In professional sports, there is a wide gambit of behavior for coaches and players. Many are wonderful role models who use their celebrity, good work, and inspiration to help others and improve the community and beyond. Other professional athletes, however, by a single act or many bad acts put the league and professional sports in general in a bad light. The National Football League is tested on a daily basis to bring entertainment to the masses while at the same time policing its own players, coaches, and other personnel. It is a tough balancing act but an important one especially since the players and coaches are looked upon for guidance, inspiration, and, yes for role modeling. Recently, the NFL issued a firm statement regarding the playing status and suspension of one of the finest athletes in the NFL – Adrian Peterson. While the suspension was handed down to one individual by the name of Adrian Peterson, the carefully and well crafted words of Roger Goodell took a strong stance against corporal punishment and child abuse. As so aptly pointed out by Goodell, the injury was inflicted on a child who was only 4 years old. Goodell pointed out that the size and strength of the child was so much different than that of Peterson. Furthermore, Goodell pointed out that unlike an adult – a child had no realistic ability to fight back, flee, or seek the assistance of law enforcement. Then, Goodell noted that the switch (i.e. tree branch) was the equivalent of a weapon that Peterson repeatedly used on his son. Goodell then noted that Peterson indicated that he would not stop “whopping his kids” in the future. (It should be noted that Peterson recently stated that he would never use a switch again on his son.) These statements caused much concern to Goodell about Peterson’s proclivity to repeat these criminal acts and inflict harm on a defenseless child. Because of all of the above and more, the NFL is requiring Peterson to undergo counseling and to sit out the rest of the 2014 season. His reinstatement in 2015 will depend on Peterson’s compliance and the results of counseling and treatment.
Many people will take issue with the punishment handed down to Adrian Peterson. Many parents and caregivers still implement corporal punishment at home even the kind inflicted by Adrian Peterson on his 4 year old son. Those who support Adrian Peterson and this kind of corporal punishment may disagree with the NFL and the position taken in this article; however, it should be noted that child abuse is child abuse. The defense or excuse that Peterson was beaten as a child and this was how he was raised is weak. Prior bad acts do not justify current or future bad acts. If this was the case, there would be no progress in society. We would still have many unfair laws on the books and the protections afforded to children by law and practice would have possibly never been put in place.
Corporal punishment is by no means limited to the home. Many day care centers and schools still implement different forms of corporal punishment. Some corporal punishment acts are allowed depending on the State and county laws. However, even when corporal punishment is legal, there are limits to the corporal punishment. Most States, even those that allow corporal punishment, set limits. Typically, corporal punishment should not be so severe that it causes physical harm to the child that requires some form of medical attention or physical harm to the point that it produces visible injuries like welts, lacerations, hematomas, etc.
It is far easier and more sensible for parents and caregivers to refrain from corporal punishment in the entirety. Of course, many parents will argue that parenting should be left to parents. Furthermore, these same parents will argue that physical punishment is the among the most effective ways to teach a child and set the child straight. I wholeheartedly disagree, because young children, especially those born to parents who aggressively dole out corporal punishment, deserve the protection of the laws and the government. Otherwise, we are just going to see more victims like Adrian Peterson’s 4 year old son. It should also be pointed out that many such instances of abuse and neglect go unreported and, in turn, these children are essentially unprotected and in harm’s way every day. Tragically, some children have been beaten to death just for soiling a diaper or underwear. Many others have been seriously injured for other trivial or unintentional conduct. It should be made clear to all parents and child care providers – kids will be kids. They will make mistakes. They will misbehave. It happens. Good parenting and child care includes not only how a parent reacts to the positive actions of the child but the negative ones as well. Parent and child care providers should be patient, understanding, and mature with the decisions they make with respect to children under their care.
If a child is injured as a result of corporal punishment, neglect, or abuse, there may be a need to contact an attorney on behalf of the injured child. There may also be a need to report the incidents to the appropriate social service agency and law enforcement. The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Damages / Compensation, Insurance, Child Abuse, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.