Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been indicted for child abuse, but I’m not sure what to say about this:
Adrian Peterson has been informed that he was indicted by a grand jury in Montgomery County, Texas for Injury to a Child. The charged conduct involves using a switch to spank his son. This indictment follows Adrian’s full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. 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. Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning. It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.
Speaking as a veteran of being disciplined with a switch, I can say that this was one of the more traumatizing forms of punishment in childhood.
All of you out there know what a switch is, right? It’s a very thin branch, maybe a yard long that makes the most horrible noise, mini-whiplike, when you swing it through the air. As a kid, you make sure you aren’t wearing shorts, ever, because if you did something wrong and your mom told you to “Get me a switch,” you didn’t want to have any exposed skin.
That’s the other thing about the switch, you had to go to the bush and pick out the weapon that was going to be used on you. And getting hit by the switch was horrible. There’s no way to defend yourself. Your parent would go for the legs, and if you tried to block it with your arm the switch cuts into your skin. So you ended up running around and having your mom say “Don’t you run away from me!” If you had a choice between the switch and the belt, take the belt, because the switch really stung.
So, yeah. The switch was horrible. I felt its sting in Ohio and New York and South Carolina and anyplace else I screwed up as a kid and an adult was nearby. And I’m not the only one who knows about the switch:
So a lot of us know about it, but we would have never imagined calling the police. If that was the case, my mother, my grandmother, my aunt, my uncle, my father my cousin, my brothers, my sisters and an occasional babysitter would all have been in jail.
No, strike that. That wouldn’t have happened, because if I’d called the cops, the officers would have showed up, heard my parent say, “Hell, yeah, I used the switch because the boy did X, Y, or Z.” And the result would be the cop would agree with the adult and probably get a switch and use it on me, too.
That said, I never used a switch on my kid. That was one of those things from childhood that I swore I would never do as an adult. But I’m not surprised that it’s still used as a form of discipline.
I guess what surprises me most about the Adrian Peterson indictment is that this happened in Texas. That’s like “spare the rod and spoil the child” ground zero. I’d think switches were the state flower. (Yeah, OK, it’s the yellow rose, but you get the point.) I can’t see this going to trial in east Texas. The jury would say “Not Guilty” in a heartbeat and get a switch to use on the kid for calling the police.
There’s actually a pretty good piece on the Vikings blog Daily Norseman that comes to the same conclusion as I do. Unless Peterson went overboard and left bleeding welts on the kid and put him in the hospital, I don’t see how he gets convicted. And I’m as anti-corporal punishment as you can get.
But don’t get me started on being whipped with an extension cord. That’s what we kids got when the switch wasn’t available.