Amazon: We Find Child Abuse 'Offensive'

By Milli Hill © 2011

The world's largest bookseller, Amazon, has a policy not to carry material with "offensive content."  Their policy description states, "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect."  This seems like a bit of a surface skimmer for such a large international corporation.  Doesn't the definition of "offensive" differ dramatically from person to person?  As far as books are concerned, there is a whole raft of literature, from Lady Chatterley to The God Delusion, that some people, somewhere, find abhorrent, and some people, elsewhere, find interesting and essential.

When it comes to parenting manuals, things are no different. Some people, myself included, find the practice of cry it out (CIO) - leaving a baby or small child to cry themselves to sleep - quite offensive. Yet there are a host of people who do not. Many books are available today on Amazon and elsewhere which promote this damaging practice.  I wrote a post, Judgemental, in which I questioned where we draw the line... At what point do we decide this is not just a matter of "parenting choice," but simply wrong.

There are some manners of treating babies and children that could never be described as "grey areas."  The abuse of children can be physical, emotional, sexual or neglectful. To hurt a child, to make them feel worthless, to betray their naive trust, to fail to offer them even basic care - these are all forms of abuse.  We know, when we meet such terrible situations, that wrong is being done.  We are deeply shocked, upset and saddened.  And we are offended.

Amazon currently stocks several parenting manuals that promote the physical and emotional abuse of children and babies.  The main player in the pack, To Train Up a Child, was recently drawn to my attention by two Facebook groups, The Mom: Informed and The Dangers of Baby Training.  The Mom: Informed published the following advice given by Debi Pearl. Debi is one of two authors of To Train Up a Child, along with her husband, Michael. When they were asked on their website, No Greater Joy, what they meant exactly about using a "rod on babies under 12 months of age." This is her reply. (Please be warned that the content is disturbing):
We never used the rod to punish a child younger than 12 months. You should read No Greater Joy Volume One and Volume Two. We discussed this subject several times in those two books. For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used very lightly as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command. One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands. A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket.  
Later, a plumber's supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00. A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday. It should be a cheerful, directing training, not a correction training. If a 10-month-old plays in the dirt in the flowerpot, a simple swat to the hand accompanied with the command “No,” said in a cheerful but authoritative voice, should be sufficient.  
When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” If he has already let go of her hair, then put his hand back on her hair, so as to engage his mind in the former action, and then carry on with the hand swatting and the command. If you found your baby trying to stick something in the electrical receptacle, keep his hand on the object and near the receptacle while giving him a few swats on the back of the offending hand, and this to the sound of your rebuke—“No, don't touch, No, don't touch.” This time he needs to cry and be upset.  
If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats. You are not punishing him; you are causing him to associate his negative behavior with negative consequences. Never reward bad behavior with indifference. Tell the baby “No” and give him a swat. If your response is new, he may be offended and scream louder. But continue your normal activities as if you are unaffected. Wait one minute, and then tell the baby to stop crying. If he doesn’t, again swat him on his bare legs. You don’t need to undress him, turn him over, or make a big deal out of it. Just swat him where any skin is exposed. Continue to act as if you don’t notice the fit. Wait two minutes and repeat. Continue until the baby realizes that this is getting worse not better. Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out. When this happens, it signals a surrender, so give him two minutes to get control and then swoop him up as if the fit never happen and give him a big hug, BUT don't hold him in the manner he was demanding. Now remove yourself from the area so as to remove him from association with the past event. 
 Don’t ever hit a small child with your hand. You are too big and the baby is too small. The surface of the skin is where the most nerves are located and where it is easiest to cause pain without any damage to the child. The weight of your hand does little to sting the skin, but can cause bruising or serious damage internally. Babies need training but they do not need to be punished. Never react in anger or frustration. If you lose it, get your self under control before you attempt to discipline a child.
Further reading led me to discover that in the Pearl's book, To Train Up a Child:

  • Thumping, smacking and hair pulling are promoted as a way of training a child to obey instructions.
  • Children are compared children to dogs.
  • The use of a rod is promoted, which the authors describe as a "divine enforcer." 
  • A meter long branch or a belt is recommended for use on an older child and a smaller object on a younger child.
  • "Any spanking to reinforce instruction, must cause pain."
  • "If you have to sit on him to spank him, do not hesitate... hold the resisting child in a helpless position for several minutes, or until he is totally surrendered."
  • Michael Pearl says his wife trained their daughter to stop biting during breastfeeding by pulling on her baby's hair. "Understand, the baby is not being punished. Just conditioned." 

