My last post in this blog was about 13-year old Ethiopian adoptee Hana Grace-Rose Williams, found dead in her backyard of her Sedro-Woolley home in May this year. In the last week-plus, after we got to know about Hana, K & I have been reading up on related issues, including harsh methods of “training” (not bringing up, but training!) children, other deaths and abuse of adoptee and foster children, and the notion of “child collectors.”
These make for very sad reading. It is hard to imagine that people would go to such extents to abuse children in their care, and do it in the name of bringing them up properly; or worse, do it in the name of religion. I was not aware of the extent of this issue and I have put together a summary of what we’ve read, in part so others get to know all this. Hopefully this post will add to a movement that ensures that this abuse of children stops soon.
A 2006 article from Salon.com discussed advice from a Christian parenting book To Train Up a Child (1994), written by Michael Pearl and his wife Debi, which advocates, among other things, “carefully hitting them with switches, PVC pipes and other ‘chastening instruments'”. To teach children not to grab forbidden objects, the book has this to offer: “Switch their hand once and simultaneously say, ‘No.’ Remember, you are not disciplining, you are training. One spat with a little switch is enough.” A number of reviews of this book on Amazon.com urge Amazon to stop selling this book, as they feel it recommends child abuse.
On his web site, Michael Pearl says: “A swift swat with a light, flexible instrument will sting without bruising or causing internal damage. Many people are using a section of ¼ inch plumber’s supply line as a spanking instrument. It will fit in your purse or hang around you (sic) neck. You can buy them for under $1.00 at Home Depot or any hardware store. They come cheaper by the dozen and can be widely distributed in every room and vehicle.”
Further, he recommends discretion: “Don’t be so indiscreet as to spank your children in public—including the church restroom. I get letters regularly telling of trouble with in-laws who threaten to report them to the authorities. Parents have called the Gestapo on their married children. Church friends who have noses longer than the pews on which they perch can cause a world of trouble. If you cannot get them trained before going out in public, stay home and read our four books again.”
Pearls’ methods got some scrutiny when Lynn Paddock, who used the techniques recommended by the Pearls, was found guilty in 2008 of first-degree murder by torture and felony child abuse in the Feb. 2006 death of her 4-year-old adoptive son Sean. Sean suffocated when wrapped tightly in blankets, reportedly to keep him from wandering about at night. The Pearls do not recommend restraining children with blankets, but Paddock’s stepdaughter and her other five adoptive children also testified to abuse at her hands, abuse which involved a quarter-inch plumbing supply line, of the type recommended by the Pearls.
A posting at http://saltosobrius.blogspot.com/2006/10/jim-benton-on-bible-based-baby-beating.html quotes Jim Benton, who has excerpts from James Dobson’s 1992 book The New Dare to Discipline. Some excerpts from this post:
Dobson’s wife whipped their 15 month old daughter for going onto the patio in the rain. Dobson says to show “parental warmth after such discipline” and to have a “loving conclusion to the disciplinary encounter.” … Dobson recommends painful squeezing of the trapezius muscle on the neck to obtain “instant obedience.” (p. 36) … Dobson recommends starting whipping at age 15-18 months, and “there is no magical time at the end of childhood when spanking becomes ineffective.” (p. 65). “My primary purpose … has been to record for posterity my understanding of the Judeo-Christian concept of parenting that has guided millions of mothers and fathers for centuries.” (p. 18).
While I wonder if this is parenting or sadism, Benton characterizes Dobson as a “fairly mild advocate of Christian child abuse” and goes on to describe other books in this genre, including the book by the Pearls.
If you do some searches on the web, you’ll find a lot more along these lines, a strange amalgam of love and lashings. How absolutely horrid!
Why would anyone trust so called “experts” who have no training in child development or any related area? Why would parents trust these “experts” who advocate hiding their “training”/disciplinary methods from society – does that not set off any alarm bells?
My idea of God is not one who asks that children be beaten up and “trained”. God is supposed to be about love, not beatings with plumber’s supply lines.
[More about child abuse cases in the next post]