies are BOGUS. Corporal punishment when administered properly as a last resort is effective.

  67. The fear of the child being ‘lost to the streets’ ---could that be a projection of the white disapproval that blacks have been subjected to over time, that they then transfer onto the black child? Extra discipline, so they don’t end up bad, and justify the white negative stereotypes? Negative attitudes of racial superiority doubtless have many effects, conscious and unconscious on both races.

    Parents will sincerely feel they love their kids and want the best for them, even when they mistreat them. It's cognitive dissonance, and they resist contradiction.

  68. I think one of the problems here is in the use of the word "spanking" I never hit my children at all, but to MANY people spanking means an open hand hitting a child's backside two or three times. Not a switch causing bleeding. The same people who approve of or deliver the first kind of "spanking" would be horrified by the second.

    I'm not saying that there is not a huge overuse of corporal punishment in many families, or that it can turn easily into abuse,

    But even as a parent who would never have DONE it I think that lumping all forms of corporal punishment under the term "spanking" is confusing and inflates the rates of positive responses to the question of it's use.

    Do you use a belt or switch on your child? Might be a more reasonable way to phrase that question. I sincerely hope that 94% of parents would NOT respond yes to that.

  69. This may help: If you're trying to figure out if a given punishment is ok for your child, ask yourself if you would do it to a pet, or if someone else did it to your pet, would you be okay with that?

    If someone beat my dog with a stick until his legs bled, stuffed leaves in his mouth, and bragged that he "got him in the nuts," this person would never again come near my dog (that's assuming I didn't actually call the police). So I kinda think it's not ok to do to a child, either.

  70. Comparing a child to a pet is an insult and degrading to the child. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  71. Frankly, what was going on with Peterson was not spanking, not even by a far stretch of the word. It was whipping, and it was intended to hurt. There are so many people who want to call this spanking to try to make it sound less harmful. My comments have nothing to do with being against corporal punishment, but children should not be beaten nor whipped. The beating and whipping is a reflection of the parent's state of being, and their own lack of ability to work with another person, such as a child.

    I would wager that the child copies the parent(s) and thus acts "bad" and gets a so-called spanking for acting like the parent.

    Spanking? No, abuse that many condone, but abuse never the less.

  72. I can always remember my Dad's response when I asked him why we were not spanked as children over 50 years ago. He said, "if you start with the hand, and it doesn't work then the next alternative is the belt or switch. If those don't work what's next, the baseball bat?"

    Some people try to motivate and discipline people out of fear…the spanking, the belt, the intimidation. My parents decided to go with motivating by showing love, and not what is often misnamed as tough love. Tough love tends to focus on "I know what's best for you, regardless." Instead, I'm talking about a love that is patient and kind. A love of verbal communication that respects feelings, needs, and circumstances; realizing that at times mistakes are made by kids and adults and allowing a cooling down time for both before deciding upon consequences. Sure, there is still anger, but happily, this approach has worked with our kids, too, without any spankings, beatings, or switches.

  73. Remember the phrase "This is going to hurt me a lot more than it's going to hurt you. What? I was turned in by my best friend to social services when I hit my child and could not stop. There is escalation and anger whether it's from past abuse or not. It was the kindest thing she could have done for me and my child. I actually didn't know how to discipline in any other way than I had been treated myself. I worked with social services (in this instance they were invaluable), and learned not only other ways to discipline, but I never hit my child again under any circumstances.

  74. "This is going to hurt me a lot more than you" is one of those tough love phrases that is anything but love. Glad to hear things turned out well for you.

  75. That's a very decent friend. And I know you. Not causing harm is rule number one, toward children, family, friends or anyone.

  76. I was physically abused by my 5th grade teacher because he incorrectly assumed I was like my older brother. I wasn't. But every day he take me outside the classroom, grab my shirt and slam me against the wall. The short of it was my dad put an end to it. But for me it wasn't over mentally. 9 years later when I was 19 I saw him at the mall. I was lifting seriously so I was pretty big. When he saw me he was scared. And the 19 year old couldn't rescue the 10 year old. We had a confrontation he really didn't enjoy. And I thought that settled it. But I let that monster stay in my head for a long time until I realized it was only harming me and no one else.
    I was slapped, hit, et and as a parent I just couldn't do it and I never did. We figured out what items that meant the most and we'd take them for 2,3 7 days. I just couldn't inflict the kind of pain my teacher put on me.

    I think that's one reason I worked in the juvenile prison system. So many had suffered abuse. As a parole agent I had to read their files so I read it in detail.
    My singular goal with these people is to help them understand that they didn't have to be that way, that to a point it's a choice no matter what happened.
    I helped them to channel their anger in positive ways. Focus on goals that would help them prepare for life outside. Lift weights. Work with young kids so they could help them reach their potential and realize that their goals were not dead, just dormant. I tried to change that.

  77. In a way, it may be a good thing that "whooping" is brought to light by such a famous athlete. Everyone is talking about appropriate discipline. Families that once upheld the "whooping" tradition, passed down from generations, using switches and belts and rulers, may find the rationale, the reasons, to break what was taught, and discipline with more patience, and less violence.

  78. I, too, am mad about his legs. And his back. And his scrotum. And his face. And his arms. And his ankles. And his buttocks. And his hands, which reportedly had defensive wounds. This precious little four-year-old-boy was fighting off his own father with nothing to protect him but his hands.

    Jail time?


    If he did this to a grown man he'd never met before, there would be no question that this person needs to suffer the consequences of his actions. Why would we consider anything less because it's his own little boy?

    We do not hit people, of any age or gender, except in self-defense. (I refuse to use the term "spanking." It's hitting or striking your child. That's wrong.) No exceptions. The only person who was justified to hit anyone was that little boy, who could do nothing other than hold up his hands. If this man doesn't get serious jail time, we turn our backs on that little boy, alone in a room with a man intent on destruction. He has the resources to pay for counseling and an attorney. What resources did this little boy have? Only his hands.

  79. Well spoken. Thanks.

  80. Flogging was outlawed in this country in 1972 and not been used as a punishment for adults since 1952. Why, if being beaten is considered too barbaric for adults, is it still okay to inflict this on our children?

  81. Peterson was merely repeating the same behavior that was practiced on him by his role models, and others, for thousands of years before. The dictates for this behavior come from 2,500 year-old Judeo-Christian tribal dictates: "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." Proverb 13:24 That's the license for child abuse. They also did that to donkeys 2,500 years ago! Yet with all the growth and development humankind has progressed in that time, many, unquestionably, still follow those "guidelines" for primitive humanity.

    How about: "This also I assert, that children ought to be led to honourable practices by means of encouragement and reasoning, and most certainly not by blows or ill-treatment, for it surely is agreed that these are fitting rather for slaves than for the freeborn..." Plutarch 1st century Greek Historian

  82. No, that's not the license for child abuse; it has been the excuse for child abuse. Jewish tradition has always understood 'rod' in that context to mean a shepherd's tool: "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

  83. As a psychologist who works with adults, I have seen the long-term impact of these types of beatings and abuse that occur in children. Healing from this kind of family history usually involves long-term psychotherapy. Any parent who thinks they are building good character and self-discipline by doing this is just ignorant.

    I am glad Mr. Peterson found a psychologist to teach him proper parenting skills. It's sad that parents are not required to take classes, learn skills, and do continuing education until age 18. All the terrible parents keep me in business but frankly I would much rather be out of business by having all parents be required to get training and a license or something that ensures they have a clue before they damage these innocent children.

  84. I have long believed that there should be some kind of education/license/permit to create and bring up a child. I have no idea how such a plan could be implemented, especially what to do with all the "unlicensed parents" that would result.

  85. You only see the adults who are severely beaten and remember it enough to use it as their narrative to explain their adult problems. Adults who got over milder corporal punishment (or worse) don't become your patients and don't complain of it.

  86. Agreed, and that's why I believe that child development should be taught in place of the mechanics of sex-ed at earlier ages.

    There will be no way to license parenting in the US, so we might think about teaching good parenting skills before kids are biologically able to make a child. If kids knew exactly how much thought and self-restraint is required to raise happy, well-adjusted adults, perhaps there would be fewer babies having babies. And perhaps they could break the cycle of child abuse and neglect before it begins.

  87. Read the language used in Peterson's texts vs the language used in "Peterson released a statement that read..."

    If his handlers would put as much energy into getting him appropriate parental counseling as they have into ghostwriting for him so that he might come across to the public as a thoughtful reflective man who understands and regrets his violent actions--into making him palatable and salable to the public and able to get back onto the football field--I might be able to have hope for the guy. Instead, all I see is a whitewashing and a sad future for his children.

  88. Spanking a child is the result of a person's frustration and anger. It is not a tool of discipline. Cold calculated spanking is just as bad as spanking in anger.
    It is considered in our society cruel and unusual punishment to beat people who have committed crimes. Why is it permissible to hit a child.

  89. Or terror. My daughter got popped once, hard, on the butt, with my open hand, when she ran into the street and narrowly missed being hit by a car. A much more effective and memorable lesson for a toddler than gentle reasoning. "Better that the child should cry now, than the parent should cry later." I'm not a fan of spanking--we don't--but wishy-washy parenting is dangerous too. (And PS, if a toddler's never slipped out of your reach, you probably aren't a parent.)

  90. Well said.

  91. Whatever you think of it, putting the word "spanking" in the same story and context as beating a preschooler bloody with a tree limb is just obscene.


  92. If Adrian Peterson had beat an adult this severely, he would be in prison.

    Adrian Peterson should be in prison.

