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What this sports star did to his child is not discipline. This is abuse.

By SHAUNA ANDERSON

Warning: This post deals with child abuse and contains images and descriptions that may be distressing for some readers.

He is still playing and being paid.

It seems in some states of the USA it’s ok to beat a four-year old child till he is scarred.

To whip a harmless four-year old boy leaving him with open cuts on his legs, bruises on his back, bleeding cuts to his scrotum.

Defensive wounds to his hands.

To stuff his mouth full of leaves, craft yourself a weapon and strike your son.

To use as a defence for the injuries the fact that the abuse was done out of love.

That “Daddy has a big heart“ but that his kids aren’t permitted to “play no games when it comes to acting right.”

Daddy has to be kidding himself right?

And to make matters worse this highly paid sports star who inflicted the violence is still playing football, still being paid and actually being defended in some quarters as just performing his parental right.

The abuser – I can use that term because he has admitted to hitting his son- is a high profile American football player, Adrian Peterson who plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

The victim – his four-year old son who told police “Daddy hit me on the face.”

Peterson was indicted on a child abuse charge on Friday in his home state of Texas. As the 29-year old sports star turned himself in to police details emerged of the beating.

The ‘whooping’.

The horrific injuries.

According to CBS Houston, Peterson told police the ‘whooping’ took place in May when his four-year old son son was on a visit to his Texas home.

Peterson is the father to seven different children – from various different women.

His four-year old son had pushed another one of Peterson’s children off a video game. Peterson punished the boy for his actions.

He said he broke off a tree branch which he called a “switch”, stripped the branch of its leaves and then repeatedly beat the boy.

The text messages

Peterson then sent a text message to the mother of his son saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch,” he wrote according to CBS.

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In further text messages, the football star said he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting i (sic) thigh” and that he “got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”.

And then the justification with a text message “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”

“Daddy has a whooping room”

“Daddy hit me in the face”

Not surprisingly Peterson’s son has a different version of events.

A less polished, rawer, realer version.

A version heartbreaking to read.

The little boy told police that his father put leaves in his mouth when he was being hit with the ‘switch’ while his pants were down.

CBS Houston reports that he told his mother that his dad “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.”

He said his Dad hit him on the face, but that he was fearful to tell the police as he was scared of retribution.

Peterson’s justification.

For the football star it seems his main justification is love, and the fact that his parents “whooped” him when he was young.

He simply doesn’t think it is wrong.

It’s a reflection of how violence repeats itself through generations, hurting the weakest and most vulnerable – and a case of corporal punishment being neatly labeled as ‘discipline’, ‘punishment’, ‘a spanking’.

Rather than what it really is – child abuse.

A statement by his lawyer Rusty Hardin to ESPN said:

“Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened. He has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours.

And then the abuser’s remorse with the words “Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”

“Never intended to harm his son?”

Peterson’s home in Texas where the “whooping” took place.

You have to wonder how even the craftiest lawyer could claim that.

When a man deliberately picked branch from a tree.

Calculatingly stripped it bare of leaves.

Systematically crafted a weapon with which to strike him.

It’s difficult to fathom how a nation can accept this abuse – and it was abuse. Deliberate, Calculating. Systematic.

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While Peterson is facing the legal system in his hometown of Texas, he is also facing the court of public opinion.

Public Opinion

The nation seems divided with many voicing the opinion that what Peterson did is indefensible.

However some saw his ways as being a part of his parental right.

The Huffington Post reports that high –profile former basketball star Charles Barkley publicly came to Peterson’s defence saying,

“I’m from the South. Whipping is … we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is gonna be in jail under those circumstances. I think we have to be careful letting people dictate how they treat their children.”

And many (horrifyingly) backed him up

Sports stars such as Charles Barkley defended the actions of Peterson.

If Adrian Peterson is getting indicted for spanking his son with a twig, my parents should be held in a maximum security prison right now.” Tweeted one supporter.

“Absolutely ridiculous!!! This country is going to crap fast! Discipline your child and get in trouble. What a joke!!!” wrote another.

In fact the tide of opinion seems to so divided that Peterson has even been reinstated to his team – and will run on the field this Sunday for the Vikings, his team saying

“This is a difficult path to navigate regarding the judgment of how a parent disciplines his child.”

Overnight Mark Dayton the governor of Minnesota called on the Vikings football team to suspend Adrian Peterson while he awaits trial.

Americans see ‘spanking’ as ok

Peterson will play football this Sunday.

According to ABC News between 70% and 90% of Americans admit to using some form of physical force when disciplining their kids.

In every state parents can spank their children if the force is reasonable.

The facts of the case surrounding Adrian Peterson are still emerging daily – with reports now he had been investigated for beating another of his children.

But what isn’t defensible is the fact that this wasn’t reasonable.

This was abuse. Pure and simple.

We will keep you updated with further developments in this case.