Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest in his child abuse case, avoiding jail time after being indicted in September for using a wooden switch to punish his 4-year-old son.
The Associated Press reports that a judge in Conroe, Texas, agreed to the plea deal.
As we reported in September, Peterson faced a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault related to an injury to one of his sons, who was visiting Peterson in Texas in May. The boy’s mother noticed his injuries when he returned home to Minnesota. She took him to a doctor, who contacted authorities in Texas to report Peterson.
Peterson has maintained that he did not intend to harm his son, but the Vikings banned him from team activities. It’s unclear how today’s plea deal affects his status.
The case reignited the debate over corporal punishment in the U.S., where a majority of parents still use it to discipline their children.
Elizabeth Gershoff, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, told NPR in September that around three-quarters of American parents spank their children at least once a year or so. And, she said, corporal punishment is legal in 19 states.
Gershoff told NPR’s Robert Siegel that while the use of corporal punishment varies by race – African-Americans spank more than other groups, whites and Latinos spank about the same, and Asian-Americans spank the least – there are no differences in the effects of spanking on children.
“[W]e found that even though African-American parents do spank more often, it’s not more effective at increasing children’s positive behavior and in fact has the opposite effect and increases children’s aggressive behavior over time,” she said.
NPR’s Gene Demby, of our Code Switch team, wrote about whether corporal punishment was , in fact, abuse. You can read his piece here.