  93. Except what is prison, but the larger hand of society also spanking an individual.

    If change and growth/ rehabilitation (not revenge) is the desired result of applying legal consequences to an individual, prison seems like the worst place to do that.

    I don't know what the consequence should be, but here are some ideas:

    Perhaps Mr. Peterson should instead be changing diapers for, and exercising children who are now comatose due to parental abuse. Perhaps Mr. Peterson should be forced into a DMT trip to confront his own broken-ness. Perhaps he should spend a (heavily supervised) community-service year working in a pre-school, so he can witness and absorb better techniques for dealing with willful kids.

  94. As someone who has been spanked as a child and has spanked as an adult, I have this to say.

    I clearly remember being spanked when I was young. I was quite scared of being spanked, but the spankings themselves never instilled any discipline whatsoever. I swore I'd never spank my children. Many years later I found out that my father made the same oath. I frustrated him a lot, I'm afraid.

    I also remember the first time I spanked a child, when I lived with a woman who routinely spanked her little boy. When I spanked him, I was angry, frustrated or both. Him? He was clearly scared of getting spanked.

    I live with a couple of children now, both mine, each very trying in their own ways. Despite my oath, I have spanked the older one once and the younger one about three times--each time with warnings given beforehand, each time a single light swat with the minimum force needed to send a message to Stop That. Am I proud of this? Absolutely not, but I will own up to what I've done.

    Spankings don't instill discipline. They instill fear, which parents hope will scare kids into disciplined ways. In rare circumstances they may be the most useful and effective way to keep someone from doing something dangerous. Even then, spanking should be approached with the discipline of a martial art: it should not be used in anger, it should be used as rarely as possible, and you should use the absolute bare minimum needed.

    Anything else isn't love. It's painful and scary.

  95. I have a friend who spanked his children on occasion but never when he was angry. He would send them to their room and after he cooled off and regained control of himself, he would go to their room, calmly sit down on the bed beside the child he was going to punish then explain what the child did wrong and why he/she was going to be spanked. Once the explanation was over, he would turn the child across his lap and give the child no more than 4 licks with his hand on the clothed bottom. Once the child finished crying he would talk with them letting them know he loved them. To this day (they are adults) they deeply love and respect their father.

  96. I, too, will own up to it.

    I was spanked with wooden spoons and belts until I learned to put a book in my pants beforehand. My mother opened my mouth to dig her thumbnail into the flesh under my tongue so that she could squirt a mouthful of Dawn dishsoap in there for swearing. I was slapped, pushed, and had a shirt torn off me in the middle of a subdivision intersection. My father pushed my brother down a set of stairs and broke his arm.

    Despite this abuse, I have spanked one of my step-kids, and only once when I caught him holding his younger brother's head in a hand and repeatedly slamming brother's face into a bedpost; his face was bloodied and purple when I found them. I took the offending kid's pants down, bent him over the bed, and spanked his bare butt with an open hand about 5 times.

    I still regret it, despite how horrific the reason for the spanking (it really was, with a pool of blood on the bed...)

  97. You know, there are at least two articles in the Times today regarding the beating of children. It strikes me as amazing that we are talking about this in the 21st century, and that people are defending, even praising, the practice.

    I was beaten bloody when I was a child, a knotted rope was my mother's favorite instrument, and my father would sit there in the corner, like a statue, with his hands folded, and let it happen.

    And all it did was to make me wish for the day when I was big enough to defend myself. That's all.

    Both of my parents are dead now, and the world's better off without them. Is that the way you want your kids to think about you, child whipping parents?

  98. Indeed. Well said.

  99. I was beaten by my father for no reason other than that he was having one of his temper tantrums. His inconsistency and violence were terrifying and contributed to my general insecurity. I learned to hate him and was not unhappy when he died in a car accident when I turned 12. That led to guilt and more insecurity.

    There will be those who will say "How can you say such bad things about your own parents?" Those who criticize us just haven't been there. They don't know the incredible sadness of hating your own parents.

  100. Coporal punishment, when used in context and within limits can be effective without negative reprecussions to a childs psyche. As a child, when I was caught doing something that could have endangered myself or another or displayed an inappropriate behavior my parents parented. I received a spanking. I cried. Mom and Dad explained why it happened and gave me a hug and a kiss and I never repeated action or behavior. As an adult I'm well adjusted, I'm not an alcoholic, I've never abused small animals and I've never had a run in with the law. Far too often I see "parents" trying to reason with their toddlers only to have to have the same conversation over and over with them with no results. The children know there are no consequences to their actions so there is no motivation to amend their behavior. They end up running amok with no respect for their parents or any other adult or authority figure. That being said, drawing blood on a four year old is abuse plain and simple. It is not the discipline of a loving parent trying to teach right from wrong and it should not be tolerated from anyone, NFL star or otherwise. As this seems to be a pattern within his family, his parental rights should be dissolved and the chain of abuse hopefully broken. But I fear, like the unruly child with ineffectual parents there will be few true consequences to his actions and he will repeat the behavior over and over. Pity.

  101. I remember visiting my country, the Dominican Republic, and I went to visit my grandmothers neighbor to say hello, i think i was like 9-10, this was about 12 years ago. Out of nowhere the neighbors grandson, he's about 1-2 years younger than me, came out with a "switch" (switches are used all the time in DR) and he hit me, like twice on the face. I dont even know what i did to the kid, his grandmother was like you're staying here until his mother gets home to me. His mother comes home, his grandmother tells her the story. I have never in my life experienced anything like this. His mother goes to the back of the house and takes their prepared bunch of switches, i guess they use it a lot. she told her kid that he has 5 seconds to get ahead of her because when she gets him she's going to beat him. she took with me her! all over the neighborhood, and the kid is just running around trying to get away from her. i felt so horrible, i felt sick. i had to let go of her hand so i can go back to my grandmother. later that night, his mother called me over to their house, the kid just came out of the shower, he had a towel on, and all i saw were those red, bulging marks from where he was whipped. she made him apologize to me, he did. i didn't even know what to say, but after that day he never ever once looked at me, or disrespected me. That was a horrible punishment. i still feel guilty about it, i would've been ok with an apology from the beginning. Switches hurt like hell.

  102. Scarred old slaver knows he's doing alright
    Hear him whip the women just around midnight
    - "Brown Sugar"

  103. It strikes me that Mr. Peterson may now be amenable to finding productive, non-violent ways to address his children's behavior, but he hasn't let go of a narrative regarding his own family, that they used physical punishment to his benefit. I'd wager this is an explanation he heard while growing up and relinquishing it would mean lowering his estimation of his parents.

  104. Sometimes it takes a long time to realize what happened to us children and how it affected our lives as adults. Possibly our parents are dead and if they weren't they wouldn't understand
    their lack of parenting skills even if we could discuss them. It's a crapshoot.

  105. It seems obvious to me that beating a child (please spare us that old tired old false euphemism "spanking") only teaches the child that violence is an acceptable, even exemplary way to behave. What physical punishment really constitutes is a parent's lazy and ignorant way of taking his or her frustrations, anger, and, yes, psychotic behavior out on a small defenseless child. if it is illegal to beat a child who is not your own, why is it legal to beat your own child? Those who justify beating a child by calling it "tradition" would do well to consider that slavery was once a tradition in America. And your children are not your chattel. There are some traditions that are just too horrific and soul-crushing to uphold anymore, and terrorizing a child in the name of "discipline" is one of them.

  106. While I never felt the hand of discipline, I spanked my children. Although not often, memory dredges a part of my psyche that I never understood and still don't. I didn't think of myself as a bully, but if not bullying, I have no explanation.
    What I have come to appreciate is that any form of corporal punishment, at any age, is not the way to engage. Kids, especially, don't begin to understand physical monologues.

  107. Spare the rod and spoil the child was once a phrase that was commonly used by many people of another generation. It, like many other phrases, is open to wide interpretation as to its implementation. However, I doubt people of the Greatest Generation, who that phrase was associated with, would be anything but appalled by Peterson's actions. That action would be considered by people of that generation to be aberrant and criminal behavior. For Blow now to compare Peterson's savagery to people who spank their child with an open hand is a typical liberal overreach.

  108. "Use of corporal punishment is linked to negative outcomes for children."

    Linkage is not causation. People who resport to corporal punish are highly unlikely to appreciate much less act upon the crucial importance to brain development of how they interact with their newborns in the first six months following their birth.

    The real causal relationship is between 1. continually talking to newborns in 'motherese' throughout their first six months and 2 development of the brain architecture necessary for children to speak,read, write, reason  -  and grow up to be well-adjusted, responsible, healthy citizens who are prepared for the challenges of the future.


  109. It's naive, I think, to beleive children raised in good, understanding, and well provided environments, who seldom, or never, present behavioral problems and cause no motivation for corporal punishment, are an example that everyone can follow in choosing to refrain from it. That argument strikes me as mere bragging about one's parenting skills, and the time, and wherewithal to provide that parenting. It's not an accurate picture of the broader reality of parenting in America.

    Measured corporal punishment, for age appropriate children, accomplishes one thing : it communicates that our society has limits, beyond which punishment may be exacted on one's body. It cautions that laws will be enforced, ultimately. It teaches that, as an adult, crimes may be met with deadly force, not a simple time out. And that capital punishment awaits those who disrespect our most guarded social covenents.

    Children don't, and aren't expected to, understand these concepts. It's a simpler precept : excessively bad behavior equals physical pain, shame, and humiliation. And it's effective, when appropriately, and not excessively, administered.

