Child disciplining and especially corporeal punishments have come into the spotlight after the indictment of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The player allegedly punished his 4 year old son by using a wooden switch, claiming that he only acted as his father did when he was young.
Physical discipline has been on the downswing in the United States in recent years, although it remains common especially in rural areas. Spanking, especially, seems to still be condoned in both homes and schools.
While it is still technically legal in all 50 states to corporeally punish one’s children, these physical punishments may not be excessive. In Delaware, for instance, a piece of legislature was passed in 2012 containing specific criteria for corporeal punishment: it may not cause injury or pain to the child. Other states apart from Delaware have also attempted to pass legislative bans, but until now these have failed to pass.
As opposed to punishment at home, only nineteen states allow that public and private schools use force in punishing students. According to a 2009 study, around 184,530 students were physically disciplined in schools across the United States that year, and boys were more likely to receive such punishments than girls.
Parents’ opinions, on the other hand, are also varied and range from complete support (81 percent of Americans were shown to support children spanking in a Harris poll) to complete disapproval. When admitting to having spanked their own children, parents included in the same poll claim to have not used physical discipline with their sons or daughters in one third of the cases.
Psychological studies have also been conducted to assess the influence of physical punishment in the development of children and their mental health. Results have been mixed. According to a 2012 study, for instance, significant physical punishment practices such as shoving, slapping, hitting, pushing, grabbing and other similar behaviors in non-abusive households had significant influence on child development. The study was published in the Journal of Pediatrics and suggested that the odds of developing mood, anxiety or personality disorders increase greatly when such behavior occurs. Additionally, the study also showed that destructive behaviors such as alcohol abuse or drug addiction is more likely to be observed in adults that were physically disciplined when children.
What now remains to be determined is whether or not Pearson will experience additional turmoil after the harsh comments he has received following the events and whether parents U.S.-over will condemn or understand his actions.