Corporal Punishment, it even sounds scary

Adrian Peterson got caught doing something wrong, plain and simple. He spanked/beat his 4 year-old son to the point of injury. The public out-cries for his head on a platter are loud and many. I’m sure there will be a price to be paid and it should be so. How this should be handled has generated as many opinions as there are #hashtags, including some very harsh ones from all the keyboard pundits.
I will go out on a limb here and say I agree with Charles Barkley’s comments about how this is something that is more widespread than most realize. But does this mean we must make them all criminals?
I will go out a little farther and say use of physical punishment is not unique to any one race/culture. I think it can be more closely tied to education, social/economic conditions and traditions passed down – “this-is-how-my-parents-did-it” sort of mentality.
I grew up in a time when corporal punishment was okay. Your parents, teachers, coaches and heck, even neighbors could spank you. You were capable of getting swatted with a switch, a belt, a paddle, a ruler or even a wooden spoon. The choices were often defined by what was handy at the time. Did the spanking make us a better person? Maybe, maybe not. There are so many variables. What we now know is that there are better ways to teach our children right from wrong; beating them is not the answer. This is especially true if you happen to be a big, pro athlete in top condition. You are someone who runs over 200-300 pound men. What chance does a child have?
In one of my Forrest Gump/“I’ve-worn-a-lot-of-shoes” moments, I was a bailiff in a Texas State District Court. I was lucky when I worked in the courts; I worked for some pretty intelligent judges. In one court setting in particular, all the child abuse cases were reviewed. That was a very challenging job and not as cut and dry as one may think. Yes, there were some brutal cases and those were dealt with as prescribed by law. However, many times there were gray areas. Sometimes bad things happened because someone didn’t know any better. As hard as that may be to understand and accept, it does happen. It was at such times that a positive change could be made; the cycle of abuse could be broken. It required learning proper parenting skills, perhaps some anger management and/or some basic reprogramming. All this often happened under close supervision and review by the court. It was a matter of learning good family dynamics and most often, it worked out to everyone’s advantage, with a more positive ending.
The judicial system can be harsh, and with a bang of the gavel and a signature, it can make someone a felon for life. In today’s judiciary, felons are rarely viewed as having paid for their crime; it’s more or less a life sentence. When that happens, life changes; it makes it hard to get a job, a home and provide the basic necessities of life. Life as they and their family knew it will never be the same.
Like I said there will be a price to be paid and that is proper. What I wonder, though, is it prudent to destroy someone’s career/life when they may have actually done some good in their life? Perhaps we should ask ourselves, would we be better off with one less prisoner, and instead, make this one more teaching moment? Perhaps Adrian Peterson and the NFL could be the face and voice of re-educating folks that it’s never okay to beat your kids?
Just a thought…

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