Punishment or Child Abuse

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There is a thin line between punishment and child abuse. Whereas approximately 70% of the Americans have approved corporal punishment, the law has candidly described itself on defining what entails an abusive behavior. The indictment of Adrian Peterson, an NFL player, for negligently injuring a child has provided the country with valuable lessons regarding the entire issue of punishment and abuse.

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Child abuse continues to happen in many households with many disguising it as an acceptable punishment. Research has shown that African Americans have a particular unique history with the issue of corporal punishment. For many years, child beating has been a common tendency among the black families. In an attempt to explain this, psychologists have attempted to give various arguments including its association with slavery. As blacks got involved in slavery, the punishment was primarily used as a way of instilling discipline. As a result, it has been passed over many generations as a practice of promoting good behavior.

Other than the slavery roots, blacks have also utilized biblical connotations in an attempt to justify the punishment. One of the most quoted verse remains Proverbs 13:24 which state that anybody who loves their child should not spare the rod. However, an important question that people need to ask is whether there is a relationship between corporal punishment and discipline. The overriding aim of discipline is to ensure that essential values are transferred to the children. On the contrary, punishment has a coercive element that forces individuals to comply with certain standards, failure to which pain is inflicted as a form of revenge. Most fundamentally, the black culture has several colorful stories in the form of myths that glorify punishment as a moral intervention that has assisted in keeping the society together. Black comedians such as Bill Cosby amongst others have also delved into the discussion citing how the black culture has always believed in punishment.

Abusive actions should not be entertained in the society especially those directed against minors. In 1984 for instance, Marvin Gaye died courtesy of violent actions from his father. Gaye was not only brutalized as a child but also shot dead by his father. Research has shown that children who undergo physical abuse have many problems affecting them. Some of the examples include anxiety, suicidal thoughts, difficulties in sleeping, reduced concentration, and the likelihood to develop risky behavior amongst others. The danger with this type of behavior is that a victim of abusive actions will in most cases become an abuser. Although the problem is significantly high in black communities, victims or perpetrators are less likely to attain therapy because they believe that this makes them appear mentally or emotionally weak. The case of Adrian Peterson, therefore, provides many people with important lessons regarding the position of corporal punishment in legal jurisdictions and society.

In essence, Peterson attempted to prove that the beating they received while they were children had an important function in improving their disciplines. However, the violent nature of his actions and the resultant injuries inflicted on the 4-year-old child raises significant medical and legal questions that must be handled separately. Correctional of children’s misbehavior must remain within the legal and ethical confines. Corporal punishment has no position in modern society. Although it continues to be a menace among the African Americans, the activist groups should influence policies to ensure that potential victims and perpetrators receive the much-needed therapy. In the modern world, there is no justification of violence against a helpless individual such as a child. The law must continue to toughly deal with such criminals who are not only insensitive but also inhuman.

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