Discipline or Abuse???

On Tuesday, November 4 NFL running back Adrian Peterson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. Peterson has expressed remorse for harming his son while maintaining that he was simply providing discipline.

Stories like this serve as a reminded that a large percentage of child physical abuse cases are misguided efforts at discipline.

Trying to determine the difference? Here is what the law states in Kentucky:

“Abused or neglected child” means a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when:
His or her parent, guardian, person in a position of authority or special trust, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child:
1. Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or emotional injury as defined in this section by other than accidental means;
2. Creates or allows to be created a risk of physical or emotional injury as defined in this section to the child by other than accidental means;
3. Engages in a pattern of conduct that renders the parent incapable of caring for the immediate and ongoing needs of the child including, but not limited to, parental incapacity due to alcohol and other drug abuse as defined in KRS 222.005;
4. Continuously or repeatedly fails or refuses to provide essential parental care and protection for the child, considering the age of the child;
5. Commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution upon the child;
6. Creates or allows to be created a risk that an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution will be committed upon the child;
7. Abandons or exploits the child;
8. Does not provide the child with adequate care, supervision, food, clothing, shelter, and education or medical care necessary for the child’s well-being.

Are you concerned a child you know may be suffering abuse? Here are 10 signs to look for:

1. Unexplained injuries
2. Changes in behavior
3. Returning to earlier behaviors such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, or fear of the dark
4. Fear of going home
5. Changes in eating
6. Changes in sleeping
7. Changes in school performance and attendance
8. Lack of personal care or hygiene
9. Risk-taking behaviors
10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors

REMEMBER: Kentucky law explicitly states that anyone who suspects or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is experiencing abuse or neglect is required to report it.

To reach the Kentucky Child Protection Hotline, call 1-877-597-2331.

If you are a parent struggling with issues of discipline or need additional resources, contact the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Parent Support Line at 1-800-Children.  The Parent Support Line is available Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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