Friday, May 26, 2006

Sick. Torturing kids is sick.

By any commonsense standards, this is not "moralism."

Tennessee pastor Michael Pearl with his wife, Debi... claim to have raised five "whineless" children. At the core [of the book "To Train Up a Child"] is the notion that when parents "train" a child to obey early on, even before he or she is able to make conscious, or conscience-based, decisions, home will be a place of peace and harmony. Here, the term "train" is a reference to Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Neither Pearl has advanced training in child development or a related field. "These truths," the tall, white-beaded Michael Pearl, 60, writes in his book, "are not new, deep insights from the professional world of research, [but] rather, the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules, the same technique God uses to train his children."

As you may have guessed, the Amish do not train their mules by giving them "timeouts." Judge and her husband followed the Pearls' advice when trying to train their infant son Noah not to grab forbidden objects: "Switch their hand once and simultaneously say, 'No.' Remember, you are not disciplining, you are training. One spat with a little switch is enough," reads the book. "They will again pull back their hand and consider the relationship between the object, their desire, the command and the little reinforcing pain. It may take several times, but if you are consistent, they will learn to consistently obey, even in your absence."

...While the Pearls are well known in fundamentalist Christian circles, they were largely unknown to the secular world until March, when their discipline methods were tied to the death of a North Carolina boy and the alleged abuse of two of his siblings. The children's adoptive mother, Lynn Paddock, 45, a devotee of the Pearls' teachings, is currently behind bars. She is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 4-year-old Sean, who suffocated when wrapped tightly in blankets, reportedly to keep him from hopping out of bed. She is also charged with felony child abuse in connection with welts found on two of Sean's other five siblings. Nowhere in the Pearls' book do they advocate restraining with blankets; however, Sean's siblings had apparently been struck with a particular type of "rod" recommended by the Pearls: a length of quarter-inch plumbing supply line.

Paddock's attorney, Michael Reece, confirmed to Salon that Paddock owned "To Train Up a Child" and was a devotee of the Pearls' teachings. He maintains that Sean's death was accidental and that there's a difference between corporal punishment -- which he acknowledges may be "unpopular" -- and abuse. And actually, Paddock's connection to the Pearls may serve as part of Reece's defense of his client. "She's following a recognized philosophy even if it's not a mainstream one. The only one who advocates the PVC pipe is Pearl, " he says. "You can pull a switch off a tree all day long. There's no other reason to buy a PVC pipe -- that's clearly from him."

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you, as an adult, with all your power don't know how to get your kid to behave without resorting to physical violence at the drop of a hat, there's a problem.

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