    I wish commentary around this subject didn't drag in physical abusers (eg: causing blood to flow) as examples of corporal punishment. Abuse is abuse. And I wish commenters would not purposefully confuse the subject by talking about corporal punishment of cognitively impaired children. (Another form of abuse.)

  110. This is simply not true. Think about it - a large adult human (who this child depends upon to survive) hitting or in any way inflicting physical pain on their small child. It just teaches them to fear and distrust all humans at a very deep level. You are so wrong.

  111. No it doesn't when administered properly.

  112. There is no excuse for what Peterson did, and he should be punished and his visits with the kids should be supervised.

    But I would also like to offer a way of explanation, though, so that by better understanding where his attitude comes from, we can address it better--less sanctimoniously and more effectively, perhaps.

    You see, I was disciplined with words as a child, but it wasn't gentle. It was strict and guilt-based, with words. My mom was a great mom and she instilled in me a sense of morality. She told the truth and to this day, I can't help but feel that her strict parenting helped me go from working to middle class.

    Peterson did not live a particularly hard life compared to some, but he lived in a poor town growing up and likely saw those who didn't make it. I imagine his attitude is similar to mine (regarding better discipline): "It was this kind of discipline that made me the person who I am. I made it. Without a whooping, who know who I would have become. I can't risk that with my kids. I have to make them strong like I got strong."

    You see, a lot of poor and formerly poor people don't think that easily turn out okay. They see failures every day, so they do what worked for them. Health advice changes. Parenting advice changes. Statistics are misleading. Nothing works for everyone, so they do what they know.

    Does this excuse Peterson's actions? No way. But addressing the root cause of people's beliefs might be a good place to start change.

  113. A majority of kids born prior to 1970, I would think, faced some type of corporal punishment as children. This is particularly true for anyone raised in a rural area or who had traditional parents who adhered to more fundamentalist, Christian beliefs.

    Hitting confuses the child. Why are you hitting me if you say you love me? How can you hit me so hard so many times and still love me?

    I was spanked for a period as a child and I resented it, strongly. There was one memorable time when my father chased me, age 7, around the outside of our house with an electrical cord in his hand. I had been playing with a stick with the end burning, pretending it was a train or something. He told me once and then he took after me. The hitting was not as bad as the general terror of the situation, the fear of not knowing how much of his rage would be visited on me.

    In raising our daughter, I quickly decided that hitting proved and accomplished nothing. There were better forms of communication and we even learned that after such mild punishments, we could also comfort her in her sadness and disappointment. We, her parents, drew ever closer by understanding and accepting her tears and letting her know she was loved just as much after misbehaving in some way. There was no attempt at shunning or isolation.

    I have seen other parents hitting their children, both here and in France, and it is sickening. It is unnecessary, ineffective and counter productive and needs to be driven from our society.

  114. Again, not all children are like your daughter.

  115. We all need to turn the corner and abandon "spanking" in any form. I'm tired of being told that there's a difference between spanking and abuse. I honestly believe there isn't. Certainly there are better ways to bring up our children without traumatizing them for life. Seeing the best in them and expecting the best in them is the beginning. Praising them for good work and good deeds is another. Expressing disappointment and yes even anger when they make mistakes is appropriate but should never be accompanied by physical abuse of any sort. I do hope that this national discussion of child abuse, caused by Peterson's repulsive and sadistic treatment of his little four year old son, will help us all to take a new outlook on bringing up all of our children. Let's remember the Golden Rule - it applies to all people including and especially our beloved children.

  116. "This seems, on its face, from what we now know, a case in which the limits have most likely been exceeded."

    Most likely? You can't be serious. Based on what you report as the facts, it should be CRIMINAL!!! It's child abuse, plain and simple. Beating up a child is NEVER ok in my book.

  117. Thank you. I came to this forum to post, essentially, this same response to the quoted text.

    Why "most likely," Mr. Blow?


    "Spanking is an age-old disciplinary technique, so turning the tide against it may be difficult. Some people even argue that it’s a necessary tool in a parent’s arsenal of options.

    I think we need to reconsider that."

    You "think" we need to reconsider that?

    Where, exactly, do you stand on this issue?

  118. Amazing, the political correctness around this. Adrian Peterson had another child - a son, beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend. If anyone with a head and heart were to understand why violence against children is a bad thing it should be this man. The day after his son was taken off life support Adrian Peterson played a game for the Vikings. Perhaps he should quit having children with a variety of women and consider the consequences and responsibility of being a better parent to the children he has.

  119. Nice job of distorting the facts. Adrian actually missed a game the Sunday before to stay with that son that was beaten by his stepfather. What he did with the switch was wrong but lets not resort to distorting the facts to make him look worse.

  120. I see a problem here of cultural differences colliding with an over-reactive media and a profit motivated corporate entity. If Ray Rice hadn't pummeled his wife on camera, and if the NFL's corporate sponsors hadn't started slipping away, Adrian Peterson would probably still be playing football, and spanking his child.

    However wrong it all is, spousal abuse, child abuse, it's all trial by media, which is a dangerous idea. You can't deny the fact that the NFL is reacting solely on what they think is going to benefit their bottom line.

    Why do we as a society need a profit minded mass media to set our standards? It all smacks of a gotcha mentality.

  121. Adrian Peterson did not "spank his child." He stripped off a four year old boy's (who really didn't know his father, but was spending a couple of weeks at his house) clothes, stuffed his mouth with leaves and whipped him with a switch so severly that the boy was still bleeding from his legs and genitals when he returned to his mother days later. Because the boy had pushed another boy off of an X Box game. You can find the photos on the internet if you are so inclined.

  122. Part of the problem seems to be a lack of trust for seeking advise from people who have verifiable knowledge. The Republicans, who claim government is bad and can't be trusted, are causing a lot of misguided people to look for answers in the wrong places. It has been many years, that government first published information from research stating that corporal punishment is detrimental. An abundance of information about better ways for discipline has been available for a long long time. In spite of the guidelines provided by the government, strong child abuse laws, and protective services advocating the abolition of child abuse, so many people ignore the established parameters. Instead, they decide they know better because government is incompetent. There is a lot of good information available but the republicans have campaigned for people to ignore good advice. Republicans spent millions advertising for people to forgo subsidized health insurance so they can be subject to fines, expensive doctor's bills, or bankruptcy if suffering a medical emergency. Some people will even follow the advice of lunatics claiming taxes are unconstitutional. When a college educated person beats a 4 year child, screaming for mercy, to a bloody mess, and insists they know better than experts, and 70 percent of the population is in partial agreement, our society is going to become a bigger mess.

  123. I have no idea what it's like to get hit, by a parent or anyone else, but my mom had facial expressions and silences that could turn a child into a whimpering mess. These were useful in that they anticipated encounters with teachers, employers and other obstacles in life. I would gladly give Adrian Peterson her contact information.

  124. I think what Peterson did was probably child abuse but I fear we are all once again running down the path of public hysteria similar to the Salem witch trial when we Blanketedly condemn all parents who corporally punish their kids. Many kids now get away with rude, impulsive and antisocial Behavior that kids of my generation wouldn't dare commit..the huge difference between back then and now is that corporal punishment was more commonly practice. Nowadays if a parent threaten a kid with corporal punishment that kid will frequently threaten to call the police and continue the Beheavor for which the parent threaten punishment. The fact is many of the immigrant groups frequently with the most succesful and polite kids in school (many Asians and African immigrants) still practice corporal punishment or at least their version of tough love.

  125. Mike Davis--
    If you think this case is "probably" child abuse, what in the world would constitute a clear-cut case of abuse in your mind?
    Please post your response; I really do want to know.

  126. When folks accept biblical passages literally it is difficult to change their mindset.

    The fact many Black Americans, like rote recite this passage, but dismiss others in the bible even more horrific is astounding.

    For instance, from the
    King James Bible
    "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ"

    No one ever utters that passage, but taken as stated; It seems Jesus was okay with humans being in bondage.

    Peterson's actions have begun a conversation which will surely be discussed amongst those who use the bible as justification to use whoop their children.
    Hopefully some will develop courage past the amen corner who cling to the notion it is sanctioned by God. They will decide not unlike like slavery, the practice is barbaric.

    As Americans, we must continuously examine that which we have accepted as cultural norms.

    Many ancestral ideas and practices are just too unconscionable.

  127. Discipline is about teaching acceptable behavior. It makes no sense to use unacceptable behavior--hitting---to teach acceptable behavior. All that hitting accomplishes is showing that's the way to express anger and resolve conflicts. The many cut marks on Peterson's son's small body, indicate that he was dangerously out of control. Anyone who does that needs professional help to learn self control and uncover and work through the real source of their pent up anger and rage that is spillng over onto innocents.

  128. If Peterson beat another adult in that way, or if another adult beat him, it would be a felony assault. How could it be acceptable for him to inflict such a brutal beating on a small child who couldn't possibly fight back or defend himself--even by running away.
    It's not only brutality, it's cowardice. Would Peterson dare to attack another adult who was as much bigger, stronger and heavier than he as he was bigger, stronger and heaver than his son?
    What on earth can a parent expect to teach a child by such behavior except that anyone bigger than you is dangerous and to be feared and that even a minor misdeed (and a fairly normal one among children) will be viciously punished?
    If he had killed the child he would have been arrested for murder (or at least manslaughter). If he comes within a few inches of killing him it's "discipline." What kind of insanity is that?

