Adrian Peterson Controversy: Is It Okay to Spank Your Children?

Corporal punishment at home is illegal in more than 30 countries – but not in the United States

Photo: Getty

To spank or not to spank?

In the wake of the child abuse allegations brought against Adrian Peterson, the question of whether to use corporal punishment has once again taken the national spotlight.

The Minnesota Vikings running back was charged last week with felony injury to a child after using a switch – a tree branch stripped of its leaves – to discipline his 4-year-old son. Police photos show the child with cuts and bruises.

“I am not a perfect parent,” Peterson wrote in a statement released on Twitter. “But I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser.”

He added: “Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person.”

Spanking – with an open hand or an object like a paddle or switch – is not illegal in the United States, as it is in more than 30 other countries, including Sweden, Bulgaria and Kenya, CNN reports.

More than 100 nations have banned corporal punishment in schools, according to NPR, but in 19 U.S. states it remains legal for teachers to take a paddle to a child.

Peterson, 29, insists that he didn’t mean to harm his son, adding that the punishment he delivered was no different than anything he received as a child.

“He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas,” Peterson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin said in his statement.

But times have changed. What was once seen as acceptable punishment is now widely regarded by experts to be “ineffective, even dangerous,” reports.

Studies show the ill effects of corporal punishment: It can lower I.Q. and raise the likelihood of depression, spousal abuse, and crime. Adults who were spanked as kids are more likely to earn less money and exhibit violent behavior.

Yet, parents still do it. writes that 94 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds “have been spanked at least once during the past year” and 74 percent of mothers “believe spanking is acceptable for kids ages 1 to 3.”

“Whipping, we do that all the time,” Charles Barkley said while addressing the controversy on CBS Sports’s The NFL Today. “Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances.”

If convicted, Peterson faces up to two years in prison.

“I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate,” he said in his statement.

Tell us: Do you think it’s okay to spank your kids? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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