Bill O'Reilly: I'm against child abuse, but I 'refuse to condemn' viewers who spank kids
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly on July 17, 2014. [YouTube]

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attempted to draw a line between hitting a child and spanking one on Tuesday while discussing the allegations that NFL running back Adrian Peterson abused his own children.

"I'm not going to condemn Americans tonight who have spanked their children gently or lightly," O'Reilly told colleague Martha MacCallum. "I'm not going to do that here on The Factor, I don't think that's right. Because each child is different."

Peterson was suspended from the Minnesota Vikings for a second time early Wednesday morning, following allegations that he hit one of his 4-year-old sons hard enough to require him to wear bandages on his head.

O'Reilly argued that "Peterson and people like him" say they strike their children not to inflict pain, but as a way to get their attention and correct their behavior.

"It's child abuse all over the place," he said. "It's a horrible plague. Same thing with domestic violence. The difference is, if you inflict pain on a child, that should be a crime."

MacCallum pointed out that Peterson allegedly hit another 4-year-old son hard enough with a wooden "switch" to cause injuries to his back, hands and scrotum.

She added that studies show that, despite being accepted in regions of the U.S., corporal punishment does not work.

"What you end up producing is a child who treats their child the same way," MacCallum said. "[With] aggressive behavior and abusive behavior."

However, O'Reilly argued in favor of giving kids "a whack that startles them" if they refused to stop engaging in certain behaviors.

"How about a child that runs in the street?" he asked MacCallum. "You say, 'Look, you can't run in the street because you'll be dead if the car hits you,' and the kid still runs in the street. You've got to get the child’s attention."

"By hitting them?" she shot back.

"No, I didn't say that," O’Reilly replied.

Watch the discussion, as posted online, below.