10 Questions I Want Those Defending Adrian Peterson’s Brutal Beating of His 4-Year-Old Son to Answer

A Vikings fan poses wearing an Adrian Peterson jersey while holding a stick before Sunday's game against the Patriots. Photo: Getty Images

A Vikings fan poses wearing an Adrian Peterson jersey while holding a stick before Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Photo: Getty Images

Since the news broke about Adrian Peterson’s indictment on charges that he brutally beat his 4-year-old son with a wooden stick, I’ve been both shocked and appalled at how many people have actually come out in defense of his horrific actions.

While I understand that corporal punishment is often a controversial topic, I honestly didn’t think I’d see the support I’ve seen for a man who whipped a defenseless 4-year-old child so badly that the boy actually bled on multiple areas of his body, and had open wounds a week later.

And while there’s definitely been a lot of heated debate from both sides on this issue, I’ve honestly yet to see anyone defending Peterson offer up any logical or rational defense for his actions.

So I thought I’d present his supporters with 10 questions I want them to answer to help me (and those who agree with me that this was clearly child abuse) understand how they justify this savage beating of a 4-year-old child.

1) What behavior might a 4-year-old exhibit that you feel would warrant the child being beaten to the point that they bled, and had wounds on multiple areas of their body?

2) If we were talking about Adrian Peterson’s daughter, and not his son, would you still feel the same way?

3) You do understand that there’s a difference between spanking a child and assaulting one with a weapon, right?

4) If a parent beating a 4-year-old child so badly that the child bleeds doesn’t constitute child abuse, what does?

5) If you believe that “because this is how I was raised” is deemed a valid excuse to beat a child, then do you accept racism and bigotry by those who would also claim that’s “how they were raised”?

6) Decades ago, very young girls were often legally married off to much older men. You do realize that simply because we’ve done something in the past, doesn’t mean that we  should still keep doing it in the future, correct? Just because you were whipped with wooden sticks as a child doesn’t mean that we should continue using weapons to beat our children.

7) If an adult would go to jail for doing something to an adult – like beating one with a wooden stick until they bled and had multiple wounds all over their body – why should it be legal for an adult to do that to a defenseless 4-year-old child?

8) Do you feel it’s appropriate to beat a child with a weapon so severely that the marks are still easily seen a week later?

9) When you were beaten as a child, did you actually learn to respect the parent beating you with a wooden stick, or did you fear the beating?

10) If four years old isn’t too young to brutally beat a child with a wooden stick, exactly what age is too young to beat a child with some kind of a weapon?

Those are the questions I want answered. Because while I’ve seen a lot of people who seem to have no problem with what he did to his 4-year-old son, I’ve yet to see any explanation that makes sense from his supporters pertaining to any of these questions.

Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Jack Brown

    Good set of questions.

  • MissChriss

    Thank you!! Also, a person would be in trouble if they did this to an animal, or an adult, so why should children be at the bottom of the barrel?

  • Jim Bean

    Good questions (as Jack Brown notes). However, it would have been prudent to draw a distinction between those ‘defending Peterson’ by being critical of the way the matter is being handled and those defending him because they condone his behavior. I suspect the number in the latter group is exceedingly small and it is unhelp to blend them together.

    • classof77

      Your suspicion is wrong. Take a look at any ESPN comment board on this and you’ll see literally hundreds of comments that basically say, “he did nothing wrong. My daddy whupped me and it made me the man I am today.”

      • Jim Bean

        Perhaps you are correct. But blending them together is still unhelpful.

        You know what’s going to happen here don’t you? We’re going to get flooded with data that, rightly or wrongly, suggests a disproportionately high degree of domestic violence in the black community that (rightly or wrongly) correlates with the disproportionately high level of black violence on the street in general.

        If you are an advocate for the direction this is taking then at least have the dignity to accept it graciously later when people begin pointing to this phenomenon.

      • Cemetery Girl

        Domestic violence is not a “black” problem. People abusing their partner and/or children is not limited by race or gender or other demographics. Pretending that it is a problem in certain groups helps conceal the abusers. Victims won’t be recognized if we act like they are unlikely to be hurt because of the type of family they come from.

