Adrian Peterson Child Abuse Charges – Illegal in Alabama?

Adrian Peterson Child Abuse Charges – Illegal in Alabama?

Adrian Peterson Child Abuse – or Discipline?

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s recent arrest and indictment brought the issues of child abuse and corporal punishment squarely into the public arena.  The terms draw vastly different reactions.Adrian Peterson Child Abuse

Adrian Peterson is accused of repeatedly striking his 4-year-old son with a switch – or a short, thin tree branch – causing cuts, bruises, and blisters on the child’s body.

In Alabama, parents and stepparents are allowed to use reasonable physical force to discipline children in their family. The corporal punishment must be reasonably warranted by the misconduct of the child.  The parent must act conscientiously and the corporal punishment must come from a place of duty.

This means that you cannot spank a child for asking for candy in line at Wal-Mart, and you cannot hit them with a switch every time they misbehave.  Whatever punishment is given must be restrained and given sparingly, and must be appropriate under the circumstances.  The possible different facts in each situation are infinite; ultimately, if a parent or guardian is charged with child abuse, a jury will decide whether that person’s behavior was appropriate.

If Adrian Peterson’s case was tried in Alabama, a jury would decide whether Mr. Peterson was reasonable in his belief that the discipline and physical force he used was appropriate under the circumstances. Malaysia  If the jury considered the injuries inflicted on his son to be excessive or substantially traumatic, it would not matter whether Adrian Peterson believed his actions were reasonable.  He would be very likely be found liable and, more importantly, guilty of child abuse.

What is the difference between corporal punishment and child abuse in Alabama?

Alabama Code Section 13A-3-24 states the following:

“Use of force by persons with parental, custodial or special responsibilities.

The use of force upon another person is justified under any of the following circumstances:

(1) A parent, guardian or other person responsible for the care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person, and a teacher or other person responsible for the care and supervision of a minor for a special purpose, may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor or incompetent person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor or incompetent person.”

The above code section on parents and discipline is a defense to physical punishment of a child.  It is not a ticket to do whatever one wants to a child.  In fact, it is a defense that – especially in today’s world – may quickly get thrown by the wayside and have your children taken from your custody.

In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources (DHR) is very good at what they do and will immediately get involved in a family situation if there is an allegation of abuse.  Additionally, Alabama is a mandatory reporting state with a wide range of people from doctors, nurses, teachers, counselors, daycare workers and others who are required by law to report the possibility of child abuse.

The Alabama Criminal Code does not differentiate between child abuse, domestic violence, assault and corporal punishment.  It states that willfully harming someone, including a child, is assault; harming a child that is their child is domestic violence; repeatedly harming a child is aggravated child abuse.

The Alabama Code Section on child abuse may be found at the following link:  Alabama Criminal Code.

Unless Adrian Peterson negotiates a plea bargain through his criminal defense attorney, a jury will ultimately decide if Adrian Peterson’s actions toward his son were child abuse.  The Adrian Peterson case and a study of Alabama case law each show how discipline of children is a difficult topic.



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  • Lee Somerset

    My childrens mother was discovered duct taping the three boys hands together, locking them in a closet and threatening the life of their pet dog if they spoke about her doing this to them when she wanted to go out by herself and they were placed in DHR custody. I was told this was not an arrestable offense in Alabama.

  • Laine Norris

    If this is the law then why and how does dekalb county dhr not follow them? How is it that they openly break all the laws rules knowingly violate civil rights,, lie medically kidnapped children from loving fit parents, courts giving them away never even speaking with parents, sending the cold to unfit nonfamilymember that completely alienated child from family,make child drop out of highschool,charge and collect child saport from mother,basterized child from legal father, and eventhough mother has hours of recorded audio of all the lies and corruption that prove dhr judge, lawyers are purpously violating the rights of a innocent fit loving parents putting a child in a abusive foster home by a deal forvpersonal favors and gain. Have severely cause damage to the child s mental and physical health by purposefully neglectful abusive foster parents all while known by dhr and the judge who refuse to help the mother save her daughters life and the family continues to be legally abused. The daughter was removed from her home and family with no evidence and the youngest child was left with the parents in the home. Court hearings held without notice to parents custody given to non family foster parents. This has all been done openly with the case even getting media attention on medically kidnapped but no action to help the family and save the daughter s life after 18 months of hell no one will help. It’s so sick it’s my little girl. Please somebody help me senciraly Paula Norris (256) 293- 2231

