And then Adrian Peterson happened.
Adrian Peterson, already facing felony charges in Texas for child abuse, was accused in a previous incident involving another son who was 4 years old, KHOU-TV in Houston has reported. They are allegations the Minnesota Vikings running back's lawyer says were unfounded and more than a year old.The Peterson incident has "sparked a nationwide debate on how parents should/should not discipline their children", and has also sparked a million examples of culturally unaware white media members trying to explain what a "switch" is.
KHOU cited text messages that reportedly include a photo of the son with an apparent head wound covered by bandages. Houston TV station KHOU reported Adrian Peterson was previously accused of child abuse in a separate incident involving another son who was 4 years old.
Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child on Friday. The prosecution in the ongoing case was aware of the June 2013 incident, a source familiar with the case told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Peterson, who apologized in a statement Monday for "the hurt I have brought to my child," also said he will testify in court that he did not intend to harm his son and said he is "without a doubt, not a child abuser."
The Houston TV station reported that the mother of the 4-year-old -- who is different from the mother of the child he stands charged with abusing -- filed a report with Child Protective Services, but no charges were brought.
Peterson attorney Rusty Hardin said in a statement that the accusation was more than a year old and that "authorities took no action."
"An adult witness admittedly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son," Hardin said in the statement to media.
The Vikings released a statement Monday night, saying they would "defer any further questions" from the media regarding the accusations to Hardin.
"As part of the information we have gathered throughout this process, we were made aware of an allegation from 2013 in which authorities took no action against Adrian," the Vikings said in the news release.
The reported text exchange was as follows, according to KHOU-TV:
Mother: "What happened to his head?"
Peterson: "Hit his head on the Carseat."
More from ESPN.com
By letting Adrian Peterson return, the Vikings and the NFL are sending the message that winning trumps social responsibility, even if they say otherwise, Kevin Seifert writes. Story
Mother: "How does that happen, he got a whoopin in the car."
Peterson: "I felt so bad. But he did it his self."
According to the report, Peterson then goes on to say he was disciplining his son for cursing at a sibling, though how specifically the child was wounded wasn't made clear.
Mother: "What did you hit him with?"
Peterson never directly answered, the report said, but later replied: "Be still n take ya whooping he would have saved the scare [scar]. He aight [all right]."
When asked about the 2013 accusation, Peterson's father, Nelson, said, "I haven't seen that report. I haven't heard any allegations."
Peterson has faced heavy criticism for his use of a so-called switch to discipline the other son, but the running back said in the statement released Monday that he "never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son."
I grew up in the South. And growing up in the South, in the 70/80s meant that sometimes when your grandparents needed to discipline you, they sent you behind the house to "pick a switch". I'll note that my parents didn't even (to my best recollection) deploy this style of punishment, but they were well aware my grandparents did. It was simply a traditional style of discipline, passed down from generations. It was not necessarily any more painful than a belt, but it was more humiliating, and certainly seemed to get the point across. I don't think I got "the switch" more than 4-5 times as a kid. The message was effectively relayed.
Many who are defending Peterson seem to echo the same sentiments: This is just what black parents in the South do/did and isn't child abuse. I think that's where I disagree. Using a switch isn't "child abuse" in and of itself. But using the switch to the point that blood is drawn and welts are visible days later is definitely child abuse. Peterson overdid it (something he acknowledged) and will/probably should face charges. He took it too far. There's a thin line between discipline and abuse, and he crossed it. It should also be noted that his childrens' mothers waited awhile to report the incidents, but well, that's another topic for another day.
[Editor's Note: BTW, AP, you have (at least) 7 kids now. You're a 30 For 30 episode of "Broke" just waiting to happen. Wear a condom, my n*gga. For real. #PullOutForWhat]
One subtext that's really disturbed me about this incident has been the scores of black people insisting that "getting the switch" is good, because they got it, and it "worked". I think that's shortsighted, plantation thinking at best, self-hatred at worst. I mean, come on, sure it "worked", but so might have a million and one other discipline techniques, from "being on punishment", to losing toys/TV time, to the proverbial "time out". Just because something "worked" doesn't mean it was the best way to handle the situation. I could use a hammer to kill a fly, but a flyswatter would probably work just as well and not cause as much damage to my granite countertops.
I don't know how prevalent "the switch" still is as a disciplinary tool in black households. My wife and I don't use it (although we do spank our children when the need occasionally arises). I'd be interesting in your thoughts.
Question: Did you parents use "the switch"? Do you still use it? Did Peterson overdo it?