Reality Check: Peterson case reignites spanking debate - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Reality Check: Peterson case reignites spanking debate

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is accused of spanking his son with a tree branch. (Image source: KARE/CNN) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is accused of spanking his son with a tree branch. (Image source: KARE/CNN)
(FOX19) -

Charges of felony child abuse against Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson have re-ignited the debate over corporal punishment in America.

The conversation brings up the following questions: Who is more likely to spank their kids and who's not? What's the long-term impact of corporal punishment? What's the law of the land here in the Tri-State?

Corporal punishment has been a hot topic among researchers for decades. There are numerous studies available from all over the U.S. and all around the world, for that matter. Among their findings:

  • Over the past 20-years fewer parents are spanking their kids.
  • Born-again Christians are more likely to spank their kids than non-religious parents.
  • Parents in southern states are more likely to spank their kids than parents in the northeast.
  • Republicans are more likely to spank their kids than either democrats or independents.
  • Spanking can result in harmful side effects that last well beyond the moment of discipline.

Whether or not to spank remains every parent's right, but when does that right become a case of child abuse? FOX19 NOW put that question to our legal analyst Mike Allen.

"The statutes are kind of all over the place but at the end of the day it comes down to the reasonableness of the action," Allen tells us.

Allen say here in Ohio, as well as Kentucky and Indiana, parents can punish a child with a hand, with a belt, or even with a switch provided the punishment is not "cruel" and does not go on for a "prolonged period of time." Both of which are difficult to prove in a court of law.

"These are tough cases from a prosecutor's perspective, they really are. I think that's one of the reasons why you don't see a lot of prosecutions for this," adds Allen.

In his defense, Adrian Peterson said quote: "I never intended to hurt my child." Allen tells FOX19 NOW that "intent" can play a role in determining whether a parent is guilty of abusing a child.

The bottom line is this: The debate over corporal punishment is likely to go on and on, but the fact remains: Parents here in the Tri-State have a legal right to discipline a child as they see fit, whether by hand, or by implement. Just so long as the punishment is "reasonable" under the law. And that's Reality Check.

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