NEW YORK (CBS Houston/AP) — NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley claims that black parents in the South “whip” their children.
Barkley defended Adrian Peterson after the Minnesota Vikings running back was charged with child abuse, stating that black parents who live in the South spank their children.
“Whipping – we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances,” Barkley admitted to CBS’ “NFL Today” on Sunday.
Barkley said that there is a “fine line” between spanking a child and child abuse.
“I’ve had many welts on my legs. I’ve gotten beat with switches – and I don’t even like the term,” Barkley stated. “When the media talks about it, ‘beating a child,’ … we called it ‘spanking’ or ‘whipping’ our kids.”
Pictures of Peterson’s 4-year-old son shows open cuts and welts after the Vikings running back admitted to authorities that he used a switch – or branch – to discipline his child. Barkley called those pictures “disturbing.”
“Sure. I think those pictures are disturbing. And I think Adrian said, ‘I went overboard.’ But as far as being from the South, we all spanked our kids,” Barkley told “NFL Today.” “I got spanked, me and my two brothers.”
Barkley added: “But I think we have to really be careful trying to teach other parents how to discipline their kids. That’s a very fine line.”
In the eyes of a Texas grand jury, Peterson crossed the line when he repeatedly struck his son with a tree branch, or switch, in May. Peterson’s attorney has said he has never run from what happened — and that Peterson was inflicting the same discipline he endured as a child.
“Obviously, parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Phil Grant said about 12 hours after Peterson was booked and released from jail on $15,000 bond. He is charged with causing injury to a child age 14 or younger.
Peterson flew from Minnesota to Houston in the early morning hours after authorities indicted him on Friday evening. He has a home in both locations.
The Vikings deactivated him for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, and NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said on Saturday that Peterson’s case “will be reviewed under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.”
Peterson’s case is complicated by his stance that he meant his son no harm but rather was applying the same discipline he experienced growing up.
“Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas,” Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said.
Steve Eudey, who coached Peterson as a young boy in Palestine, Texas, and has remained a family friend, said he has heard stories from Peterson about his father Nelson “being a firm disciplinarian.”
“Some of the things his dad did to him was to make him tough,” Eudey told The Associated Press.
Eudey said he had yet to speak to Peterson since his arrest, but said his actions were consistent with the type of upbringing he had.
“I will go to my grave defending Adrian, but at the same time you can’t harm a child, either,” Eudey said. “I know that was never his intent.”
Grant, the Texas prosecutor, said the grand jury felt the charge was warranted after spending several weeks reviewing “lots of evidence.”
It’s not unusual for people subjected to physical discipline as children to use corporal punishment against their own children, experts say, and courts will sometimes consider that as a mitigating factor when sentencing an abuser. Peterson faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if found guilty.
News of Peterson’s charges led several prominent athletes to tweet about their experiences with corporal punishment when they were children.
“Am I the only one that got hit with a switch? I had to go outside and pick my own switch. It taught values, respect (and) accountability,” former NBA star Tracy McGrady said. But he later qualified those remarks, tweeting, “Disciplining a child is vital. Of course any early physical punishment should be within reason, not overboard, and inside certain boundaries.”
While the legal process plays out, the NFL is facing a potential test case for the tougher penalties it declared last month for players involved with domestic violence.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced an initial offense will draw a six-week suspension without pay, though “more severe discipline will be imposed if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child.”
It is not clear if Peterson’s case will invoke those penalties.
Corporal punishment is legal in Texas, and the law spells out that non-deadly force against a child by a parent or guardian is permissible.
But the punishment is abusive if it causes injury. While a blow that causes a red mark that fades in an hour is not likely to be judged abusive, a blow that leaves a bruise, welt, or swelling, or requires medical attention, could be judged abusive. The child’s injuries will likely be under scrutiny as the case proceeds.
The guidelines also say while spanking with the bare, open hand is least likely to be abusive, use of an instrument “is cause for concern.”
The Vikings — and the league — will likely face scrutiny as they decide whether Peterson returns to the field as the legal process plays out. Monday the Vikings announced that Peterson will likely play on Sunday versus the New Orleans Saints.
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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