  129. I hold an uncompromising position on this particular subject: spanking should be against the law, period.

  130. What Peterson did wasn't a "Spanking".

  131. He beat a 4 year old with an object until that child was bleeding. He disregarded what must have been clear indications of serious pain from this child. He is an extremely strong man and he held a weak little struggling child while he beat him.

    Now, journalist after journalist, while deploring the act itself, give credence to Peterson's explanation that he loved his child and was misguidedly "disciplining" him because that's what he learned to do. How about, he was abused as a child and as a result learned to act out in rage and take out that anger on people who are smaller and weaker than he is? Why is that not considered as a possibility? This is a person with no empathy who beat a child. His texts to the child's mother look like rationalizations to me. He knew he could get into trouble for what he had done.

    If you can't call a grown man who beats a 4 year old until he is bleeding abusive, then clearly abuse does not exist. This is an easy one.

  132. Well said. Your conclusion is trenchant.

  133. This is not "abuse". This is not a "discipline" problem. This is not a
    "slap". This should be considered an assault on a minor with a weapon and it should be a felony.

  134. Take away his job and send him to jail.

  135. Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are not just men beating on women and children. They are professional football players. They are men who lift weights on a regular basis. They are men who could beat up most adult males with ease, let alone women and children. For them not to realize the wrongness of using their full physical strength on persons much smaller and weaker than themselves indicates a tremendous void in their mental and moral development.

  136. Hear hear!

  137. In his own e-mail he talks about going to time-outs and saving whooping for needed memories. So there's already an admission that it may have been a little unnecessary, plus the little gift that he already knew about alternative techniques. So much for that magical and relevatory lesson from the psychologist. For that matter, for run-of-the-mill in-no-way-exceptional incidents of parental discipline, does one immediately text the mother and lay down a little explanation and excuse about how bad it made you feel? Which happened in both known instances. He could very well love his kids, been brought up this way, and possible even mean well and do better going foreward but I am absolutely not buying that he was simply doing what he thought was unexceptionally normal and unproblematic parenting. He was covering his ass before the first blush was off his childrens wounds, their asses and elsewhere.

  138. Ray Rice beating his girlfriend into unconsciousness. Adrian Peterson cruelly beating his son with a tree branch. There are apologists and minimalists for domestic violence and corporal punishment for children. Those thinly veiled justifications seek camouflaged permission to draw blood.
    My mother and father were married for 55 years - they had arguments that practically created mushroom clouds. But never was violence part of the mix. It wasn't on the radar of their considerable conflicts. My parents were strict, but never laid a hand on me - and I wasn't always an angel. As an adult, I have my faults - but violence isn't one of them. I get angry and sometimes see red, but I know violence is wrong. WRONG. Self-defense and defense of someone else can sometimes be exceptions because there may be no other alternative to violence at that time. Otherwise, violence begets violence. That is the eternal real truth.

  139. "The proper care of children deprived of a normal home life can now be seen to be not merely an act of common humanity, but to be essential for the mental and social welfare of a community. For, when their care is neglected, as still happens in every country of the Western World today, they grow up to reproduce themselves. Deprived children (… ) are the source of social infection as real and serious as are carriers of diphtheria and typhoid." - Conclusion; WHO publication Child Care and The Growth of Love; authored by John Bowlby, 1953 - 60 years ago !

    I grew up in the 1950s US and can remember being chased through the house by an angry mother whacking my backside with a yardstick, and also having been forcibly held over a sink and a bar of soap jammed into and rubbed about to wash out my mouth of bad language. I waited until my 40s before becoming a father as did my siblings. We wanted to break the chain and not pass on our "disease".

  140. This is pretty straightforward to me. A gigantic professional football player hitting a 4 year old kid and making him bleed for a non-life threatening incident. Not justifiable one bit.

  141. Mary W--I'd like to suggest making a child bleed for any infraction is not justifiable. (But I did recommend your comment, too.)

  142. Spanking has got to go. It has to be thought of as unacceptable. It will take time, but if we have the societal will, we can eliminate physical punishment from childrearing.

  143. Hitting a child teaches the child only one thing- if you want to get your way badly enough, if something is very important to you, if you feel angry enough, it is perfectly OK to hit people and use physical violence and domination to get your way.

    This is not discipline, it is not correction, or guidance. It harms the child, and harms society as a whole. Teaching kids that physical violence is an acceptable social tool may be one reason these beaten children are perceived as dangerous.

  144. There is only one instance in which I feel that it is appropriate to spank a child, and that is when a child who is too young to understand verbal reasoning (say under the age of 3) does something that threatens his/her own life (say running into the street). This works well if the child has never previously been hit.

  145. Well if the child is too young to understand verbal reasoning,
    he will not understand why he is being hit. This does not "work well" under any circumstances!

  146. Not only am I horrified that someone thinks hitting an infant /toddler is ok but I'm also shocked that this comment gets recommended.
    Small children do understand verbal reasoning and cues. My son did run out into the street one time. Luckily no harm befell him since I was after him like a shot and got him back to safety. He most definitely understood my reaction to the situation. Mom crying and explaining how he could have been hurt or worse.
    Between the Peterson case and the Rice case I am truly saddened that so many people condone violence against the ones they love and are supposed to protect.
    I also feel the conversation is too race centered. I know a whole lot of people of other races and ethnicities that have experienced domestic violence. Doesn't matter what color you are, it's wrong for anyone.

  147. Exactly right! A simple smack of the hand or butt should be a last resort in an extreme situation for the purpose of protecting the child from a danger greater than any ill that the punishment might cause.

  148. I'm in my eightieth year and I'm negatively affected from being spanked very harshly on the bare butt by my father when I was three.
    I eventually grew to love him again but there was always an occasional subtle ripple of resentment that was difficult to purge. Even at three it didn't make sense to me that someone who said he loved you would want to hurt you no matter how brazen you might have been.

  149. Punishment by my father was to hold out your hand palm down to so he could slap your hand a stinging blow. I don't remember crying or being afraid probably because it was the only focused attention we got from him. He was abused by his father physically and his mom was a suicide. My mother didn't slap us but she never defended us either. What could we have done- we were country kids so unsophisticated. I am 76 yrs.
    with the same feelings as then but with knowledge of his past. However under no circumstances do I condone mental or physical brutality to children.

  150. I got spanked, through clothes with open hand, by my mother when very little. After a few times she never had to do more than give me "the look", and that was it. My father never had to raise his voice or get involved---enough to think "wait til your father gets home" and he might hear about it, but he never mentioned it. I adored him for that.
    "The look" was also reinforced at school starting in kindergarden, with nuns who had 60+ kids who never acted out or even talked when she wrote on the board. Respect, awe of education---I don't know. It was a girls school and there wasn't corporal punishment even though a 50s grade school. They laid out the rules, were strict and let us know our mission was to learn, to become successful in life. If we weren't serious we could ruin our life. I got a good education but there was coercion, religious lies. Made me suspicious of authority.
    Some could say that system imposed on children is a kind of violence, and I've questioned being forced into strict religious indoctrination from childhood. I'd never do it to my own.
    But physical violence is over any acceptable line. Nothing ok about this, period.
    What's redeeming is Mr Peterson appears open to realizing that just because it happened to him does not make it right, and hopefully to finding with help better ways to disipline and engage his son in new ways healthier for him and possibly saving a relationship with his son. Times and mores change, as must we.

  151. I am the father of two sons, 40 and 36, both of whom were raised without corporal punishment (EVER) and both managed to turn out to be pretty good guys whom my wife and I love dearly. Both will tell you that "the stare" was all they needed to straighten up. "The stare" conveyed my sense of disappointment and distress at what either might be doing, with a hint of incomprehension that anyone, and certainly not my child, could be doing something so stupid. They laugh about it today. My aim was always to keep discipline low key so that any escalation (for example, adding a hint of melodramatic menace to "the stare" by pursing my lips) would be really horrible to contemplate.

  152. I've noticed that there is an undercurrent of racism in many discussions regarding child abuse especially among African Americans, i.e., the lash of the slave master repeated from generation to generation of black fathers.

    I don't think that is true. I'm white and my father use to beat me with a buckle end of a strap, and a host of other forms of physical abuse. I think it all comes down to the power differential between the wife beater and/or child abuser. My father's beatings stopped when I was 16 and could beat him up. Growing up I knew of many white kids who
    were beaten up by their fathers. It's a cop out to assert this is a black only issue. It's a lazy man's form of discipline.

    I swore I would never spank, slap, or inflict pain on my children, and I didn't. When they were teenagers all I had to do was raise an eyebrow of disapproval, and they reacted far better than being beaten. Today they both are doing fine, and have children of their own. I also think slapping a child is walking on thin ice. It simply is not a productive form of discipline.

    Corporal punishment is really an assault accompanied by pain. There is never a need to beat your child, and it should be unacceptable in this society.

  153. I was beaten with a belt, with switches, with hands. I am a white woman. As a girl I was beaten by both parents, and once by a male teacher. I was a straight A student, valedictorian in h.s. and college. The psychological damage is enormous. I vowed never to hit my own children. I do have a son, and I have never struck him, nor has his father. There is no reason for an adult to hit a child.

  154. I may have been off in my wondering about the effects of the violence of slavery on American life. I was, however, thinking of both white and black Americans.

    I am 67 and know a very elderly white woman whose grandfather was raised during slavery. This woman was extremely violent and abusive to her children ( and her husband). One of her children grew up to once knock his wife's teeth out and he had counseling treatment. He did not talk to his mother for 12 years and always avoided her. Maybe she just had a violent personality or was abused by her own father. I did not mean to sound prejudiced against the South or any group.

