Both families used the discipline techniques described in books by Michael and Debi Pearl, To Train Up a Child.
The Pearls’ teachings are still huge in the homeschool movement and we must speak out. We need to stop people from following the Pearls before any more children are killed.
Direct Quotes from the Pearls’ book To Train Up a Child:
On pulling the hair of a breastfeeding baby (p.7).
“One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. My wife did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, she pulled hair (an alternative has to be sought for bald-headed babies).”
On switching their own four-month-old daughter (p.9).
At four months she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good, we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.
On p.60 they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”
But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.
On p.79 they recommend whipping a seven-month-old for screaming:
A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”
On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a fifteen-month-old she is babysitting, ten separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.
After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.
On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a two-year-old:
This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.
On p.59 they recommend whipping a three-year-old until he is “totally broken”:
She then administers about ten slow, patient licks on his bare legs. He cries in pain. If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, then she will wait a moment and again lecture him and again spank him. When it is obvious he is totally broken, she will hand him the rag and very calmly say, “Johnny, clean up your mess.” He should very contritely wipe up the water.
On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her:
If a father is attempting to make a child eat his oats, and the child cries for his mother, then the mother should respond by spanking him for whining for her and for not eating his oats. He will then be glad to be dealing only with the father.
Links to Other Pearl Warnings
Disclaimer: Just because I list a link to an article does not mean I agree with that site or their links.
- Why Not Train A Child? -This web site is a clearing house of information and arguments against the Pearls’ teachings.
- Michael Pearl Laughs at His Critics, No Apology for Dead Children
- Cult Characteristics of the Pearls
- World Magazine Commentary: To Brainwash a Parent
- Timberdoodle Co.: Discipline and Murder
- Bradenton SHARE: Support Homeschool Activities Reaching Everyone
- Home Education Magazine: Bring Back the Boycott
There are hundreds of articles on this topic. You can use Google to find out more.