Beating Babies in the Name of Jesus? The Shady World of Right-Wing 'Discipline' Guides
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"But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD -- ONLY MORE SO." [Emphasis Dobson's]
"[I]t is possible to create a fussy, demanding baby by rushing to pick him up every time he utters a whimper or sigh. Infants are fully capable of learning to manipulate their parents through a process called reinforcement, whereby any behavior that produces a pleasant result will tend to recur. Thus, a healthy baby can keep his mother hopping around his nursery twelve hours a day (or night) by simply forcing air past his sandpaper larynx.
"Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of 'original sin' which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster."
Dobson is mild compared to the popular evangelical authors Michael and Debi Pearl. In their book To Train Up a Child (1994) they advocate beating babies.
In the book they recommend "switching" a 7-month-old on the bare bottom or leg seven to eight times as a punishment for getting angry. If the baby is still angry, the urge parents to repeat the punishment until the child gives in to the pain. The "switch" they recommend for an under 1-year-old is from a willow tree and/or a 12-inch ruler.
The leadership of the evangelical world, from Billy Graham to the editors of Christianity Today magazine or the megachurch pastors like Rick Warren, have not called for the banishment of abusers like the Pearls, Dobson or Gothard. These people remain in good standing.
In the Pearls' case, actual criminal complaints have been brought against some parents who have killed their children and who have been following the "methods" in To Train Up a Child. This book can be nevertheless be found in thousands of "respectable" evangelical bookstores. Here's what the evangelicals approve by their silence and complicity, as noted in the Examiner and many other media sources:
A California couple has been charged with murder and torture after their discipline methods caused the death of one of their children and critical injuries for another.
Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz of Paradise, California, are accused of murdering their 7-year-old adopted daughter during a "discipline session." The couple is also charged with the torture of their 11-year-old adopted daughter and cruelty to a child for signs of bruising discovered on their 10-year-old biological son.
The parents allegedly used a 15-inch length of plastic tubing used for plumbing to beat the children, a practice recommended in the book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl of "No Greater Joy Ministries."
The same plumbing supply tools were linked to a North Carolina child's death in 2006, when a devotee of the Pearls accidentally killed her 4-year-old son by suffocating him in tightly wrapped blankets.
Police later found out about the Pearls' recommendations to beat children with this type of plumbing supply tubing from a Salon Magazine article, "Spare the quarter-inch plumbing supply line, spoil the child."
Mr. Pearl, who has no degree or training in child development, writes in his book that he and his wife used "the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules" -- namely, "switches."
On their web site, the Pearls write that "switching" or giving "licks" with a plumbing supply line is a "real attention getter."