    I think the situation with the football player is clear cut abuse. I think all of the comments on corporal punishment and abuse are helpful. The field of child protective services is woefully underfunded . Certain groups seem to question the basic idea of governmental attempts to protect children. Child welfare services started in America as an outgrowth of protecting animals from abuse. It is good to read all of the comments. This is a really good conversation.

  155. This is sick. It's abuse, not spanking or common discipline. All this does is teach a boy to suppress his rage towards authority figures until he can take it out on somebody weaker than him - his child, his wife, his partner, or act out against authority (the police, employers). I witness regularly parents who spank their children on the street when the child is acting up. All it does it make the child act out more, while only temporarily relieving the parent's anger. It's a cycle that needs to be broken, because not only does it damage the child permanently, it doesn't stop with that child. People who use violence as a means of expressing rage probably have substance abuse problems, domestic violence records, problems with the law and maintaining employment. Peterson has only enjoyed "success" as an adult because he happens to excel at a violent sport where corporal abuse is rewarded.

  156. Yet another example of the level of social and mental dysfunction within the ranks of the NFL. I cannot understand what misbehavior a four year old child could have committed to be intentionally and cruelly brutalized by a parent. It is barbaric to terrorize a child barely, able to read or write, with a punishment so severe he was left bleeding and had sustained injury to his genitals.

    I was particularly offended to read the press release Mr. Peterson gave to the public. To apologize for brutally assaulting a four year old and then attempt a backhanded excuse of how he believed the brutality he received as a child somehow kept him on the "straight and narrow". The reality is our streets, courts, jails and graveyards are filled with violent young men who received similar treatment from the misguided adults in their lives.

    Reading Mr. Peterson's text messages give a more candid and revealing look into his state of mind; he is proving to his four year old son what a "bad" man he is who doesn't take any mess. Instilling fear through phyical and mental brutality seems to be a common social framework of NFL players whether the "recipient" is a female spouse or a four year old child.

    A moral corrective reponse from the NFL would be to indefinitely suspension Mr. Perterson pending the resolution of the criminal charges. If found guilty the suspension would be permanent. Mr. Peterson would be allowed to petition for reinstatement no ealier than two years.

  157. I wonder if Mr. Blow sees the irony in the fact that for months he has been railing against a criminal justice system that primary targets young African American men and now he is abetting a national hysteria that is only targeting young African American Men.

  158. There's no irony. It's two arms of the same demon. Are you really reading or do you already have your mind made up? And I don't see Mr Blow "railing against" anything. I see him asking important questions of the people of this country, as a whole. Are we not a whole country if not a whole culture? It seems you are confused. Try reading slower.

  159. What does it teach when a parent inflicts pain on a vulnerable child as 'punishment' ? It teaches that big people (or older siblings, playmates) can use violence to make small children comply with their wishes.

    Growing up in a home where a hand was never raised toward a child, it is difficult to understand spanking or hitting a child. If a parent has limited coping abilities and child-rearing skills, they will need help to become nurturing parents. Parenting isn't easy.

    Children can be difficult and obstinate: parents can learn to deal with frustrations patiently if they value their child's trust in them and have alternatives to corporal 'punishment'. Giving consequences, such as loss of privilege or time-outs, doesn't damage a child emotionally or physically, and helps promote inner self-discipline. With the respect and love of parents, children develop a sense of fair play and self-confidence.

    What we are taught as children is important when we become parents; all the more reason to give the next generation the gift of empathy, understanding, and child-centered discipline which respects their physical and emotional safety in their own home.

    They will pass that gift on to others.

  160. Here's an easy guideline for the Adrian Petersons of the world: if you'd be charged with a crime for doing it to a random person off the street, then you shouldn't be doing it to your child either. If you beat an adult with a stick, it's assault and battery. If you beat a child, it's "discipline"? That should never fly.

  161. Unfortunately if you confine a random person off the street to his room for an hour that would be kidnapping or illegal imprisonment. You also could not compel that random person to go to school, to have a particular bedtime, to eat his supper before dessert, or not to watch pornography.

    Of course, if you are the police you could beat that random person unconscious with a nightstick or spray him with MACE or shoot him for failing to obey your commands. If a prosecutor or a judge, you could send the person to prison or execute him for failing to obey society's rules.

    I have difficulty seeing how the random person test will be useful to parents.

  162. Missing from too much of this discussion are the so-called offenses that often lead to physical abuse. As Piaget pointed out 80 years ago, children are often hit or spanked for breaking things, knocking something over, or for other accidents instead of for clearly-bad intentions. Now the lesson is doubly harsh and absurd: beaten for an accident and no ill will. So, now we have to fear forever that after any accident we could be beaten.

    I was beaten with a metal ruler in 8th grade, 5 times, in an English school in Mexico City by a sadistic Head who hated Americans. My offense? Wearing a blue button-down shirt instead of the white-button-down shirt required (due to my mom not having washed one and sending me to school in a blue one, not as he put it, my "desire" to test the system). I have never forgotten or forgiven. That's what parents and teachers seem totally oblivious to: the rage that is generated at what is basically a grave injustice.

  163. While one may argue its effectiveness as a disciplinary tool, a rare pop on a fully-clothed bottom is one thing; this level of beating and humiliation is quit another. Stuffing leaves in the child's mouth taught that child one lesson: What it feels like to be powerless and on the receiving end of uncontrollable rage.

  164. I read a study recently that states that in most cases the last children, where the mother is present, will have the father's love and financial support. The earlier children will be neglected, beaten or driven off.

  165. There are two things that happen with abuse, folks either say they will never abuse their spouse or child, or they will become like their abusers.

  166. Charles, you rightly focus on the subject of spanking and abuse and perhaps corporal punishment to which American children are subjected. You are particularly clear on an essential point, that the perpetrator seeks to justify his treatment of his son as part of a mode of child rearing that shaped him, Adrian Peterson, to be the "man" he is. So much for being a "man".

    You are also careful in this column to focus on the problem before us, child abuse. I believe, however, that Petersen or a supporter has attempted to justify this abuse by indicating that it is part of "black" culture, which, in American terms, means that it is part of the culture of an entire "race" - in quotes because American use of the concept is exceptional.

    This assertion should be dealt with you in a future part II of your Conversation on Race (8/209 in which you tell your readers that there is no genetically programmed black race and that child abuse is practiced in every culture and in every ethnic group, whatever its size.

    You could then pose this question to American sociologists and medical researchers who are fixated on the study of the American black "race". Ask them: Where are the studies that examine the variation of corporal punishment within the many smaller ethnicities within the group designated as black (or white) in America?

    I will be happy to clarify that last question and can be reached at Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com

  167. Verbal spanking (yelling to children) is so common in this country that I am not surprised to see that these children turn out to be docile citizens for the rest of their life.

  168. Mr. Peterson states that being hit as a child "has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man".
    He is not a success as a man. He is a child beater.

  169. Where to begin? Hitting anyone is not good, but hitting the unarmed and defenseless child is worse; it is just not manly or cool.
    Even as I agree that behaviors such as Adrian Peterson's should be banned and punished, I am not sure that a law will achieve that goal. After all social change requires people to change their attitudes, and that, as we know from so many other examples (slavery and the continued racial discrimination come to mind) does not happen soon enough. We need to highlight the negative consequences of such behaviors and try to educate ourselves and those around us.

  170. "Whom you love, you must chasten," is the child-rearing wisdom I was brought up with in my large family. And as Machiavelli puts it, it's best to be loved and feared. Children need a chastening smack every now and then to keep them from being wayward and giving them a lick shows a parent's concern to keep them from being wayward and getting themselves into trouble. All this mealy-mouthed "time out" and other methods of non-corporeal punishment have produced a large number of entitled brats in this and other societies. The world will correct a wayward person, regardless of parental strictures or the lack thereof. Let kids understand consequences are physical and may extend into severity from an early age. They need this knowledge to succeed in the amoral jungle into which we are all born.

  171. If you stop using violence on children, the world might change for the better. I was beaten as a child, for not doing a perfect job cleaning my room, or for losing a contact lens, for example. How is that justifiable? I have never hit my own child. He is the sweetest and most compassionate person.

  172. I'd love to hear how YOUR children feel today about your justification of violence in the home.

  173. Machiavelli wasn't giving parenting advice. And his teaching on the proper behavior for princes was more subtle than this. Excessive cruelty or indulgence of one's anger due to lack of self-control or regard for the populace was to be avoided.

  174. Children are our equals. They are not our property. Treat the with respect if you now what is respect.

  175. Abuse is a universal problem. Sweden, for example, wouldn't have a law against spanking if the law hadn't addressed an abuse issue they chose to address in that way.

    And it's true that something generally acceptable can become unacceptable when its consequences are extreme. We hold people accountable for consequences and fund programs that seek to discover and protect against the abuse of children.

    But I think we go too far in a desire to impose a collective will on individuals when we say physical punishment must be avoided in all instances, with verbal communication substituted. Those who urge this may assume that all parents have the capacity to replace one with the other and achieve a desired result; or that communication is sufficiently direct a means of achieving an outcome in all instances and with all children. But, mostly, it removes from the individual the responsibility to socialize his own child by dictating too restrictively the acceptable means for doing that; yet this is one of our most basic responsibilities.

    Society has every right to examine consequences and judge that some are too severe to countenance; and to hold parents responsible for those consequences. But it's another matter entirely to go beyond them and dictate means by which children must be reared that seek to avoid any chance of unacceptable consequences. We may as well remove from parents the right and responsibility to rear their own children, and simply charge the state with doing so.