      • Kevin Leeman

        What’s that, a violent idiot??

  • Matt

    When are we going to move on from this? Yes, I think most of us understand how what Adrian did was wrong. He admitted it and is now going through counseling to learn from his mistake. As a society are we going to continue to beat him down or is it possible that we can allow him a second chance and support him through counseling? Of all media outlets, I would look to the huffington post to lead the way but have yet to see that. People make terrible mistakes, but we can and should learn from this.

    • indybeckih

      Mistakes are made because one doesn’t KNOW any better. He may have anger issues that he’s learning to address, but his beating of the child was not a mistake. It was loss of control of himself.
      I don’t think there’s a reason to move on from child abuse on any level. It needs daylight, and, unfortunately, people who choose careers that put them in the public eye might find themselves held up as role models for people who are in similar situations. If Adrian comes through this as an outspoken advocate for the protection of children, or for counseling for those who cannot control their emotions and/or bodies, it will not be a lost cause.
      But no – we don’t have to, nor should we, move on.

      • julieann72

        There is no excuse for any of this regardless if it happened to them as a child, too!! It is no different than me being molested as a child then using it as an excuse to do it to a child myself. I could never fathom putting a child through the sexual and physical abuse I went through as a child.

      • Kevan Dalzell

        Agreed, juliann72, agreed! 100%!

      • Jenny R.


    • chaserblue

      Except this isn’t the first time a child he’s disciplined has been hurt. So it wasn’t just a “mistake”, it’s a pattern of abuse. I’m sure the next scandal will come along and move this right off the national short term memory, so take heart. You won’t have to listen to people go on and on about it much longer. But I think it’s a conversation that is way overdue. Knowing the size of these “men” (and I use the term loosely) and then seeing the size of their victims, do you not see a problem, here? They’re beating and abusing women and children because they’ve been allowed to. They’ve been indulged, spoiled and given everything they want. When someone in their world acts contrary to what they want, they attack them. It’s a real problem and needs to be addressed.

      • Kevan Dalzell

        Women are equally as abusive towards children. This is not just a “men” issue. My mother, was horribly abusive to me, and, well, she no longer is in my life.

      • Gabe Davis

        Good. Keep the monsters out no matter who they are, Your life will be more peaceful without the drama. I had 37 wonderful years with out that monster in my life before he died. As far as I am concerned, he died the first time he nearly beat me to death. He bragged about those beatings. I even legally changed my name so I would not be associated with that monster.

      • Kevan Dalzell

        Good for you, Gabe! Glad you came out stronger! 🙂

      • chaserblue

        It was actually not targeting men as a whole, just the rash of NFL players that feel it’s perfectly fine to abuse those smaller in their lives. It’s an entitlement abuse issue, not specifically male. Yes, women are abusive, too. There’s no question about that. When I said they were spoiled and given everything they want, that was specifically targeting the cluster of football players making headlines lately. I am sorry about your mother. My step-dad was a real charmer, too. When using the razor strop no longer worked to make us cry, he started using his fists.

      • Kevan Dalzell

        Hugs; for you, chaserblue and Gabe! 🙂

  • Gabe Davis

    I am willing to bet this was not the first time he has done this to the kid. The kid must be horrified from what his dad did to him. Mine beat the hell out of me with leather belts, extension cords, fists etc for 17 damn years. Those wounds lasted for weeks. I hated that bastard back then as much as I hate his dead ass now. I left at 17 and never allowed that bastard back into my life. He died 4 years ago and I refused to go to his funeral. I did go see him while in a coma and watched him die in front of me. Monsters don’t change. I will never understand how any parent can hit and torture their kids. If I see you do that, I promise I will kill you without any reservation.

    • Brendan Zuniga

      You’re a bitch.

      • Kevan Dalzell

        And you, Brendan, are a cunt.

      • Gabe Davis

        Brendan, evidently some beatings damaged your brain beyond all repair. If your brains were dynamite and they exploded, the force of that explosion would not be enough for you to blow your nose.

      • Jenny R.

