Parenting advocate hopes accusations against Adrian Peterson get people talking about child abuse

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It was another Monday, September 15th with more talk about off-the-field issues involving the NFL. Last week, news of the "Ray Rice" video was breaking. The video, captured in a casino's elevator, showed Rice punching his now-wife. Now, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is in the spotlight -- facing a child abuse charge, accused of disciplining his child with a "switch." Peterson was kept out of this past Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, after turning himself in to authorities on Saturday -- two days after the alleged incident. Peterson posted bail and was released. He will practice this week, and he'll play next Sunday when the Vikings take on the Saints.

The incident involving Adrian Peterson has again ignited a national conversation -- and like the Ray Rice incident did with domestic violence, the Peterson incident is putting the issue of child abuse in the spotlight.

"People don't want to talk about child abuse. But you know what, we need to. This is now an opportunity to have the conversation about what is appropriate discipline?" Joyce Felker with The Parenting Network said.

The discussion of how to properly discipline a child has erupted because of what Peterson is accused of doing. He allegedly used a stick, or a "switch" to give his four-year-old son what he called "a whooping."

"Spanking is a very controversial topic," Felker said.

In a lengthy statement issued Monday, September 15th, Peterson addressed how he chose to discipline his son. That statement reads as follows:

"My attorney has asked me not to discuss the facts of my pending case. I hope you can respect that request and help me honor it. I very much want the public to hear from me, but I understand that it is not appropriate to talk about the facts in detail at this time. Nevertheless, I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child.

I never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates. I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.

I voluntarily appeared before the grand jury several weeks ago to answer to any and all questions they had. Before my grand jury appearance, I was interviewed by two different police agencies without an attorney. In each of these interviews I have said the same thing, and that is that I never ever intended to harm my son. I will say the same thing once I have my day in court.

I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate.

I have learned a lot and have had to re-evaluate how I discipline my son going forward. But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man. I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.

I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that's what I tried to do that day."

I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue, and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person."

"People will often say 'well I was spanked. I'm fine. Look at me. What's the problem?' Yeah, but the question is really, yeah, but was it effective?" Felker said.

Felker helps to teach parents how to discipline a child.

"There's a significant difference between discipline and abuse," Felker said.

Instead of spanking or hitting a child, Felker believes there are many alternatives.

"We have strategies that are more effective -- logical consequences, redirecting. There's a multitude of strategies that are more effective," Felker said.

Felker says she hopes a positive conversation comes out of the accusations against Adrian Peterson.

"If we start looking at what do parents need to be successful, to raise successful children -- then we need to look at how we can support them and how we can strengthen parenting," Felker said.

Late Monday, there were reports of a second incident involving Peterson and another of his children. No charges have been filed in that case. Peterson's attorney has released a statement, calling these allegations "unsubstantiated."

CLICK HERE to access resources for parents, via The Parenting Network.