  176. Well said. A responsible reply

  177. Sadly, when you listen to their views on child-rearing many fundamentalist Christians seem to have stuck with the "spare the rod, spoil the child" philosophy out of the Old Testament. It gives a very sinister meaning to the term
    "Bible Belt".

  178. So you take from this that Christians are horrible people. Your bigotry is showing, Susan.

  179. Susan, as pointed out elsewhere that word "rod" in Proverbs is the Hebrew word for the implement used by a shepherd to guide, not beat, the flock. As we Christians frequently do, we appropriate a phrase from Hebrew scripture ant torture its meaning after it is translated into our tongue, in this case English. The Jewish faith communities do not treat this phrase as an excuse or direction to abuse children. So it's not an "Old Testament" philosophy but rather a Christian interpretation that, as again often happens, is simply cherry-picking text t prove a dubious point.

  180. I understand that the "rod" used in the Bible was a sherpard's hook that gently guided the wandering sheep back into the flock. The term "rod" is often misunderstood as a weapon used to hit a child. I once knew a woman who took her child to a "Christian counselor" who told her to have her child pick out a "rod" at the nearby lumber store to be used in his spankings. Turns out the child was schizophrenic - not disobedient. Whipping or spanking always reflects the parent's frustration, not the child's bad behavior. Discipline is about teaching - not hurting. How can we help parents gain the needed understanding of various developmental stages and appropriate guidance? Our own parents are not always our best teachers!!!

  181. Very well put, Mr. Blow. Thank you.

  182. Dear Mr. Blow, Mr. Peterson went to college. He left in his Senior year to become a professional player. How a supposedly "educated" man could have used a branch to punish his child seems to just point out how the college/professional football connection has really little to do with "education".
    "Got kinda good wit" and "got him in the nuts" indicates a person with, perhaps, a less than stellar education (Oklahoma is a college, isn't it?).
    Who actually wrote the "press release"? One of the NFL lawyers or one of the lawyers from the Player's Union?
    In any case, at least the issue of "child abuse", along with spousal abuse, is getting some well deserved attention.
    As for the children Mr. Peterson has "disciplined", I assume they, too, will use the excuse that "my daddy did it to me so I do it to my kids" and perpetuate the seemingly endless cycle of abuse.
    But, I imagine, in the mind's of most NFL fans, the biggest problem is that Mr. Peterson may not be allowed to play. His off field behavior is trumped by his ability to score points and I'm sure we'll see him back in uniform (Not an Orange jumpsuit, by the way.) in short order.
    You see, he helps make money for the NFL and that is his primary purpose.

  183. Not to disagree with your main point. But let's regard with great caution the appellation of student to any of those who went to college but were really minor leaguers for the NFL or NBA. Big time college sports are a monstrosity.

  184. Very, Very, Very well stated!
    Thank you, from a 72 year old female that still remembers her mother using a cut off broomstick on my back and across my shoulders.
    I'm thankful to God that he gave me the wisdom to not do the same to my son .

  185. Peterson did not go to college in the sense that the majority of students go to college. He played football at a college. Any learning was purely coincidental.

  186. I wish we were discussing both the means of discipline and the goals of discipline. As for the means, there are ways to inflict harm on children equal to or greater than physical beatings. Shouting, threats, expressions of disappointment and disgust - child abuse can be achieved with a thousand cuts rather than one blow. As for the goals, I don't think we are very clear. In my experience, "discipline" is the wrong word - usually people resort to beating children as a way to establish authority. Indeed, the more authority you have, the less likely you are to resort to beating. Thus, oddly, a traditional system that allows corporal punishment may produce less daily abuse (even if instances of punishment are more extreme), if it makes parents more secure in their authority. People who are threatened or insecure - people to whom society has given little authority - may beat their children as a desperate act.

    I lean towards the view that spanking your children is bad. But far worse than spanking is a situation where you have no authority over your children. Without authority, you have no control, and your children will abuse others.

  187. I agree that children who have no authority figure are going to be badly harmed. It is my belief that they escalate their conduct to get the caretakers to exert power and stop them. I believe this is instinctual based on their innate knowledge that they need protection from themselves. However, the extremity that this parent used is inexcusable. He should be arrested and put in jail for assaulting a child with a weapon. He's a powerful man - what's psychologically wrong with him?

  188. NSK from Kenya writes: " far worse than spanking is a situation where you have no authority over your children. Without authority, you have no control, and your children will abuse others."

    It should be obvious by now that the children who "abuse others" are children who have learned very young that big people get to hit little people. That is a lesson the child learns from a violent parent, and turns around and uses on younger siblings, then on smaller children on the playground, and later, perhaps as a member of a youth gang, on just about anybody who is weaker, including little old ladies.

    Hasn't it occurred to you, NSK, that the most rebellious, violent and delinquent children are the ones who are beaten, and the most violent communities and countries are those where beating of children is commonplace?

    Your attempt to present "physical beating" as maybe better than "shouting, threats, expressions of disappointment and disgust" must leave most readers flabbergasted. Haven't you noticed that the families where children are victims of "physical beatings" are also the families where children are the victims of "shouts, threats, expressions of disappointment and disgust"? And that there are families where NONE of these things takes place, where children live in a loving environment, do well in school, go on to college, become an asset to their communities?

  189. This assumes that children are inherently bad, that if you don't "control" them they will abuse others. I believe that is a completely false perspective and it raises questions in my mind about the socialization of the author. I firmly believe that abuse is learned behavior. Certainly children as their are exploring and learning about their world may perform an action that is harmful to others, but this is not abuse because abuse implies the intent to harm whether physical or mental or spiritual. When children, in their explorations, harm others an appropriate response from a parent is to point out that they did cause harm, and that the action is not acceptable. I have never seen an abusive individual who was raised in a loving, supportive, and secure family.

  190. Try this: Teach kids that actions have consequences. And that many actions are just part of a child's development and are even age appropriate. And consequences don't need to include physical punishment. If a child misbehaves, take away something the child enjoys (I call them privileges), such as screen time, dessert or time playing. It works.

  191. It's interesting that more attention is paid to physical abuse than it is to psychological abuse. Is a mental spanking any better for a child than a physical one? They are both used to manipulate a child's behavior. It's my opinion that psychological abuse can be far more destructive.

  192. I don't spank my children but your statement is extremely unreasonable regarding a four year old. They do not have the capacity for rational thought, and are as likely to assume the punishment has already happened and there is nothing to be done about it.

    Getting four year olds to sit in time-out can cause even more problems than the original.

    There are reasons parents as mentioned are more likely to spank a young child than an older one, the older one can be reasoned with, and other punishments can be used, like TV.

    Whatever people say, we do not have an effective alternative to spanking for young children. Period. This is why many parents still spank because there is no effective alternative so that one has to live with a level of defiance and misbehavior one shouldn't. One of the things that spanking has going for it is that it is immediate, unpleasant and over.

    You don't have to wait to find the toy and take it away. The child can't decide that they prefer another toy. And once the punishment is done, it is done. No lingering sense of injustice. Plus the things you take away that are a deterrent at that age tend to be things the child is emotionally attached to. My daughter would be most willing to comply if the threat was her Pink Bunny, but since her Pink Bunny was her sense of security, I was very ambivalent about the benign quality of that punishment. Frankly, I think that spanking may have less emotional baggage down the line.

  193. No, some kids do not respond to either timeout or removal of privileges. There are some who understand they have the upper hand even when little and purposefully work the parents last bit of patience. Some children really are like that.

  194. Corporal punishment in a nutshell is lazy parenting at its worst. Little kids are often in a frustrated state because they lack ability to communicate wants or needs, they could be tired, or simply in a state of lacking impulse control. But we are the adults and need to act like it. Many parents are stating that they are spanking to teach a lesson or out of frustration which is clearly a problem. Simply leave the room, walk around the house for five minutes and try to decide what to do.
    It is equally depressing when parents think their children are gurus with the deepest thoughts. Let's let Johnny and Janey our three and four year olds make all the decisions. Why don't you have them do your taxes while you're at it? Parenting is very difficult and presents many challenges and it is easy to judge others. In this case, if this is proven true, Mr. Peterson does deserve that judgement.
    Lets all remember that what they need is our love and guidance. They will welcome discipline that they can respect. Seeing a child flinch or cower in the presence of their parent does not instill respect, it exaggerates fear and most likely will perpetuate.

  195. Children like boundaries. They do not like discipline. I am not here to defend this parent. However, all the parenting advice what such needs to stop using the passive child as its baseline.

    Sure, I've met kids who would quietly respect all these methods as toddlers. They were not go-getters. Even my easy going-son was more vociferous and stubborn than these children as a young child.

    But my daughter is yet another matter. She has an extremely strong will. I tell her it is not as strong as mine but that is a lie (and I have a strong will). This is a trait that will serve her well in life. I do not wish to break it, but I must civilize her.

    She is also naturally passionate and sensitive but too young to handle the power of tendencies. Here too I can not let these run amok and hope that they will go away when she is old enough to handle them. She must come under some control of herself.

    All your little theories? Useless. Simply Useless. Parenting a child with a strong sense of self, and the energy to carry that through is not as simple as you make it out to be. I can well imagine another parent with a similar child resorting to (controlled) spanking, and it would not be out of bad parenting or laziness.

  196. I'm shocked by the figure quoted in the article that 94% of parents reported having spanked their 3 or 4 yr old in the past year. I was spanked occasionally as a child. When it came to raising my own child, I just never saw a time that I thought spanking would be effective or appropriate. I'm really surprised that I appear to be in such a minority.

