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Domestic CP - September 2014

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ABC News logo (KLTV-TV), Tyler, Texas, 17 September 2014

Different generations discuss the evolution of corporal punishment

By Francesca Washington


Amid the controversy surrounding Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, corporal punishment has come into question. Every family has its own form of discipline. But as society continues to change and evolve, so do the forms of punishment.

Looking for switches isn't a new task for 78-year-old Mike Carpenter.

Growing up, if he needed to be punished, his father would make him find a switch for a spanking.

"I would cut the smallest one I could find," Carpenter said.

He says the smaller ones hurt a little less and he always learned his lesson.

"Teach you to say yes ma'am no ma'am, things they don't do today," Carpenter said.

Grandmother Kristin Stephens, 51, says if she gave her mom a hard time, her dad would be the first to know.

"If she told my father, he came home and gave me a spanking, and spankings from my dad hurt a lot worse than mom," Stephens said.

Forty-year-old Misti Harper says she endured the hand, the belt and the switch.

"I don't think they did time outs back then," Harper said.

Meanwhile, Rachel Loa, 28, says her parents gave her options.

"You could get spanked or be grounded for a week," Loa said.

The mother of two says she doesn't shy away from corporal punishment.

"We spank and by spank I mean tap her upper thigh to get her attention," Loa said.

But as a mother of five, Harper says spankings aren't effective with her children.

"I remember how it made me feel whenever I was little. I didn't like it. I think it hurts your feelings more," Harper said.

She practices time outs and taking away possessions, which is how Stephens says she disciplined her kids in most cases.

"There were two instances in which they would get a spanking, and it was never with an object. If they did anything to physically endanger themselves or endanger someone else," Stephens said.

As someone raised on the switch, Carpenter says that's what he swore by.

"I paddled my girls if they did something really wrong, and I think they all turned out just fine," Carpenter said.

But it seems many parents believe that era is coming to an end.

"I think people are led to understand that it is really important for you to communicate with your children," Stephens said.

Child advocates say discipline becomes abuse when it causes bodily harm to the child. But more importantly, it can cause long-term mental damage.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 25605 at


The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, 21 September 2014

Adrian Peterson whips open corporal punishment debate

By Jeff Darcy
Northeast Ohio Media Group

Adrian Peterson is charged with child abuse after whipping and wounding his four year old son with a switch.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson whipped his 4 year old son with a switch opening up skin wounds and a national debate over corporal punishment and child discipline customs in the south.

Peterson has been charged with reckless or negligent injury of a child. Peterson hit his son with switch hard and often enough to produce welts and cuts on his arms, legs and scrotum. It was hits to the latter that caused Peterson to call the boy's mother and apologize, saying he didn't realize he hit the boy in the genital area. When the boy's mother took him to his doctor, the doctor reported the wounds to police, as he's legally and morally obligated to do.

While prosecutors have decided what Peterson did constitutes child abuse, others have argued it constitutes old-school southern child rearing. In a recent panel discussion, Charles Barkley said, "I'm from the south. Whipping -- we do that all the time. Every black parent in the south is going to be in jail under those circumstances. We spank kids in the South."


What Peterson did is not what is usually considered spanking -- hitting a child with an open hand or paddle on their clothed bottom. Frankly, I'm surprised that whipping a child with a switch until it produces welts is considered an acceptable customary practice in southern black culture, because what it reminds me of is the whipping of slaves.

Making what Peterson did to his son a debate about corporal punishment equates the act with normal corporal punishment which is a mistake, because it wasn't. What he did was not parental discipline, it was parental abuse. It wasn't a spanking, it was a beating, at the hands of powerful professional athlete against a 4 year old. This isn't about whether spanking is right or wrong, it's about excessive use of force.

The Minnesota Vikings have given Peterson a timeout for beating his 4 year old until he bled. Peterson's bank account won't bleed, because he's been suspended with pay until his legal issues are resolved.

Peterson was initially reactivated for today's game. But the Vikings management reversed course soon after Radison hotels announced they were suspending their team sponsorship. Another fine example of the NFL acting not as a result of its own ethics or standards, but as result of public and sponsor outcry. The Vikings quick reaction to Radison pulling their sponsorship proves that in the NFL money talks, and women and children walk... to the first aid kit.