        This is one of the most creative snap-backs I’ve ever read. o_O

      • Raul Miller Miller

        brendan why r u attacking Gabe

    • Kevan Dalzell

      I quit talking to my mother eleven years ago, and life is now, so much more peaceful. She constantly beat me as a child, just to get her personal rage out. She constantly belittled me and told me how ungrateful I was. She also didn’t protect me from her step-father, whom she knew from personal experience, was a pedophile. As a child in school, I was picked on (she’s Caucasian) daily for having brown skin. She did nothing to help stop this, as it would’ve reflected (in her mind) on her. When she beat me as a child, whether with a dog leash (she hit me with the metal bit, too) or a rubber skipping rope, I’d tell her she was abusing me, and that I’d report her. She would just stand there laughing, like I’d told a really funny joke. Well, the joke is on her, as she no longer has a son that will have anything to do with her!

    • Debra Baker

      Im so sorry you were treated that way, that makes me so sad

    • adcbeast

      @gabedavis:disqus .. The kid was not abused … We live in a pansified world now where any physical disciplining of children constitutes abuse.

      You have no clue about this situation but you just assumed the kid was abused .. Do you work for CPS?

      When I was in 2nd grade me and my friends used to whip each other with Weeping Willow tree branches. Long, green and very flexible like a whip. We would whip those branches on each others legs. It left a good mark for a couple days but no one got mad. No one felt abused. And no one ran off to whine to mommy.

      • Annonee Mous

        Did you see the photos? Abuse is taught. They become animal abusers, then spousal abusers, then child abusers. Or maybe you’re one of them. Get help.

      • adcbeast

        Annonee DOOOSH … Me and my friends did MORE damage to each other just playing …

        You people are OVERSENSITIVE taking the spotlight off REAL abusers

      • Stephen Barlow

        Did you grow your first hard getting whipped?

      • adcbeast

        @disqus_IGTcldrKx5:disqus .. Your Mom would say hi but she has something in her mouth

      • Stephen Barlow

        yeah dirt she’s a hundred years old and she’s been dead for almost four decades

      • adcbeast

        @disqus_IGTcldrKx5:disqus .. How do you think you got here?

        NEXT !!!

      • Seven year old second graders is hardly equivalent in strength and power to a 6’3″ 230 lb professional athlete who was using his might to beat a child half the age you were in second grade. you are making excuses for a vicious assault. and i guarantee if someone had done that mess to your four year old, say at daycare. and he was bleeding, had cuts and opnen wounds on his flesh when you picked him up, you’d be right at the police station. so why is it criminal if a babysitter does it, but not when a pro athlete does? I call b.s. on your excuse making.

      • adcbeast

        @DeborrahC:disqus … We drew BLOOD Deborrah … left whip marks for days .. did you see the pictures of Peterson’s kid? Me and my friends did a HLL of a lot more damage than that … and no one batted an eye .. because the world is OVERSENSITIVE and blows things out of proportion now ..

        Everyone here thinks the absolute worst like Peterson hit his kid with all his might with a branch thicker than a baseball bat.

        If you don’t like any spanking fine that’s your business. But other if other people want to spank then that is their choice.

      • Mo

        There are many ways to teach and guide a child, physical disciplining is NOT one of them, period.

      • adcbeast

        You are a complete IDIOT … and a pansy

      • Robert

        People like you horrify me. You’re comparing what you and your knuckle-headed friends did to each other to what a full grown man did to his son? You are calling a 4-year old a “pussy” because he “whined to mommy”? Are you for real? You consider what this monster did perfectly acceptable? In my eyes, that makes you as bad as him. Hopefully you don’t have kids…ever.

      • Jenny R.

        thoroughly seconded!

      • Connie Mack

        I work for CPS and this constitutes abuse abcbeast. For you to defend him and think otherwise makes me worry for your childrens safety.

  • Daniel Crowl

    The Ray Rice video of his blow to his then fiance was literally one shot and it was over. Can you imagine if there was video of this child being beaten? How long would that have taken, including the time it took to stuff leaves in his mouth? What kind of outrage would happening if people could see the time and ugliness of this kind of abuse actually playing out on video?

    • adcbeast

      @daniel crow .. This kid was NOT beaten .. You idiots that read a story think you know something about it .. You hurt kids who are actually abused when you attempt to call all discipline a beating ..