  197. The worst spanking I ever got was one blow from an open hand on my (clothed) backside when I crossed the street by myself without permission, scaring the daylights out of my mother. I never made that mistake again. The fear in her face was a worse blow than what I got from her hand.

  198. Amazingly, 94% of people are honest.

  199. I also found the 94% figure shocking. When my own daughter (now 19) was in nursery school, lower school, and beyond, I was not aware of anyone who spanked their children, and my daughter never told me about hearing of friends who were (or said that they were) hit by their parents. Am I living in a fantasy world? Have my eyes and ears been sealed to what is going on around me? Are people who hit their children secretive about it? Although more privileged than many, I don't think that my family is in some elite 6% group; we are an inner-city, middle-class, black family.

  200. Grew up with four brothers with a dad that had three brothers (no sisters). Spanking was the way of 'discipline'. Both dads were alcoholic and took some of their anger, frustrations, imbalances and such out on the kids, at times. Yes, my dad spanked my brother till he bled once (at least, I only remember that one incident). My dad was a great athlete: 6'4" college scholarship, ex-Marine. Still my hero, to this day: as a man - not as a father.
    My dad won state championships in basketball and high jumping. He became president of the Young Democrats in Arkansas. He was president of the Boys Club, and integrated the swimming lessons they gave at the city pool, therefore integrating the pool. He was mayor of Fayetteville. He was a delegate to the 68 Democratic Convention in Chicago. He served on the state Board of Directors for the teacher retirement fund (he was a stockbroker). I look up to what he did for others in a real, political, effective way.
    As a dad, I know spanking the hell out of a child is abuse. It is beyond wrong. I know the Code of Hammurabi and the Bible and some early colonial laws permitted parents to even kill their child if they weren't 'respectful', but those laws are criminal in themselves.
    You put the kid in time out, take their phone or tv away, you bring them with you to volunteer to help others, you take a walk with them (maybe in the woods, etc. I never spanked my son. He's a fine young man. It can happen. Without beatings.

  201. So your child has done "something " wrong and let's say in this incident they knew it was wrong at the time, OK the behavior has to be addressed and the child probably already knows this. You react with anger for you have already addressed this behavior , the child remembers and your anger is a result of the child just not listening to you and Hey you are the parent! so, your "knee-jerk" reaction is hitting and/or yelling (the words are also hurting) for surely you know have their attention! Yes but for all the wrong reasons.

    Ask the adult in you a question and be honest, who benefited from this, You? (for it did help release some of the anger and frustration parenting does come with). The Child? No..... because remembering the emotional and physical pain your child experiences is on the forefront of their minds and reasons get lost. You just taught your child that not only are they a Really "bad person" but also when angry and/or frustrated with others the best action to take is just what you did. children want to perceived as an Ok human being, they just made a wrong choice.

  202. Oh, this is sad, so incredibly sad. It isn't enough that we use the constitution as proof that we're allowed to own arsenals of guns, now we have to use the Bible to justify beating our children? Are we more inherently violent than other civilized countries or are we just stupid? Killing and brutalizing are clearly very much on the American mind.
    I need to move to a place where there's less religion (everywhere I look, religion is killing people), and where guns are not everyone's favorite toy. I truly feel that we are lost as a nation if 70% (!) of an educated population thinks it's OK to beat a child. Packing my bags.

  203. Wish I could recommend your comment 1000 times. Where are you headed?

  204. This was not "spanking." A spanking is a quick swat to a child's clothed bottom. This was a beating. And children who are beaten grow up to be men who beat their wives and children.

  205. At one time, I thought spanking or even a belt was how you controlled a child. I will never, and I mean that literally, forget the look of fear on my young son's face. I never used that stupid so called discipline again.

    Spanking is what adults do to relieve their anger and frustration. It has nothing to do with teaching a child anything except fear. Is that how you really want to be regarded by your child? An object of fear? BTW - fear is not the same as respect. Never ever hit a child.

  206. Charles, this child will be scarred for life, period. There is no question the "limits have most likely been exceeded" as your nuanced writing purports. I wish the black community would come to grips with this issue. We are all Americans who, supposedly, share the same family and moral values. It's time to stop selling the divisive double standard.

  207. My first thought after seeing those pictures was of the famous pre Civil War photo of a slave with terrible scars from being whipped. Then I thought of that scene from Fawlty Towers where John Cleese beats his stalled car with a tree branch. His fury was maniacal - but funny because the victim was a machine and Cleese's character was a well established lunatic.

  208. Publicly, everyone comes out against spanking, but admits privately that if a child's life is in danger because of their bad behavior (say running into the street) spanking is appropriate to get their attention. By doing so, people have admitted that spanking isn't wrong, but should be reserved for situations that require real emphasis, when nothing else seems to be getting through.

    I remember exactly what I was like as a child (good natured, but wild and unruly), and I know for a fact that if my mother hadn't had the threat of spanking ready, I wouldn't have listened to 20% of her instructions. Most children aren't like this and don't require spanking to learn (my brother, for example, never did), but I am grateful that my mom knew enough and was confident enough as a parent to do what was necessary to raise me to be a responsible person. I shudder to think how I would have turned out otherwise.

  209. Are you saying she spanked you but not your brother?

  210. The sad irony of situations like Peterson's is that so many come out of the woods to boast about how harshly they discipline their children. I read the sentence five times that 94% of parents reported having spanked their children during the past year. I have two children in their 20's and my wife and I never spanked them. The result--they don't view violence as a means of bringing about desired behavior or solving a problem. They don't hit others when they are angry.

    Sorry folks--spanking is violence and it is wrong. If spanking actually brought about good adult behavior, we would have no domestic violence or child abuse. But as any educated person knows, abusers have always been abused. Always.

    Parents spank because they are angry at their children. It is a primitive form of releasing their anger that comes much too easily to too many parents.

    Have you ever seen a child get yelled at all of time by a parent? Pretty soon the child becomes immune and tunes it out. The yelling has absolutely no positive effect in molding a child's behavior The same holds true for spanking.

    Parents who believe in spanking should give themselves a timeout before striking their children.

  211. It is very surprising to hear how many people use hitting as a form of punishment and how many people comment that they were hit as a child. No one ever hit me - ever - as a child and as a parent I have never even considered it as a form of discipline or punishment. I was unaware that such methods were common.

  212. And they should never strike their child. How about forming an
    abusers group to call for support when your child is acting out like AA does for alcoholics. How about setting up therapy courses for

  213. As someone who has volunteered as an attorney and advocate for children removed for neglect and abuse, let us hope that the spotlight will extend to abused and neglected children in this country. It is a terrible thing to (1) be horribly mistreated by a parent or parents, (2) be taken in by those seeking only to make ends meet, and (3) have your fate determined by a committee of underpaid and overworked child welfare workers. The ultimate irony is that many kids who live out their childhood in the foster care system have children who are ultimately removed for neglect and abuse.

  214. Thank you for bringing this issue beyond just what affects the elite. The foster care system and the way children are treated in this country is barbaric. Children have almost no voice - legal or otherwise. My husband and I completed foster care training a number of years ago. We didn't need the income. We were experienced parents, economically stable and I hold a doctorate in education. We wanted to utilize our collective experience and provide nurturing to kids who really needed it. We had even considered adopting. The entire foster care system was skewed so heavily toward the "rights" of the birth parents - with almost no weight is given to the rights or best interests of the child - that we chose not to continue with the process at the end of the training. I could not be a part of a process where (with as little as 24 hours notice) a child could be ripped away from the only parents they have ever known and given to strangers who had already proven themselves inadequate or even abusive "parents" - because the parents have rights. Attachment Theory research which clearly established the impact of interrupted attachment on the development and outcomes of children is not even considered by the legal system. In fact, judges don't talk to the child about their wishes in order to remain "objective," yet they talk to the birth parents. What about the rights of the child to be parented by people who have the capacity and the desire to do it right?

  215. "…committee of underpaid and overworked child welfare workers." The production of goods on which good wages have been based is a diminishing part of our economy and who knows when and to what extent it will return. We have a service economy now. No service is more important to every member of any community than those we provide to children -so we often say. When it comes to putting the $s where our mouths are - not so often! Child welfare workers should be receiving the highest wages paid in our economy because when we fail our children we waste our most precious resources, our most valuable assets. If we fail to provide the nurturing they need WHEN THEY NEED IT we will pay for it later in people who cannot function well in our communities and need much more expensive services later in their lives: physical and mental health corrective services, criminal services: prisons! Let's begin to think beyond laws such as gun laws, and the criminal justice system, as societal controls and think of well-nurtured people capable of making good decisions about themselves and their communities, such that future generations will not have to spend the enormous sums we do to correct our care-less mistakes.
    Whether the cause is one-parent families, or race, or the deterioration of traditional marriage, what matters is the well-being of the children. Remember that!

  216. THE NFL really has to clean up their acts. Why just this year we have heard about racism, bigotry, women beating in elevators, 4 years olds beaten until bloody with a switch and apologists saying they will hit their one year old girl from members of this organization. Not to mention the denial of all of this from the top. Obviously this has been going on for sometime but media scutiny is forcing the issues out onto the floor of public awareness, and legal awareness as well. This is an incredibly wealthy organization, it may well be time for them to take care of their employees psychological issues. If they were all alcoholics and had a problem their health care coverage would have them in rehab. ANd the NFL would be legally responsible for that rehab. Maybe they should pick up the tab on all the therapy needed by the families of these guys.