Plain Dealer Publishing Co. and Northeast Ohio Media Group. All rights reserved

Corpun file 25610 at

The Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin, 25 September 2014

Don't rush to judge parents who use a switch

By Hilary Beard
National guest columnist


Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted earlier this month on charges of "injury to a child" for striking his 4-year-old son with a tree branch -- what many African-Americans would call a whipping with a "switch."

CBS Houston reports that the boy's pediatrician reported his injuries to police, and TMZ has published photos that it claims are of the child's injuries. Peterson cooperated with police, saying that he'd disciplined his son with a "whooping" and, when the event happened in May, texted the child's mother, who lives in Minnesota, saying he felt bad for overdoing it.

By way of an initial defense, Peterson's attorney issued a public statement stating that the former league MVP is a loving father who merely disciplined his son by using an approach that had been administered to him as a child. And while, clearly, no one condones child abuse, if Peterson's statements are to be believed, he seems to love his child. But parenting practices vary widely, and his are being judged by a media and public not known for being skilled in analyzing issues complicated by race, gender, culture or potential implicit (unconscious) racial bias, which most Americans have.

These all come into play when determining whether Peterson's actions went beyond community standards for disciplining his child.

If the TMZ photos are of his son, Peterson may have crossed over a line. But both the community standards around appropriate discipline and the requirements of professionals required to report suspected child abuse or neglect are not as cut-and-dried as one might assume, so we shouldn't rush to judgment.

As Baltimore-based pediatrician Michelle Gourdine observes, "In the course of doing a physical examination and discovering injuries, the decision whether to report or not is based on not only that physical exam but also obtaining an additional history based on those findings." She further explains, "I am not aware of any specific guidelines that state that it has to be a certain type or character of injury on a certain individual. It's subjective based on your best professional determination."

New York psychiatrist Joe Brewster, with whom I co-authored "Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life" and who treats many African-American male patients, says, "Professionals use their judgment, and they're not likely to have the same standard for every individual." While he clearly states that he's against using corporal punishment, he notes that when it comes to parents defending their actions, "the privileged -- judges, doctors, lawyers -- are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. I see that constantly."

Almost all American parents have used corporal punishment. In 2012, 77 percent of men and 64 percent of women reported that they believed "a good, hard spanking" was sometimes necessary. In general, the parents of boys or black children, Southerners, younger and poorer moms, and evangelical and conservative Protestants are more likely to spank.

"Many of us were spanked with implements, and it was good for us. Many of us were abused with words, and we were forever scarred. The question is, what is the time and tenor of the house?" says the Rev. Alyn Waller, a family and marital counselor and head of a Philadelphia mega-church.

Peterson hails from Texas, among the most permissive states in allowing educators to hit children in schools. And the Texas State Library and Archives Commission says about eastern Texas, where Peterson grew up and where cotton was once king: "Historians estimate that at least 70 percent of the slaves received whippings at some point in their lives."

Some experts trace African-American reliance upon corporal punishment as a vestige of slavery.

What's more, many fathers raise their sons using authoritarian parenting practices (which can include corporal punishment). Black fathers often physically discipline their sons to instill behavioral control and to prepare their sons for a society that will surveil them and not be forgiving when it comes to any youthful transgressions.

"I'm fairly sure Adrian Peterson's intent, from what I can see at this point, was not an evil one. He texted his concerns and his ambivalence, and he made it public," says Brewster, who worries about both a "witch hunt" and potential criminal-justice fallout. According to a Sports Illustrated legal analysis, if convicted, Peterson could face punishment ranging from 180 days to 10 years in prison.

"Even if he were guilty of an indiscretion, do we put him in jail or do we make him a better citizen?" asks Brewster, who believes that parenting and discipline classes, family therapy, or periodic supervision would be more helpful. "The United States locks up and punishes people at a much faster rate than any other nation. There's a price to pay for that, particularly in these areas, which are more gray and ambiguous than we might think."

Says Gourdine: "What we hear in the media is never the whole story. We should be extremely careful not to rush to judgment."

Hilary Beard is co-author of "Promises Kept" and "Health First! The Black Woman's Wellness Guide," which won a 2013 NAACP Image Award. This column first appeared on The Root.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved.

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