Adrian Peterson and Parenting

When Texas Child Protective Services charged Minnesota Vikings All-Pro Running Back Adrian Peterson with child abuse for disciplining his 4 year old son by hitting him with a tree branch they were protecting both the child, and the child's family for a healthy future.  To learn about how courts must view child discipline that can be abusive read about the best interests of the child standard and how it works at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1957143.
Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson Admires Pro Gamers
Peterson, however, would also be helped by a philosophy of parenting that includes marrying the mother of his child for the best protection for his children and their future. For more on this concept and how it protects children get the free download of "Rethinking Mom and Dad" at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462112.
Families are restored when parents do what is truly in the best interests of their children.


  1. Although some parents believe in physically disciplining their children, physically disciplining a four year old is certainly inappropriate.

  2. We may think it is horrible for a father with the physic of a professional football player to hit a four year old boy. This is just one incident. I remain a skeptical view on the court (any government agency) reaching into parent-child relationship.
    There are societies and civilization that have developed over thousand years that some measure of physical discipline is necessary for the best interests of the child.
    This is an area that a bright line rule would be difficult to draw.

  3. "Environmental factors" outside the abuser-defendant's control should never be an excuse for the crimes they commit. But it's important to realize that Peterson comes from this type of background. His parents whipped him with switches as a child (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/vikings/2014/09/15/adrian-peterson-minnesota-vikings-child-abuse-whippings-indictment-son/15696169/). It's inexcusable to inflict this kind of disproportionate bodily harm on a 4-year-old. Perhaps Adrian Peterson had similar welts on his legs when he was four. In that case, the sentence he receives should take that into account.

    1. If we follow this line of reasoning, why not apply it to murderers and rapists? Would that lead to a just system? According to whom?
      What kind of message does this send to victims? There are many (too many) families that have suffered generations of abuse. Environmental factors and upbringing certainly help explain that. However, lessening sentences because of such factors certainly won't fix the problem.

      If it is inexcusable to inflict disproportionate harm upon another (and in most cases, any harm at all), then a sentence should not take into account factors that are remote in time and no justification for bad conduct.

      I think we should discipline our children. But we should be careful in sending a message that punishment for criminal conduct (not necessarily the conduct here) can be mitigated if a perpetrator has suffered the same abuse.

  4. I don't condone parents using free-handed corporal punishment for minor behavioral offenses or the use of any physical beating severe enough to break the (4 year old!) child's skin and leave the kind of wounds Mr. Peterson inflicted on his son. That being said, if a parent chooses to spank their children it should be left to their discretion. While in most circumstances it certainly seems like an ineffective and lazy form of parenting there may be some particularly egregious situations where the parent may find it appropriate, and that should be the decision of the parents.

  5. When it comes to corporal punishment there is a fine line between discipline and abuse and there does not seem to be a bright-line rule. In Harbaugh v. Commonwealth, the Virginia Supreme Court instructs the court to consider “the age, size and conduct of the child, the nature of the misconduct, and the kind of marks or wounds inflicted on the body of the child.” In this case, I think it is fair to say that Peterson crossed the line when he left welts on his four year old son.