I feel certain that no one reading can be in any doubt: such advice does not belong to a grey area of parenting do's and don'ts - it can only be described as child abuse, and it is distressing and offensive.

I have spent the past month researching this matter and I was shocked to discover that this book belongs to a section of parenting literature which appears to all be published by those in the United States who claim to be Christian fundamentalists. Many similar books are also available on Amazon.  For example, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp is discussed in many child abuse awareness locations online and advocates using a rod to punish babies as young as eight months. So does the disturbingly titled, Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman.

 I have also discovered the U.S. case in which a young child was beaten to death, and her sister severely battered, while their parents used To Train Up A Child as their parental training guide. The CNN report, including an interview with authors Michael and Debi Pearl, can be found here.

While reading and researching I have been thinking a lot about censorship, and the banning of books - something I typically wholeheartedly disagree with doing. "Those who burn books, will ultimately burn men," as the Heinrich Heine quote goes.  I have wondered at the wisdom of getting involved in this debate, and other people who have already been involved have told me, "It's pointless."

Many times I have held back from writing this article.  But I also know, from several years of working with the victims of abuse in my professional life prior to becoming a mother, that it is very easy, once we enter this world, to unwittingly find ourselves adopting the distorted thinking that actually belongs to the abused or the abuser. "Perhaps I should not speak up..." "Perhaps this isn't really that bad..." or even, "This is a matter of 'personal choice'..." These are all thoughts that run through the minds of victim and perpetrator, and consequently pollute our own thinking.

I know from experience that it is important when addressing situations of abuse, to plant our feet firmly on the ground, take a deep breath, and hold on very tightly to what we know to be right. It is for this reason that I am writing this article, and for this reason that I have decided to petition Amazon.

Let's be clear, this is not a petition to ban books.  It is simply to ask Amazon to cease their stocking of parenting manuals which advise the physical abuse of children.

What is the difference?  To ban a book is a very big move, with implications on freedom of speech which need to be considered at high levels before such a move is made. I am not saying that this shouldn't happen at some point. But for now, to call on Amazon to review their policy of selling the books seems a logical and more manageable step.  With a petition thousands of signatures long, Amazon will be forced to take some kind of action, even if it is to simply respond and say that they are going to continue to sell the book, aware of the contents.  As such a high profile retailer, whatever action they take will be news worthy, and will raise awareness of these books and the destructive measures they push upon children.

A petition will open up the question of whether such books that justify forms of child abuse should be allowed at all to a far wider group than I am able to reach through my work. 

Hopefully, it will also generate critical thinking and discussion about the whole issue of smacking, hitting and physical abuse as part of an aggressive parenting approach.

More than one person has said to me recently, "Stopping the books from being sold will not make any difference - you cannot stop people abusing their children."  This is not the case. First, people can and do change their attitudes on such matters, and often news articles or changes in policy trigger such changes.  Second, to throw up our hands and say, "It's hopeless, let's stay silent," places us back in the role of victim or perpetrator again, burying our feelings of outrage and pain, and deciding to say nothing.

The fight against all forms of child abuse is complicated, difficult, challenging, and can sometimes seem hopeless, but this does not mean we should not try.  Like the victims, we need to find our voices and cry out.

Please take a moment to sign the petition urging Amazon to stop carrying books which advocate the physical abuse of children.  To view the petition and sign, click here:

Thank you for speaking up on behalf of those who may not otherwise be heard.

11/07/11 UPDATE: Read The New York Times article here.

If you are struggling with discipline in your home, or thinking ahead to the future with your beloved little ones, please review many of the excellent, effective gentle child rearing books available here.

Milli Hill worked as an Arts Psychotherapist for several years before becoming a full time mother. Through her professional work, she gained extensive experience with both adults and children who lived through various forms of abuse. Hill now writes both comical and contemplative posts about motherhood at The Mule. Topics include breastfeeding, positive birth, evidence based parenting, and life for women and mothers in the 21st century.


  1. As a social worker, a therapist, a mother, I am beyond horrified. Most of the parents who I've seen be abusive to their children truly knew no better, or had no better resources/ideas how what to do. This, this "instruction" manual is horrific. It teaches parents how to abuse their children and I feel sick to my stomach right now.

  2. Danielle NethertonSeptember 21, 2011 2:14 PM

    Horrible. That description makes me think of how people will go to any length to justify their abusive actions.

