When does spanking become child abuse?

When does spanking become child abuse?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - In light of the child abuse charges NFL player Adrian Peterson faces for spanking his 4-year-old child, many people are asking: At what point does spanking turn into abuse?

After he was pulled from the field following his indictment on child abuse, Adrian Peterson will suit up for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Peterson was charged for hitting his four-year-old son with a tree branch this summer. But he said he was just disciplining his child and didn't mean to hurt him.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services investigated over 33,000 child abuse cases last year, compared to 35,000 in 2012. We asked people around the Jonesboro area: When does spanking cross the line?

"Spanking is alright but I don't think abusing them or leaving any marks on them," said parent, Jerry McFall.

Child abuse comes in many forms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, child abuse is defined as any act of series of acts by a parent or caregiver that results in  harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.

"It should not be an abusive way of spanking them but building them up and making them learn right from wrong," said parent, Valerie Rainwater.

"When I grew up, it was a different era and spanking was allowed back then and probably was a good thing, under control," said Jonesboro resident, Wayne Kender.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children. Executive Director, Donna Lamb-Bowyer said it's their job to look for signs of abuse.

"It can be verbal, someone tells you something that makes you suspect that there is abuse going on, obviously it can be physical, something you can see," she said.  CASA is looking to recruit more volunteers to serve the children of Region 8.

According to Mayo Clinic, signs to look out for are: withdrawal from friends or usual activities, changes in behavior, depression, frequent absences from school, reluctance to leave school activities and rebellious or defiant behavior.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with CASA you are urged to call 870-935-1099 or visit their website. If you suspect a child is being abused, you should call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964.

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