      • Annonee Mous

        The law thinks otherwise. The kid BLED. There’s photographic evidence. What’s wrong with you that you find that acceptable?

      • adcbeast

        Annonee DOOOSH … 1. The law is WRONG a lot in these cases and overreacts like you idiots

        2. The kid did not bleed .. those were ship marks

        You’re just a pansy

  • midwestamp

    There’s a big difference between people who are defending Peterson’s right to beat his child with a stick, and people defending him based on the ineptitude of the league and team to handle the situation properly without being influenced by advertising dollars. I have not heard one person express their opinion as being, “I totally condone his actions because that’s how he was raised”. But rather more along the lines of, don’t punish someone for their ignorance to the fullest extent of the law when you have the opportunity to educate and help them become the person we need them to be. Judging from Peterson’s remorse and cooperation throughout this process, there is a lot of opportunity to shed light on this issue and help society as a whole progress and develop better methods of discipline. No one is exempt from society, it is all of our responsibility to open the eyes of those who still need it. The questions you ask reveal to me that you have a very limited understanding of the real issue at hand.

    • Robin

      I interpret the questions to not be directed at Petersen but at those that are defending him. Those that are defending his actions are doing him no favors. Instead of making excuses for him, hold him accountable. If he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong, it’s because people around him have made excuses for him and allowed him to be abusive (you can bet this ain’t his first rodeo with aggression). Family, girlfriends, coaches most likely have let him get away with controlling and aggressive behavior… Star football player… Money in school coffers… Financially supporting family…. He has probably had people cover and blow stuff off all his life. Like the QB at FSU being suspended for half a game…. No way FSU will suspend for a whole game and chance losing it!

      • midwestamp

        I interpreted it the same way, which is why my statement begins with the clarification between defending his right to do what he did and defending him based on the way the situation has been handled. Be the change you want to see in the world. Teaching people the right way to do things is a lot more logical, and efficient, rather than scolding them when they do something wrong and expecting them to figure it out from there.

  • Brendan Zuniga

    Jesus christ. Allen, I used to like your writing. Your pieces on relavent politics are honestly enjoyable, but this shit I getting rediculous. Your opinions are your own and should stay that way. I just wanted you to know before I stop following your articles. I think after reading this bleeding heart bullshit if I ever heard you tell somone else they were being divisive I would vomit and have an aneurysm. That’s all. #6 *our

    • Allen Clifton

      You spelled all your answers to these questions wrong.

      • adcbeast

        @allen_clifton:disqus .. wow .. the spelling police showed up


  • Asher B. Garber

    I was beaten by my stepmother at the age of 6. There were 4 kids in the house that day, and I was the oldest, so the brand new volleyball net that got torn in the backyard due to us playing under and around it demanded some kind of parental response. Even if the parent was a psychonutjob who stole my dad from my mother with some crazy sexual fashion, and I was the oldest, so the order had been set. She grabbed me, pantsed me, and then whipped me real hard with her belt in front of my sister and two step-siblings. It felt like it lasted forever. I was scared and mortified. My stepmom demanded I say “I love you, Mommy” at least 3 times before she ended her fury. My father was not home at the time.

    There were words spoken between my parents. My father was not to leave me or my sister alone with this crazy woman ever again. Weeks later, my mom took the photographs. Red and bruised, I hadn’t sat straight since. My mom was frustrated and was willing to stop all of my father’s custody rights. It never got that far. Things straightened out. A few years later, my father divorced this lady, and I never had to see her again.

    I don’t think this can answer your questions, Alan. Up until my stepfather murdered my mother, this was the worst thing that had happened to me. What good would jail have done for this woman? What good would it had been if she had lost her job over how she treated me? That’s an orange to my bright apple red ass.

    The photos of Adrian Peterson’s son are influencing your outrage, but those are of a personal nature. You and the rest of the world had no reason to see those the scars on the boy’s behind. You can be appalled, but you also have to realize that this is a family situation between Adrian Peterson, his son, and the mother. As far as I know, Peterson has other children from other women, so the guy doesn’t really head a nuclear family lifestyle. He needs counseling. He needs to make amends to the boy. But he does not have to respond to you.

