The language in today’s Star Tribune describing the bloody whipping of Viking’s star Adrian Peterson’s four year old boy *(Tyrese Robert Ruffin) demonstrates the lengths my community will go to to protect the rights of 250 pound men to brutalize their 45 pound four year old children. MN Vikings Adrian Peterson beat his son repeatedly with a stick and had used belts to beat him on numerous other occasions (the child’s words in the Houston police report).
Beaten savagely by a 240 pound professional athlete, this very young child had leaves stuffed into his mouth and suffered open wounds on his back and buttocks, and a bruised penis. He still had welts a week after the beating.
The Star Tribune today ran two articles about this poor traumatized boy with “not reasonable” and “reactions dwell on line between discipline & abuse” in the titles. Nowhere in the articles is child protection mentioned. It is mostly a discussion about football.
Adrian’s defense was that his father beat him the same way. For the religious among us, “visiting the iniquity (horrors) of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
or the much easier to remember, “like father, like son”.
None of this will help Tyrese become a normal, coping child and there is reason to believe that the he suffers from some behavioral problems already (I would argue a result of the traumas inflicted upon him by his monster of a father).
If you search this blog by, “the states”, you will find that children throughout America live in danger of violence and death with not enough help from their state, county, or federal government. They only get help from the media when they die and someone needs to go to jail.
The only law that protects children at a federal level is the “Imminent Harm Doctrine” which allows a judge to remove a child whose life is endangered by a a caregiver. Judges have great leeway in determining what “imminent harm” means. In MN it means that 80% of children will be abused again while under court supervision and that 29% of abused children will be sent back to the abusive conditions they were rescued from,
To be fair, most states have underfunded courts and child protection systems. We as a people, tend instead to deny resources and blame the social worker when a baby is found in a dumpster – instead of funding programs that might help children.
Instead of the critical thinking which would draw our attention to the vast numbers of children reported abused each year (six million), we seem to prefer an absence of awareness to children’s issues.
Four year old Eric Dean’s recent tortured murder brought about the usual wringing of hands, blaming, and pontification but will things change?
Crisis nurseries, subsidized day care, mental health care, child protection standards for counties to follow, along with reporting and accountability, would actually make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. Thank you Governor Dayton for pointing out the “colossal failure” of the child protection system in MN. It really could use our support.
Looking at today’s paper, it appears our community is more inclined to argue about how many times or how hard you can hit your child because “you have the right to”. Kansas recently proposed a law allowing caregivers (all caregivers including coaches, teachers, and just about anyone in charge of a child) to hit a child up to ten times and leave bruises and bloody noses.
What’s the difference between discipline and abuse? Trauma. And it lasts forever.
From today’s Houston newspaper, “As of publication, Peterson is not under arrest and is expected to play for the Vikings this weekend when they host the Patriots. (UPDATE: Shortly after publication of this story the Vikings deactivated Peterson for Sunday’s game against the Patriots.)”
*note about Tyrese name not appearing anywhere in the approximately 8000 words printed in the Star Tribune today indicates the boys lack of importance to the story. Every lawyer’s name got ink, as did multiple football celebrities and experts from a number of disciplines.