In the case of Adrian Peterson, the high-profile running back for the Minnesota Vikings who was indicted on child abuse charges and deactivated from the team, Peterson said he disciplined his 4-year-old son with a switch. Peterson maintains that he loves his son, admits that he disciplined his son, but is not a child abuser. Pictures of the child showed wounds on his body from the switch.
“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,” a lawyer for Peterson said in a statement.
So here’s where the cultural aspect of this case comes into play: Right or wrong, Peterson is a product of his own upbringing and I believe a Black woman – or man – who specializes in domestic violence issues will bring an important cultural perspective to the discussion that others may not.
Charles Barkley, the former NBA star. who I rarely agree with, said correctly that most Black folks in the South whip their kids.
“I’m from the South. Whipping is … we do that all the time,” the former basketball star who was born and raised in Leeds, Alabama, said. “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.”
In this case, Barkley is right. When I was growing up in Detroit, Black kids in my neighborhood were whipped with switches by their parents all the time – myself included – and I never saw anyone from Child Protective Services cruising through the community.
And that’s why the NFL needs African-American domestic violence specialists to help put the Peterson case into the proper cultural perspective. I believe some Black players would be more candid with a Black woman — or a Black man — when talking about these kinds of sensitive and deeply personal issues.
Now, in the case of Ray Rice, this is an open and shut case. Rice, the former running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was suspended indefinitely by the Ravens — and the NFL — after a disturbing video emerged showing a cold and brutal Rice punching his then-fiancée in the head and knocking her unconscious in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City eight months ago.
If there are other NFL players who have been abusive to women – Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer is the latest to be arrested for domestic violence – I’m sure the three women hired by the NFL will make sure these cases are dealt with seriously and swiftly.
In the meantime, while the public awaits the facts in the Peterson case, these highly-trained women will certainly ponder this critical question: When does parental discipline of children in the Black community cross the line into child abuse?
What do you think?