Star NFL Running Back Adrian Peterson, who was scheduled to return to the field this Sunday, has been suspended indefinitely from the Minnesota Vikings, pending resolution of charges that he abused his 4-year-old son. Some NFL players, however, are still defending his actions, which they view as discipline within the discretion of a parent.
Speaking to WFAN, Detroit Lions Running Back Reggie Bush said Peterson “should definitely be allowed to play football.” Bush said Peterson’s actions were consistent with his own upbringing, which included being beaten with a belt.
Bush is also a father, and said “I have a 1-year-old daughter, and I discipline her.” Bush added that he “will try to — obviously not leave bruises or anything like that on her — but I definitely will discipline her harshly depending on, again, what the situation is.” In the interview, Bush said he would consider using a switch, as Peterson did, to discipline his own children.
The use of corporal punishment is controversial, but even some prominent defenders of the practice say it should not be used on infants. In a recent article in TIME entitled “Spanking Can Be An Appropriate Form Of Child Discipline,” Focus On The Family’s Jared Pingleton writes, “Properly understood and administered, spanking is most effective as a deterrent to undesirable behavior for younger preschoolers (but never for infants).”
Spanking is an incredibly common form of discipline in American households. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, more than “90 percent of American families reporting having used spanking as a means of discipline at some time.” The AAP doesn’t rule out the use of spanking, which it defines as striking a child with an open hand without causing physical injury, but distinguishes it from other forms corporal punishment — including striking a child with an object — which it says should never be used. The AAP also says that spanking has proven to be less effective than other non-violent forms of disciplines.
As for the use of spanking among infants, the AAP warns that “spanking children <18 months of age increases the chance of physical injury, and the child is unlikely to understand the connection between the behavior and the punishment.”
Some view increasing skepticism of corporal punishment as racially tinged, since the practice is perceived to be more common in African-American households. Within the African-American community, corporal punishment has both vocal defenders and critics.
Other football players have also expressed support for Peterson, saying that they experienced this type of physical punishment when they were growing up.
Reggie Bush responds to his critics on Twitter:
— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) September 17, 2014