    No matter how horrific the situation may seem like, this is a normal, everyday occcurrence on God’s own precious green Earth;

    • Cemetery Girl

      I think that’s what bothers me, the “that’s life” attitude about abuse. Fortunately, you only had to endure that once, but not every child has that intervention. Abuse is an everyday occurence, but it doesn’t mean that it should be considered something inevitable. If the bad luck of the draw puts a child in a family with an abusive person, it doesn’t mean that everyone should turn a blind eye. We can’t assume that a child will suffer through it and move on. It only takes one moment of unbridled rage that can change or end the course of the child’s life.

      • Jenny R.

        THIS. A child’s internal organs can be lacerated by blunt force trauma. It happens all the time to children all over the country being ‘disciplined’ like this. They can suffer internal bleeding, DVT, and shock.

        People think this is ok because they have this misguided assumption that, because it happened to them, or was routine in their childhood era, and they never heard about people ‘being oversensitive’ about it… that’s it’s ok.
        They don’t think children were harmed by it.
        That’s because the world wasn’t as nationally and globally interconnected then. We hear news from everywhere now, whereas in the childhood of those supporting this type of brutality, it was typical to only get the biggest of national news on television, and whatever was local and made it to the station or newspaper. People weren’t as open and transparent then as they are now.
        That doesn’t mean this type of thing wasn’t happening. It was just hidden.

      • Cemetery Girl

        And we have to remember that domestic violence used to be an open secret. It wasn’t illegal to beat your spouse or your children. If you lived in a violent household and happened to have neighbors close enough to hear, they stayed out of it. (Legally, they had no means to step in. It is possible a neighbor could say something, but no laws were being broken so there weren’t really options.) Even if the neighbors lived farther away, they saw the cuts, bruises, and bandages. Divorce was still shameful, custody was more likely to be awarded to fathers (which wouldn’t help if the father abused the children), and unless a woman’s family was willing to take her in she had little opportunities for providing for her children. The community would suspect, but there wasn’t anything that could be done so it was better to politely ignore it.

  • Eg Kbbs

    I’d add to the questions about the morality of striking someone that if I strike someone on the street, they are generally free to hit back, walk away, call the cops, or take any number of other measures.

    In the case of my kids, they are dependant on me. They aren’t free moral agents. They can’t walk away. In short, they have little freedom to get away or cause the abuse to stop.

  • Raul Miller Miller

    Well said, what constitutes abuse? Red welts,bleeding on a tiny 4 year old. If a dog had been beaten with a switch there would be a loud outcry. Do we value our children less than a pet?

    • Jenny R.

      Most definitely. In virtually every child-mauled-by-dog case people explode with support for the dogs. They blame the innocent children with gross speculation, ignore the real facts, etc..
      A dog that ripped half a toddler’s face off got tens of thousands of dollars in support from the Lexus Project… within a matter of weeks. A fundraiser for the grossly disfigured, partially blinded little boy who must now eat via feeding tube and breathe through a trach barely hit over 5,000 since the attack happened over half a year ago. Our society definitely values children less than pets. Messed up.

      • Brock

        OMG…poor little kid has to breath thru a track??? politicians always just talk about the economy….I wish they would debate real issues like this…

  • Francine Anoia Price

    yeah, well, there was one thing worse. I was sitting watching tv when my dad got up to go to bed. He poked me in the breast and told me they were getting too large. I ended up crying in my room. He apologized that same night. Years later I told my brother and he told me I was crazy. My family likes head games better than they did actual beatings. I’m constantly told my memories are wrong. I remember how I remember. What is worse–mental and emotional beating or physical beating? In my opinion all 3 suck.

  • julieann72

    Rather amazing since it was just last year or so that he lost a 2 year old son who was brutally beaten by his mother’s then boyfriend!! That 2 year old apparently would not have been better off with either adult men in his life. May he rest in peace and feel no pain in God’s arms.

    People with anger management issues should not be allowed to breed, let alone parent children.