  3. couldn't even finish reading the article, i started crying after the part about beating an infant with a designer rod bought from walmart! what are these people thinking?? i will pray for children who's parents read these books...

  4. Thanks for bringing this to light!! :)

  5. Aweful! No scratch that, it's way beyond aweful! It's inhumane!

    In fact, I can't even begin to believe some people do that... I mean, can a mother really can pop a rod out of her purse and hit her baby in public without somebody calling the police?

  6. I couldn't even finish this. What horror. I cannot imagine not answering to my daughter's every need. I even feel horrible when I am in the shower and she begins to cry. You've never seen me rinse off faster! I just want to take all of those poor children into my home! Prayers for them and the children unborn.


  7. I am a (not under educated ignorant) mom who on does correct my daughter when she needs it. I would never abuse her. We will swat her with an extremely light weight undersized stirring wooden spoon. During her first year we used distraction as correction. If she was playing where she shouldn't we would distract her, etc. As she got older we started swatting. The action leaves a slight sting, but has a slight noise when done that I think is the scariest part. She is by no means getting abused. She recognize she was in need of discipline and is not bitter or angry with us after. I do not agree with harsh punishment and I definitely don't agree with hostil anger. We don't yell or have anger toward her, just loving correction. I have not read any of the authors you have listed- so this is no defense of theirs, just another point of view. By the way, I baby wear, extend breastfeed, co-sleep, dont plan to circ, etc. I do not abuse my child.

  8. We do not allow men to "rod" their wives, children should be no different. Abuse is abuse, regardless of size.

  9. My stepfather believed in these kinds of childrearing methods. I was swatted, and smacked for all kinds of things. And as I got older, his belt was his weapon of choice. And yes, I made it to adulthood ok. But those who believe this is an acceptable method of child rearing, should also consider the following:

    When I was 8 years old that same stepfather shot and killed my 4 year old brother.

    (fortunately he also put a bullet through his own head afterwards)

    What's described in these books is abuse, plain and simple. And I sincerely hope that Amazon responds by withdawing these books from their sales.

  10. My mom could have written this book. There was so much toxicity behind her discipline, it's clear she was channeling some of HER anger and issues, rather than "disciplining" me. Luckily at 18 years old, I was able to move 1/3 way around the world and gain some emotional distance. I'm now 36 and am cordial to her, but am not interested in any kind of relationship. I also refuse to have any grandchildren (like she's been begging for since I was 17) as she would use them as a ticket to weasel back into my life. No thanks!

  11. Leah - though you might feel you're not abusing your child, you're definitely not helping them either! There are much more peaceful, and more effective, ways to discipline your child without having to inflict pain on them! Your child trusts you to be the centre of their world, and when you deliberately hurt them, this betrays that trust! Hurting them this way also teaches them nothing but that if they don't do things as you wish they get hurt. They don't actually learn the real consequences, all they learn is to fear you! Is that really what you want?! Please consider more peaceful, constructive ways to discipline your child rather than just resorting to hurting them! 

  12. horrible! horrible! horrible! shame on Amazon, and on the publishing house that allowed such books to exist!

  13. I have a question for people who research these issues. Much of what I have read on what I consider violent discipline (any kind of swatting, hitting, spanking, "tapping", etc.) suggests that there is a bell curve when it comes to the "necessity" of the violence. In other words, most books suggest that a child "needs" to be spanked most often between the ages of 2 and 6 and then by the time a child is in the 8-11 range, the "need" is basically gone and, except for the occasional spanking to remind them "who is boss", by that point you have a well-behaved child. I also know a lot of people (myself included) who are currently practicing peaceful parenting and peaceful ways of disciplining our children. Many of them have noticed that by age 8-11, the need for correction has also bell-curved its way down. In other words, we also have "well-behaved" children by that age bracket (with obvious occasional exceptions expected in any child!). So my question is: Has anyone done a study that looks at the idea that perhaps that bell-curve of behavior "issues" might be what ALL kids go through and whether you beat them or not, most children will, in fact, be fairly well-behaved in society by around age 8-11? I don't want to imply that you can't have a "good" 5 or 6 yo, because I absolutely know you can, I'm just referring to the frequency of "needed" correction mentioned by spanking manuals. Anyway, that's my question....

