Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Peterson said he disciplined his son similar to how he had been punished as a child and attributes what he refers to as his "success" to how he was punished. 

Using this twisted logic one could justify dragging a woman out of a cave and clubbing her because our prehistoric ancestors  did. 

Corporal punishment is legal in every U.S. state. Should Peterson's case go to trial, legal experts say, the final determination of what is reasonable discipline will be based on the standards found in the local community — and Texas law offers no definition of what that is. It says the use of non-deadly force against someone younger than 18 is justified if a parent or guardian "reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare."

The felony child injury charge stems from when Peterson disciplined his 4-year-old son in May with a tree branch or "switch," resulting in injury.

Peterson, 29, said the injuries his son suffered were unintentional and that he was using the same disciplinary methods that his father used on him when Peterson was growing up.

But a grand jury concluded Peterson "recklessly or by criminal negligence" caused injuries, breaking the law and exceeding community standards for corporal punishment. He faces up to two years in state jail and a fine if convicted, but also could get probation and/or agree to undergo counseling on child discipline.

The Texas Attorney General's Office notes that belts and brushes "are accepted by many as legitimate disciplinary tools, but "electrical or phone cords, boards, yardsticks, ropes, shoes, and wires are likely to be considered instruments of abuse."

F. Scott McCown, director of the Children's Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law that represents children in abuse and neglect cases, said people can have abstract debates about what is reasonable but they tend to come to a consensus when looking at a specific case.

Some of the factors that tend to be used to decide whether corporal punishment was unreasonable include whether a child needed medical attention and if the disciplining left visible marks and bruises, McCown said. According to court records, Peterson's son suffered cuts, marks and bruising to his thighs, back and on one of his testicles.

If Peterson's case goes to trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys will be picking jurors in a county with conservative beliefs and one that has also banned corporal punishment in its largest school district. E. Tay Bond, an attorney who has worked in Montgomery County for 16 years, said the potential jury pool in the Peterson case will likely not be economically or racially diverse.

Because jurors in are summoned via email, the jury pool will be made up of individuals with a higher socio-economic status, who tend to be more conservative, Bond said.

"People will still discipline their children ... As long as it's appropriate and not excessive, it's not a crime," Wilke said.

It's unclear how many cases involving abuse claims stemming from corporal punishment are dealt with either by Texas courts or CPS. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, CPS's parent agency, doesn't keep statistics detailing whether an abuse case involved corporal punishment. McCown said that in most of the cases his clinic has handled, usually parents do not end up going to jail.

The range of punishment for injury to a child charge depends on the defendant's intent. Peterson is accused of injuring his son through his reckless actions, while Dill was accused of intentionally or knowingly causing injury to his child. He faced up to 10 years in prison.