    • adcbeast

      @6figurebabe:disqus .. WRONG … try again

  • adcbeast

    [email protected]#[email protected]# ….. “brutal beating” .. The media needs to stop hyping everything up to get idiots to look their way

    A brutal beating is black eyes. Swollen shut eyes. Broken bones. Welts so big it takes weeks for them to go away.

    It is a good thing that there was no such thing as CPS when I was a kid. They would have thought my parents kicked the crap out of me when in FACT it was me playing outside. I used to do some crazy S … even at 4 ..

    I thought I could jump from the top of our 5 step front stoop to the concrete walkway … NOPE .. landed chin first … 8 stitches and lots of blood later … I was good to go on to my next self inflicted injury ..

    Yes. I know Peterson swatted his kid with a switch. Me and my friends used to do that with Weeping Willow branches. It leaves a mark but doesn’t even come close to a brutal beating.

    CPS needs to get some people with a clue … protect the kids that are actually being abused … not parents doing their job that you disagree with their parenting methods.

  • Stephen Barlow

    As to an question 5. Should pedophile’s victims get a walk for diddling kids as an adult?
    If Not, then NO One’s childhood horror is EVER A VALID EXCUSE!!!!!!!

  • lilyannerose

    Over the past few years we’ve seen communities punish the rape victim and support the rapists. We’ve seen domestic violence being supported by talking heads on Fox News. We now have people trying to justify child abuse. America the Brutal!

  • Melissa Belcher

    As an abused child I spanked my child too much and too hard and until you see that you’re wrong and get help nothing will change. Thank god I got help

  • Bob A

    I think this is simplistic. Anyone who believes that his behavior is acceptable and should be allowed to continue is insane. He himself has acknowledge that it was wrong and he needs to learn other ways to discipline his child.

    That said what should be done about it and more to the point to dismiss ignorance and his personal experience as an explanation is also ignorant. Corporeal punishment is still allowed in schools in 19 states let alone at home. There are large communities and cultures in this country that advocate for strong corporeal punishment of children including infants. So to think that he may not have been share your expectations of what is acceptable is presumptuous.

    I believe that he believed that strict discipline was what made him a successful sports superstar and that he was passing on that legacy to his children. Unfortunately what he was actually passing on was a legacy of abuse which is what most commonly happens with those who are abused. That deserves compassion not piling on. This was a man who was abused as a child. One who was beaten and raised to believe that beatings were love and discipline by people who probably had been raised the same way.

    It will take time, support and education for him both to reconcile his own experiences as a child and learn better more effective ways to discipline his children to break the cycle of violence. He needs to be supported in this pursuit and this situation could be used to take advantage of the platform and visibility to have a public discourse about about abuse and raise general awareness to the issue.

    The man has expressed remorse, taken ownership and accepted responsibility for his actions and indicated that he will learn a better way. I think we should give him the opportunity to learn and demonstrate growth and withhold judgement based on future behavior. Pointing a finger and saying monster and dismissing his experience does nothing but try show how moral you think you are. It does nothing to address the real issue of inter-generational violence and does not give someone who was wrong any hope of rehabilitation.

    As to the dumbass with the stick in the jersey. They deserve any piling on they get freedom of speech also means freedom to be told you are an idiot.

    • Jenny R.

      LOVE THIS! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Thickmadame 4ever

    This man spanked his child there wasn’t s beating society needs to care care of their home before judging another the main people against this man probably have kids who disrespect them on the daily , using drugs always throwing stones get yo life

    • Kevin Leeman

      You’re a total moron. I hope you don’t breed you POS

      • Thickmadame 4ever

        Wow so I notice you have nothing ut slanderous things to say against those who don’t agree with you so let me say this my kids are straight A students on the deans list several colleges have offered scholarships and they aren’t finished with high school. You calling me names lets me know im doing a awesome parenting job so good luck to you and yours

  • Kevin Leeman

    The people who defend Petersen are too ignorant to know any better. They say my parents did it to me and I turned out ok, lol. So I guess if it’s always been done that way it must be ok. They’re too stupid and stubborn to realize that physically abusing a 4 year old under any condition is just plain wrong. I feel sorry for their kids who will mostly grow up as violent and ignorant as their parents.