Something tragic happened this week in Sioux Fall, South Dakota, a two-year old boy died of suspected child abuse at the hand of a 27 year old man who was not the child’s father and has a lengthy history of domestic abuse. This a horrific event and should help spurn some much needed discussion about abusing women, child abuse, and the punishments that offenders do not receive until it is too late. However, the only reason most people outside of Sioux Falls have even heard of this incident is that this may be Adrian Peterson’s son, star running back of the Minnesota Vikings and a lot of people’s number one pick in fantasy football. No doubt many of you heard about this from the litany of facebook posts pouring out their support for Adrian Peterson.
This is fantastic to see between rival teams, but why exactly are we pouring out our sympathies to Adrian Peterson and not the mother or others in the child’s family? From what I understand, and I am in no way an insider, is that Peterson had little to no contact with this child whatsoever. According to a report on Deadspin, “The mother is a Sioux Falls woman who moved from the Twin Cities soon after the child was born, and believes the boy might be Peterson’s. The reporter also says Peterson has no contact with the woman or the child.”
While, this is certainly tragic and should be discussed pouring out sympathy on an absent father doesn’t seem like it should be the top priority. There are still a ton of facts unknown about this case and Peterson has asked the media to not ask questions about the situation, which is his right, but shouldn’t this incident lead to some larger conversations?
We have a giant sex offender list in this country that you can make your way onto by simply urinating in public and being seen by another, yet I know of no mass published list or apps for women to see if the man they are dating has beaten other women or children in the past. The reality is child abuse cases are far too common. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, “Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving more than 6 million children. The United States has among the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average between four and seven children every day to child abuse and neglect.”
In addition to this in a report to Congress the same department found that roughly 5% of mistreated children experience a recurrence within just 6 months. You can read their whole report to Congress here. The sad part is this is a common occurrence in the United States. Hopefully, this case can start to generate some conversation and change to help protect children from potential abusers.
Another issue that begs discussion is athletes fathering children and not taking responsibility. This is an old article from Sports Illustrated, but a good read from Grant Wahl and L. Jon Wertheim, called Paternity Ward. If you google the issue you will see a cornucopia of high profile athletes with Paternity issues.
I do not want to take away from the tragedy of this poor child. I hope and trust that proper justice will finally be brought upon Joseph Patterson, but I believe our conversation needs to be turned from Adrian Peterson and football and back towards this case and why so many child abuse episodes happen every day and how we can start to help curb this horrifying epidemic.