  14. If anyone has any information to give me, I would deeply appreciate it... I am passionate about "finding my voice and crying out" as Milli put so awesomely, to help stop this violent trend of physical abuse, especially socially-acceptable spanking.
    I'm a 23-year old college grad (unfortunately without a degree in social work) with this strongly on her heart, but no idea where to go or what to do, haha. If anyone has any advice, large or small, I'd love it. Thanks so much - Sarah

  15. Thank you for writing this post. I agree with you wholeheartedly and will be sharing this petition as well.

  16. Who would even know that such a thing exists as these books? They are incontrovertibly offensive. I'm glad that Peaceful Parenting and MamaMule have brought this to people's attention. I'm looking at my own darling 5 month old, whose soul shines from his eyes with all that is good and of value in the world, and I'm not only horrified, but also utterly baffled, that large numbers of people could be blindsided into thinking that there is ever a circumstance in which "training" an infant could be justified.

  17. I am Milli Hill, the author of this post, and I blog as The Mule.
    I just wanted to reply to these comments...firstly to say thank you to all of you who have shared my horror at the content of these books and have signed the petition this week. Since this post was shared by peaceful parenting the number of signatures has nearly doubled. I'm so thrilled about this. Soon I will take the petition to Amazon, and perhaps equally importantly, to the press. I hope that this will generate 1) awareness of the existence of such books 2) a debate about what we as a society should do with / about such books and 3) lots of valuable and possibly transformative discussion about spanking, discipline and gentle parenting!
    Whatever the outcome, I am sure that the action that we are all taking here will make some kind of difference to the way some people, somewhere, think about the way they respond to their children.
    Just to respond to a couple of people above who have raised questions -
    Aimee...I would like to know what books you have read that talk about this 'bell curve'. I have never heard this idea before. So therefore I don't know of any studies about such a 'curve'. I do know that there are researched connections between a positive and healthy attachment and the responsiveness of a child (therefore more likely to do what you ask), you might like a book called 'Why Love Matters, How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain' by Sue Gerhardt, there is so much valuable evidence therein!
    I also think we need to consider what we mean by 'good behaviour' and what we actually want from our children...we need to question our own motivations for wishing our children would always comply with our wishes and expectations.
    And Sarah...thank you for your passion...there are lots of ways to get involved, the NSPCC is a great charity, there are so many online communities such as this one where you can learn more and share your views, and every tiny action you take WILL make a difference.
    Please do come over to my facebook page at
    to discuss this further.
    Together we can find more ways to make a difference.
    Thank you so much to all of you for getting involved.

  18. "They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste."

    When I beat my kids, I want it to be with something pink and sparkly and pretty!

    "If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats. You are not punishing him; you are causing him to associate his negative behavior with negative consequences. Never reward bad behavior with indifference."

    Damn kid, wanting a HUG from mommy or daddy!! Bad baby, BAD!

    Sarcasm there. I've been "following" the Pearls for years in that I've been studying their family and way of life trying to understand them, and all I can come up with it the men brainwash the women into living lifelong with abuse, and the boys who come after them to keep abusing women. It's beyond spanking a 6-year-old whose had a few warnings and knew that misbehaving one more time mean a spanking and chose to do it anyway. The Pearls go leaps and bounds further and advocate whipping a child who even just looks like he or she is even just thinking about disobeying. They also advocate setting your child up to fail and then whip them for it to "train" them to listen to you.

    "Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out."

    A child learning that mommy or daddy won't even give a hug and so goes to console him/herself is heartbreaking. We tried CIO for about 10 minutes and couldn't take it anymore. We grabbed our daughter, and it was clear it was trauma to her. She clung to us as if we were going to go away forever and didn't want us to go. I don't know how people can think it's right to repeatedly hit a child for now bigger "misdeed" than wanting a quick hug, and then keep doing it until the child's heart is broken and the child realizes the parent has become an abandoner.

  19. "I have spent the past month researching this matter and I was shocked to discover that this book belongs to a section of parenting literature which appears to all be published by those in the United States who claim to be Christian fundamentalists."

    Oh, my dear, please read and to learn more about those fundamentalists. Some other things that will make your skin crawl is the routine marrying off of teen girls to start making babies, the emphasis on a woman's place being a babymaker and "helpmeet" (code word for a servant) to their husbands, it's all right to rape their wives (wives are never to say no, so if he wants it and she doesn't, too bad...for her), and the belief that educating women beyond the basics is pointless (yet they believe in homeschooling). It gets worse.

