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Child Abuse Advocates Write and Grow Rich

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Child Abuse Advocates Write and Grow Rich

By Linda Dobson

ThreeGravestones child abuse

Mama, I couldn't find a switch, but here's a rock you can throw at me.

In early 2010 I covered the deaths of two children at the hands of parents who utilized the child abuse “parenting” methods preached and written by Michael Pearl and his partner in crime, Debi. I was glad to see Salon bring news of the book connected with both deaths to the attention of many. With the death of a third innocent child (that we know about) whose parents are charged with homicide by abuse, the New York Times and others, including have gotten on the bandwagon. It’s high time.

The New York Times ran this story: “Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate.” The child abuse advocates say spanking is great for training a child; in fact, use a switch on kids as young as six months-old (to keep them from rolling off a blanket). Or, you may prefer to hit on the arms, legs, and back of an older child, in which case the weapon of choice is a quarter-inch flexible plumbing line that, “Mr. Pearl notes, ‘can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.'” A take-it-anywhere weapon; how convenient.

According to the Times article, Pearl says the abuse methods are modeled on “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules.” He also considers child-rearing “a zero-sum test of wills.”

Sadly, homeschooling gets a bad rap by being wrapped alongside child abuse in the Pearls advocacy. “More than 670,000 copies of the Pearls’ self-published book are in circulation, and it is especially popular among Christian home-schoolers, who praise it in their magazines and on their Web sites,” states the Times article.

As a longtime member of the homeschooling community, I assure you homeschoolers alone don’t account for the sale of 670,000 books. But I know what such sales do mean…

Child Abuse Advocates Write and Grow Rich

If the Pearls clear just $5 per book sold, they are in the now-famous 1% as millionaires. They may make history as being the only ones who got there via child abuse advocacy.

What You Can Do to Help Stop the Child Abuse

The latest casualty of training a child to death was named Hana. Adopted from Ethiopia, the 11-year-old “was found naked and emaciated in the backyard, having died of hypothermia and malnutrition. She had been deprived of food for days at a time, and made to sleep in an unheated barn.”

This is not child-rearing; it is child abuse. I don’t have any answers to put a definitive end to these practices. However, if you would like to help stop this before yet another child dies a horrible death, you can:

  • Speak with parents if you see them heading in this direction. You can explain that child-rearing is not “a zero-sum test of wills,” but rather a remarkable gift they have been given to love, protect, nurture and nourish.
  • Anytime you see a copy of the book “To Train Up a Child,” purchase and destroy it. Concerned parents are finding it at yard sales and flea markets, so for sometimes just ten cents, you could spare a child overwhelming pain and grief.
  • Sign a petition. Amazon: Refuse to carry books which advocate the physical abuse of children.
  • Be a living example of love and respect for your children, and share and keep in your heart the brief story below.

 “But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. And she told him he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying.

“He said to her, ‘Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock you can throw at me.’ All of the sudden a mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.

“The mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. Because violence begins in the nursery–one can raise children into violence.”

~From a peace prize acceptance speech given by Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking 

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7 Responses to “Child Abuse Advocates Write and Grow Rich”

  1. SoCalLynn says:

    I shared this on my Facebook page. I have read several articles about the Pearls (including Michael Pearl’s rebuttals to critics) since I became aware of them (when I started homeschooling). Thanks for the opportunity to spread the word.

  2. Suki says:

    Hi Linda — Thank you for writing this. Of course, ignorant people will latch onto the homeschooling aspect of this story. But we know that abusers are everywhere: They are teachers at schools, doctors at clinics, postal workers, and factory workers. Homeschooling has nothing to do with this, but compassion and understanding of human nature has a lot to do with it. The Pearls may not want to take responsibility for inspiring these killings, but they did. Great idea about buying up these books at rummage sales. And how about this: tear it up and throw it away in full view of the seller!

  3. SoCalLynn says:

    I wanted to add that my husband had a good idea, too. I’m now using some of my book credits at PaperBackSwap to order their books. I will be destroying them as soon as I receive them. (Although it makes me feel a bit icky to even have them in my home! :-)

  4. Cristina says:

    The Astrid Lindgren quote on the bottom is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

    I’ve heard about the Pearls since I started blogging. I had no idea their book was still making so much money. I will keep my eyes open, as I sort books for the library’s used book store.

    Peace.

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