One wonders what sports writer Gary Washburn was thinking when he declared in his column that, after seeing photos of Adrian Peterson’s son’s “spanking,” he deemed it “borderline child abuse” (“Cultural divide is clear,” Sports, Sept. 23). Having viewed those same photos of the open skin that resulted from a severe thrashing with a switch, I can’t imagine characterizing it as either a spanking or borderline abuse. Washburn should call it what it is: child abuse.
Yes, in the not-so-distant past, many cultures in our country condoned and encouraged children being hit or beaten. To use that as an excuse now is similar to saying that Jim Crow laws were cultural in nature, and thus we need to understand how some people might still want to abide by or accept them.
Parents have a tough job when it comes to teaching kids right from wrong, but the goal is always to be a loving role model and consistent disciplinarian. Leaving an open wound on a 4-year-old is not a loving act. In fact, brain science demonstrates the significant effects of child maltreatment on the developing mind. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study, funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that angry and aggressive acts against children cause long-lasting negative effects well into adulthood.
At the Children’s Trust, we fund parenting education programs across the state that give parents the tools, information, and confidence they need to raise healthy kids. Let’s focus on how we can prevent abuse from happening, and move away from condoning hurtful practices.
The writer is executive director of the Children’s Trust.