Once again media reporters have successfully extracted information from one story and created a completely unrelated narrative for one reason: to pit one group of parents against another. Sorry, but I won’t bite.
What Adrian Peterson reportedly did to his child had nothing to do with spanking. If the photos of his son are real, Adrian beat his young boy, thus committing child abuse. When a father (or any other person) leaves multiple welts on a child’s body- arms, legs, bottom and in this case, the child’s scrotum, created from a stick or other tool, this is not spanking, it is abuse.
So let’s be crystal clear about one thing: the term “spanking” as most people understand it, is far removed from what this father reportedly did to his son. Let’s look at the difference between abusing a child and spanking him.
As a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a Pediatrician certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, I am well aware of what these organizations say about spanking. They have denounced it as a reasonable form of discipline because many parents do not have the ability to control their tempers and separate discipline of their child from their own anger. When this is the case, none of us should condone spanking as a means of discipline. I have many parents in my practice that should never spank their children because they (the parents) are wholly unable to control their anger and frustration and are at risk for harming their children.
Many parents, on the other hand, can control their emotions and feel it is necessary to use different forms of discipline with each of their children. The truth is, every child responds uniquely to life situations and requires a different form of discipline than another.
Below, I have outlined what reasonable parents and physicians refer to when defining spanking as an alternative disciplinary tool. There are critical components detailed – none of which were present when Mr. Peterson hit his child.