Trigger Warning: Child Abuse
In a stunning announcement Friday, Adrian Peterson, a professional football player for the Minnesota Vikings was indicted for child abuse. He allegedly beat his 4 year old son with a switch after the child shoved his brother.
Police reports detail the child's account and it is harrowing. Not only did he get beat with a switch, but claims that belts had been used in the past. Expressed fear of being punched for telling and at one point said "Daddy has a whoopin' room".
Photos taken a week later show red welts and scabbing cuts. Peterson allegedly injured the child's back, buttocks, legs, thighs and scrotum. He also texted the child's mother in what can only be termed a gloating tone. Saying at one point he "got too good with the switch". He admitted to police that he did it and it was discipline.
Today we learned that Peterson's employer, decided to let him play despite the evidence. Relying on 'due process' and the criminal system. It should be noted that Texas CPS has probably already had a "founded" report no matter what happens in the criminal case.
Adrian Peterson is famous and that makes this a sensational case, but he's certainly not the only child abuser in the country. The injuries that he inflicted on his four year old son are horrible and it's almost impossible not to be furious at what happened to that child. Sadly that child is not alone. Peterson's excuse that he was just disciplining the way he was disciplined is an all too familiar refrain.
(Bloggers note: Some details have been altered to protect confidentiality)
The first time I met Adrian Peterson, the name wasn't Adrian Peterson. I honestly don't remember what the name was. I remember the little girl whose eyes were swollen shut and whose forehead skin was scalded almost to the bone. The child had put too much 'grease' in her hair so as a punishment she was held face up under scalding (150 degree) tap water. That was 1995.
In the most recent reporting year there were 3.4 million reports of child abuse and neglect made to hotlines around the country. Of those 1.8 million were opened as investigations. On those 1.8 million cases there were 3.1 million unique children. There are 32,000 Child Protective Service Workers in the US. 32,000 people investigating 1.8 million cases. It's safe to say we've all met Adrian Petersen.
In 1999 Adrian Peterson was a mom's boyfriend who beat a 2 year old so severely that the blood beneath the skin was trapped by the diaper he was wearing. When the diaper was removed it looked like the kid was wearing brown, red and purple underwear. He was mad about potty training.
Potty training is one of the most dangerous times in child development. The risk of abuse over and during potty training rises dramatically. In the last twenty years I can attest to a mound of anecdotal evidence of abuse during potty training. Anybody who does this job can relate to it.
In 2001, Adrian Peterson was a guy gave a 3 year old a cookie when she performed oral sex on him. Turns out that was a pattern of abuse that had gone on for years with other 3 year olds and younger children. He's in prison for the rest of his life.
In 2012 there were over 62,000 children reported to have been sexually abused. The number is probably significantly higher. Some states report sexual abuse directly to police. Some types of sexual abuse aren't counted in the Manual of Child Maltreatment. Sexual abuse by teachers for instance in many states aren't reported to CPS.
Adrian Peterson was a teenage mom in 2008. She was arguing with her mom and snatched her baby out of his car seat dislocating his shoulder. She didn't know why he wouldn't stop crying and proceeded to slap his face. The police were called, nobody caught the dislocation for 2 days.
Twenty five percent of children who are abused experience teen pregnancy. Of those parenting teens fully 30% of them will abuse or neglect their child at some point in the future.
Peterson is the guy that blackened his son's eye in 2010 when the kid tried to keep his dad from beating his mom. Arrests were made but no charges were pressed. The kid was old enough that while he was certainly at risk, he wasn't in immediate danger.
As we've discussed before. Domestic abusers are 50% more likely to abuse a child as well.
Adrian Peterson is the policeman, the firefighter, the teacher, the doctor that delivered your baby. Adrian Peterson is a single mom on welfare. Adrian Peterson is a millionaires wife popping illegal prescriptions. Adrian Peterson is your mail carrier, your next door neighbor and your best friend.
Everybody who investigates child abuse has met Adrian Peterson or will at some point in their career. We all wish that child abuse would end and we'd no longer be needed to protect the most vulnerable in our midst. We're all smart enough to know better. Adrian Peterson was out there today and he'll be out there tomorrow. We'll tackle him as we go.