Over the past few years there have been three cases of children dying while in the care of their parents. All cases have taken place in different states—North Carolina, California, and Washington. Sean Paddock suffered suffocation from being wrapped too tightly in his blankets, Lydia Schatz was spanked to death, and the most recent, Hana Williams, died of hypothermia after being left out naked in the cold. All parents have been charged with some degree of murder.
The common factors in all these cases is that the children were all adopted, home-schooled, and disciplined with a plastic tube like the ones found in hardware stores. All parents also used the book To Train Up a Child by evangelist Michael Pearl and wife Debi, first published in 1994. The book’s basic philosophy is spare the rod and spoil the child.
Michael Pearl says the book has sold over 670,000 copies and been translated into several languages. The book is quite popular with a few Christians who home-school their children. Apparently the spanking method has become a prevalent use in child rearing these days.
What boils the blood of several parents who disapprove of this publication is the fact that it compares raising a child to training a dog. Parents are outraged by this way of thinking, as they feel children are living, breathing, and thinking human beings and can’t be trained like an animal.
The Pearls use Bible scripture to support their stance in their book. What they do not condone however is hitting a child out of anger. Pearl calls the methods of child rearing in his book traditional methods that have been around for countless years but have gone out of practice. Although spanking is a good thing, it should not be abused. “If you can’t control your emotions it’s not for you,” Michael Pearl says of his method.
There are many who believe the Pearls’ book is barbaric, but the truth is what the parents of Lydia, Hana, and Sean did are not methods described in their book. Regardless of what caused these parents to treat their children this way, they have been charged with murder. Child abuse is child abuse and must be addressed.