Ever since reports came out about Adrian Peterson abusing his child, many came to his defense. Some proclaim: “who is anyone to tell another person how to raise their child?” Others cited how they were treated as children, to justify Peterson’s actions.
Even most of whom criticise Peterson’s abuse, distinguish how the severity of the beating makes Peterson’s actions a crime. In the face of this momentum I will explain how all of these sentiments are fallacious.
Who am I to tell you how to raise your child?
I am a citizen, that participates in creating and abiding by the social contract our collective minds and cultures have created. The goal of our social contract is to create a system which justly empowers all people to contribute to our culture. Meaning, your culture is not absolute and for that matter, neither is mine.
However, I am fully with in the norm of social living to proclaim any behaviour, especially abuse, as an unacceptable action. So long story short, I am a being which shares space with you and your creations and therefore am afforded the ability to pressure you to act in a way which I deem acceptable.
“My parents beat me and I deserved it. Parents need to be able to discipline their children.”
This is perhaps the most unfounded justification for Peterson’s actions. Parents are not infallible, society is not infallible and more broadly people are not infallible. People make decisions based on the best information available to them; your parents were told beating their child would make you listen to their dictates.
While they were right, in some cases it made for obedient children but the far greater outcomes of physical discipline are: perpetuation of violence, greater likelihood of becoming depressed and lowered self-worth.
The primary fallacy with this statement is physical confrontation is not the only method of disciplining. There are many methods of disciple which don’t come with the side effects of physical discipline. Here are seven methods to replace physical discipline.
“Hit a child once with a switch and they’ll remember that discipline. You don’t have to hit a four year old 30+ times.”
The issue here is; no one has to hit anyone, with anything to discipline. That sentiment establishes there is a reasonable amount of times to hit your child. I know to the people who make comments like the quoted sentence, my critique sounds like the typical pacifist hippie thing to proclaim.
However, generalisations aside, children are people too. We, as a society, don’t accept violence against any segment of the population. With the Ray Rice situation we acknowledge his actions are totally wrong because he was violent to a woman. What differentiates Peterson’s actions from Rice’s?
Children are people too, with full rights to freedom from violence and abuse, no violence towards children is acceptable.