  • Jan Honeycutt

    The problem is DHR breaks up good families and puts loved children in foster care. My daughter has ADHD, ODD, and Bipolar tendencies, she also has to stay on steroids due to bad asthma, she gets spankings nothing that would ever harm her. Grounding a child like her when they’re in a manic state is just dumb her therapist agrees; as tough as it is the best thing to do is to control the situation by staying calm and with short punishments like time outs; but of course you have to get them to stay in one spot and not follow you around being disrespectful and yelling that is unacceptable. My daughter goes from 0-60 in 5 minutes and I refuse to put her on more medication, children are not meant to be zombies. Despite being on Focalin and Zoloft she will have days where she is just completely out of control. Occasionally she’ll have a bad episode where she stays up for 2 or 3 days and becomes extremely hyper and agressive DHR’S answer would be to dope her up, instead of popping her butt and controlling the situation. I pop her on the behind and make her sit in the corner, the whole time she’s there she says things until she finally calms down, and of course she has to go to bed and needs to stay there. Children in manic states do not care if you tell them they’re grounded they aren’t thinking about the long term, the best thing is to get the child under control and get them calm, a pop on the butt does the trick, it might not stop the disrespectful comments but it controls the situation and eventually they wiil calm down. Occasionally I have to pop her on the bottom several times to keep her in the corner or in bed at night. She tried to get away once when I popped her by squatting I accidentally scratched her eye with my fingernail, all I could think about is oh my gosh if someone asks her about that scratch my kids are doomed to foster care. She told me she would tell her teacher the dog scratched her I said no if someone asks we don’t lie tell the truth and hopefully nothing will come of it. It is very sad for a good parent to have a worry about a freak accident, you’re judged if your child misbehaves but you’re judged for disciplining them as well. Parents with kids like mine have a very hard time, not too long ago police arrested a five yr old with adhd at school for spitting on another child and kicking his teacher when he got in trouble. This little boy’s parents are probably doing the best they can, they can spank him but run the risk of being arrested if they leave a tiny mark; or they they can just do nothing and let him get arrested at school. 10 out of the 34 people killed by officers in our state this yr had a mental illness, we as parents want to help our children learn to respect authority in all circumstances. My mom wore me out with a belt and I deserved it. I was disrespectful and out of control I had some welts on my legs for sure, but it got my attention a welt is not an injury it just made me mad that I couldn’t look good in shorts the next day. DHR’s definition of an injury from abuse is a red spot on your kid’s butt right after you pop it. An injury leaves a scar, a big bruise, sore, or breaks a bone. DHR will make you scared to take yout kid to the ER when they get hurt playing like any normal little kid, and no I’ve never been investigated by DHR I’m just speaking of the cases I’ve seen. A grandmother got arrested for switching her grand daughter because it left a few red welts oh well I bet she’ll have mire respect now for the grandmother who took her in and raised her. I learned respect I finished college with a high GPA and I’ve never been in any trouble and I certainly never tried a drug, my mom did the right thing taking that belt to my legs I learned how to act right. DHR needs to focus on the real cases, like the lady who had two dead babies in her home that was rotting to the ground and leave good parents alone. So much time gets wasted on stupid investigations that were obviously not abuse; while the abused kids that live in filthy rotting houses full of bugs and rodents with drunk parents that beat them go unnoticed. Just last yr DHR took a child from her mother because the mom had epilepsy, they said she couldn’t take care of her because she has too many seizures, and she was murdered by her foster parents. Another little boy was 8 yrs old and died weighing less than 30 lbs his foster/adoptive mom starved him to death his teachers believed he could only eat half a sandwich because of a medical condition; the last thing he did was chew and scratch through a screen to eat snow and he died right after. DHR needs to correct themselves before they judge good parents and determine the way we discipline our children. This rich couple both were TV anchors snorted cocaine and the woman breastfed her daughter, when she got sick and lethargic they refused to let the dr do a blood test because they didn’t want to get busted. They only got caught because they were too dumb to know drugs show up in urine as well as blood, not to mention how painful it must have been for the child to be cathed, the article didn’t say how they got the urine but it’s obvious babies don’t pee in cups, a blood test would have been less painful. These parents snorted cocaine in their home at a party they threw involving drugs, then the mom breastfed her baby after she snorted cocaine, then they hendered her medical care and the mother still gets visitation to nurse her, and the child is with her grandmother where the parents can go easily show up any time they want to. DHR is broken. The scratch on my daughter’s eye was gone 5 minutes later but I still panicked with the way things are now because had it been noticeable I wouldn’t have lied about it or let my daughter lie about it. We had a conversation too right after she calmed down about her behavior and what could have happened because of an accidental scratch and she seemed to really understand the consequences of just what can happen if you become combative with your parents, and about how it is in foster homes. She didn’t like the sound of there being no gymnastics, no popcorn movie nights with your mommy, no beauty pageants, and no baseball.

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