  217. No less than Michelle Obama reluctantly admitted her positive view of spanking her two girls.(ABC News Interview with Barbara Walters, "Most Famous People of 2009") to discipline them.Your failure to mention the Obamas,of course,speaks to your obvious political bias,a rhetorical device of omission.But the Obamas no longer endorse spanking since the public criticism following the Walters interview. Should they have been investigated for child abuse? It may be none of the government's business absent a criminal complaint.Often however,, a silence reveals more than it hides.

  218. Mrs. Obama said she spanked her daughter once or twice and that it was ineffective. I am sure it was a tap on the (clothed) bottom with the palm of her hand, just as most of us have done in an attempt to stop a misbehaving child. I'm sure Mrs. Obama felt worse about it than her daughters.

    There is a huge difference between spanking your child on a clothed bottom with your palm and using a tree branch and your 250-pound force to whack a child's scrotum and bare skin. This man drew blood from a 4 years old. That's a crime.

  219. Maybe there's a difference. But that doesn't mean that spanking should be acceptable. It's hitting. WHen you spank, you force a young, small person down over your knee, hold them there, and strike them in the buttocks repeatedly with your hand, all with the deliberate intention to cause pain and induce fear. If you did it to ANYONE other than your child, you'd be charged with the crime of assault. For the life of me, I'll never understand why we make children exempt from our basic laws on criminal behavior.

  220. I've got to pile on with Mr. Blow.

    My mother (and largely absent father) had children beyond her means of caring for them and dealt with her angers, exasperations, and frustrations with a switch or with any other object she could pound my bottom with. It has to be said right out front it was no where as brutal as the alleged Peterson 'switching' though--no blood involved.

    I don't think it takes a psychologist to hypothesize that corporal punishment breeds meanness and behavior problems in those it is inflicted upon. I just turned around and took my 'learned' meanness and aggression out on my siblings.

    It's certainly been said that there's no license or permit issued for parenting. A human irony is the use of the words 'sex' and 'making love' as synonyms. Maybe the greatest irony involved right there is the shortage of 'love' passed on to the products of too many of these assignations.

    Perhaps because the products of bad parenting practices get passed onto society, therein lies justification for society, and their authorized representatives, to interfere when poor parenting evinces itself.

    Maybe in this day of mega-pop-media a large societal discussion and learning can take place from this unfortunate situation.

  221. several different children with several different women, one of his children beaten to death by another man, at least 2 of his own children whooped. I don't think the beatings he endured as a child turned him into a better person.

  222. Disgusting. I can imagine the terror of a four year old, mouth stuffed full of leaves, beaten with a tree branch enough to leave welts, all for pushing his brother off a video game. Sick. My father was solely verbally abusive except once, and even at 60 I feel the terror of his constant verbal abuse. People are just plain ignorant! I pity the children of any abuse-its effects are debilitating and lifelong. Peterson may have destroyed this boy's chances. How about counseling for the boy? He needs it.

  223. Almost 25 years ago, I took my 2 young sons to a major league baseball game out of town and stayed in a downtown hotel near the stadium. My boys were excited about the trip, the game, and especially the souvenirs I bought for them at the ball park. In the hotel room after the game, they went wild and would not settle down. So I spanked them and that did not help. I then threatened to take away the souvenirs I had given them. I told them they were mine and they would not ever see them again unless they settled down. Worked like a charm… I learned a good lesson there.

  224. You presumably lived with these children all their lives. Did it never occur to you that your young sons might get overstimulated with a trip to the city, meals out, crowds of strangers, the thrill of a baseball game, then an overnight in a hotel, and exciting new toys?

    Who is really at fault here?

  225. Those poll number scare me. Honestly, whatever issue in America we confront, handguns, climate control, and now beating children, the poll numbers reflect public attitudes that border on stone age reasoning. You would think that at this point in time, with all we the research into child rearing and learning, that a majority of the public still believes that beating a child is a favored disciplinary technique. Citizens in this country need to turn off Netflix and find some media pathway to becoming educated.

  226. There is a huge difference between "verbal spanking" and beating a child so severely that the child is bloodied. From his own words, it sounds as though Peterson lost his temper over a minor issue. Given the size disparity between the two, it was a gross display of brutal bullying, with no ameliorating parental intent to educate. If Peterson had done this to a stranger, he would be indicted for assault.

  227. Thank you for a thoughtful and caring article. Yes, we should consider spanking children. It is just one more sign of child rearing techniques that should have passed a long time ago, but still afflict our society. If parents would simply listen to the child, they would better understand who the child is and the needs of the child. The need for corporal punishment would vanish. Unfortunately, we are too authoritarian and believe that telling the child what to do is how you raise the child, when most of the time it is simply telling the child what not to do, which teaches the child nothing. It is in these instances when corporal punishment is most frequently used, so we should be able to see pretty easily how ineffective and inappropriate it might be.

  228. "telling the child what not to do, which teaches the child nothing"

    You really believe children learn nothing from being told not to do certain things?

  229. Yes, Ron. Particularly under a certain age, you might as well be trying to teach calculus to your cat.

  230. Ron: The only way out of this is to find the objection in your own mind to what you think. It's not hard to do. Just keep asking questions. The answer to this first question is yes? If you beat the child because the child gets up on the table and you tell him to get down and the child doesn't, then what has he learned? Don't get up on the table when your parent is around? Or If I get up on the table, and I will get attention and a beaten. Depending on the age of the child, pre reasoning ability, for example, which could be any age under 7, it's possible that nothing at all will be learned. Teaching the child the right thing to do, and taking the occasion to do that, is more helpful. You could show the child how to sit in a chair, for example. It's kind of obvious what you need to do, but that's not to what parents are responding. It's the defiance that moves them to muster, probably just as their parents dealt with them.

  231. The studies are flawed.

    How can we know that the spanking caused the later problems? Why could it not be that the child who is headed for later problems exhibits a lot of conduct that normally requires spanking?

    In other words, we can take the same study data and say:

    "The study found that children who grow into young adults with behavioral issues began life early as incorrigible delinquents who earned frequent severe spankings."

    Peterson accidentally hurt a child, but he can learn and is learning. And with his mega-millions in wealth, he can afford all the counseling to undo the harm to the child. Don't be misled. The children are some of the luckiest people on the planet, with a parent who is a greatly talented athlete, who has multi-millions in wealth to provide for them, and who loves them.

    I admire Adrian Peterson for his firm conviction that a parent must place what's best for a child ahead of what is popular, even in disciplining the child. He sort of reminds me of Jackie Kennedy who said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much."

  232. Accidentally? Lucky? "Best for the child?"

    Lucky for him that his millions buy him counseling in the hope that he will learn how not to savagely beat a child. Unlucky for the average working person without millions who just ends up in jail for savagely being a child.

    In all this, the trauma to the child has become pretty much of a sidebar in the discussion about what should happen to a semi-literate millionaire.

  233. Love, really? Bloodying a child is not my definition of love. He sired them, but I am not sure how much he loves them.

  234. How on earth is this a "Times Pick?" A child who lives in fear of an abusive parent is the "luckiest person on the planet" becasuse his father is a "talented athlete" with "multi-millions in wealth?" This comment attempts to justify violence against a defenseless child by an appeal to fame and wealth and it's beyond reproach that the Times has recommended it in any shape or form.

  235. Corporal punishment is the result of ill-considered tradition and parents using the most accessible and least thoughtful form of discipline. The next time a parent considers it, they should just spit in their child's face. Then, ask themselves if spanking is any more respectful of their child's dignity?

  236. Charles, I think you offer a perspective of a Father on this subject but I have to wonder, why are you allowing yourself to present this subject as if there is only one standard method of parenting.

    It is a fact that Parenting is cultural and therefore whenever people criticize parenting styles they may be referencing their own culture.

    African American Parenting styles suffers from the unfortunate fate of always being contrasted against the Eurocentric cultural view.

    My question is, which culture can claim exclusive experience with children ? Why present this subject as if the Eurocentric parenting style is the only acceptable way of parenting?

  237. let us say the whole human race is a culture and in such a culture there is no place for beating a child

  238. There is no such thing as Eurocentric parenting. The Brits have a long history of supporting corporal punishment and Tony Blair has expressed himself as being in favor.

    What I ask for and have asked for today is studies that show the range of belief and practice in the ethnic group of your choice during a particular time interval in the history of that ethnic group. Perhaps there are no such studies. I know a number of young parents here in Sweden all born in the Horn of Africa. In the US they would be called black. Here they are just Swedish citizens with roots in country x. Not a one of them would dream of spanking their very young children. Will check with a Somali friend in Minneapolis, mother of 3, studying psychology to see what she has to say.

    In closing, since you object to what you call "Eurocentric" parenting am I to infer that you believe whatever the culture that is acceptable to whip, hit, spank a child?

    American in Sweden Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com

  239. This issue is neither Eurocentric nor Afrocentric. It is about violence against children, perpetrated by adults. Get it?

  240. As a psychologist, I'm appalled. The scientific evidence against such violent, corporal punishment is unequivocal and it should be banned. This is exactly how abuse is transmitted from one generation to next and this is a great opportunity to break it. Just because it has been imbedded in a culture does not mean it's acceptable. It is only a sorry legacy of slavery with its whippings and beatings. The NFL has the opportunity to take the lead in instituting and advocating for a zero-tolerance policy on child and spousal abuse.

  241. Not only slavery. Children of all colors and races have been whipped and beaten over the centuries. Three Blacks in a NFL row
    do not an African American race make. However I do agree with your premise.