A Child of Adrian Peterson

A Child of Adrian Peterson Reading the news requires stamina. Some stories leave me speechless, for awhile, stunned by the language used, our priorities, or our comfortable blinders. But the absurdity surrounding Adrian Peterson’s beating of his four-year-old son stands out. Alarms sound.

Peterson delivered a vicious assault on a small boy. You can read more about it here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/chi-adrian-peterson-appeals-ban-goodell-recusal-requested-20141120-story.html.  Given the extent and severity of the child’s physical wounds, a Texas Court indicted his father for “felony injury to a child.” He pleaded no contest to “misdemeanor reckless assault,” assuming his suspension since the indictment from playing football, albeit with full salary, would end. Instead, suspended by the NFL Commissioner without pay for the remainder of this season, an outraged Peterson is appealing the ruling with the full backing of the players’ union of the National Football League. Huddled around one of its own, this fraternity of power deems the ongoing suspension “unprecedented, arbitrary, and unlawful.” Wouldn’t those terms be better applied to his crime?  For more from Peterson since his season-ending suspension, you can note the change in his approach here: espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11911885/adrian-peterson-suspended-minnesota-vikings-running-back-apologizes-physical-abuse-son.

What about the child? What about Peterson’s other children? What about children, period? Why is any attention devoted to football? What if Peterson had assaulted an adult—how would that charge read? Why wasn’t he prosecuted? What if he were a farmer? How would Peterson react if someone else had beaten his child? Is a four-year-old a person? Who will speak for him?

I Bullyingthought of the beaten boy when I read this anti-bullying sign, posted prominently in a school I visited recently. When he starts school, what will he think of similar posters? “We will tell an adult when someone needs help,” rule 4 demands. Will he tell any adult? Bullying remains, for over twenty years, teachers' most-requested discussion topic when I meet with their students. My conversations with children focus on bullying among their peers, as does my writing—bullies looming in the hallway, waiting at lockers, striking fear on teams and school buses. I pictured the playground or bathroom when I wrote: “Bullying poses a serious threat to the joys of childhood, calling for our immediate attention and determined action to end it. When you listen to children talking about the damage inflicted by bullies, it is impossible to ignore the problem. A bully hunts out the weak and vulnerable and exhibits a special kind of cruelty. Whether or not the child has been hurt physically, the psychological wounds are long-lasting. The victim lives in fear and learns despair much too early…. In the bully’s mind, no rules apply to them.”  Now the concluding phrase "bullies grow up" takes on fresh meaning. (www.littlebigminds.com)

Who should be shaken by this one example of child abuse, its handling, the debate about whether Peterson should play football this year? Anyone who is a parent…anyone who loves a child. Indeed, anyone who was ever a child. Anyone.