    The first link is to the website of a woman who escaped fundamentalism, and the second is a forum made up of both watchers (like me) who've studied these families in depth, as well as those who are fundamentalists to varying degrees (fundie-lites follow loosely, like the Duggars, and then there are the regular fundies and the hardcores, though I don't think there are any regular or hardcore fundies on the forum).

    These people are part of a movement that has the goal of outnumbering the rest of us. The see children as "arrows", and the more of them, the more non-fundies they can defeat. This is why they are called "quiverfullers." This movement is growing exponentially, as will happen when eight kids is seen as a small family. We are starting to see these people in government. I'm concerned that such blatant abuse may end up legal.

  20. Aimee, A few European countries have noticed a drastic increase in teen violence and misbehavior after bans on all forms of spanking, tapping, whipping, etc.. They've also found a drastic increase in substantial child abuse to be happening, likely due to parents whose kids aren't responding to non-spanking methods just losing it and snapping.

    An unfortunate truth is that some children simply DO NOT respond to any form of non-spanking punishment. I was one such child - ground me and I was great at entertaining myself with books (my parents refused to ever use a deprivation of education as a punishment, and so the encyclopedias I had and loved so much were never off-limits), pieces of paper I loved to fold in various shapes, I even enjoyed finding patterns in the popcorn stuff on ceilings, and make me go outside instead and I'd just play with my friends, and there were only so many weeds to pull in the yard. I'd be pissed off at my parents for setting rules I didn't like, but I also knew that I didn't have to break that rule a fourth time (three chances, each followed by a warning, and the fourth time got the spanking, which is PLENTY of chances). Whereas the world may as well have been ending if my brother was grounded for one day, so he wanted to be spanked so he could go back outside and play (he got grounded instead). Our parents tailored our punishments to what we each responded to best, and there came a point when certain "creative" punishments worked the best (my brother and I have fond memories of those punishments, annoying at the time, hilarious in retrospect, like when we were picking on each other an insulting each other so our parents told us to be quiet and draw nice pictures of each other, which always ended with us trying to insult each other on paper and then laughing, and I still have several of our drawings!). But there was never ever a punishment that came without warning, and spanking was only ever used when all else failed.

    But there is a major difference between giving a kid a few warnings and a final warning and the child choosing to misbehave again knowing the consequence, and whipping a kid for looking like he or she might have simply been thinking about misbehaving. And countries that have outlawed spanking entirely are suffering for it. This has been leading some researchers to the conclusion that not all kids will naturally straighten up after a certain age, as was once thought. Unfortunately it does no good for those overly-rebellious kids to learn they can simply walk out the door and nothing will happen when they're teenagers. A hope among many non-spanking parents is that kids will see their parents as friends and not want to disappoint their friend-parents. This works for some kids, but not all. Kids aren't one-method-works-for-all beings, and they won't all develop at the same pace, and it's a mistake to think they'll all follow the same path with the same consequence system. They are unique. 8-11? I was very well-behaved by then, and my brother's misbehavior spike between 10 and 12. This is why so many guides annoy me. They presume almost all, or just all, kids are the same and want the same thing and respond to the same thing and develop at the same pace. It's just not true, and it causes more harm in the long-run to let kids "be kids" and expect they'll calm down all on their own at a certain age.

  21. "Children are compared... to dogs."

    I can't think of any respected dog trainers who say that it is OK to hit a dog. Amazing that so many parents still believe it is acceptable (or even helpful!) to hit their children.

    1. wow...that really puts it in perspective doesn't it. The book should be titled "To Treat your Child Worse than Your Dog"

  22. Here's some painful truth.
    I was spanked as a child. I was threatened with a belt, my mother picked up my toys and threw them in the garbage, I was often swatted and otherwise regarded as an inconvenience. I will tell you right now, your children remember those things. It scars them for life. It carries on with them and stays with them for as long as they remember, and it WILL cause them to act out later on to their own children, without thinking about it. My children are four and two, and I am still learning - de-conditioning myself, as it is - to not react with anger and hostility and violence. I am still learning every day, and I slip up sometimes. And that, that alone is AGONIZING to me, because I learned through my experiences that children are to be smacked and hit and threatened when they misbehave. I learned I was an inconvenience to my mother, a single mom who otherwise worked her butt off to provide for me but also was no where near ready for me and did not know how to parent. Why? Because her parents used the same form of discipline on her and her brother.
    It is abuse. It does continue through the generations. It is a learned response, and it DOES NOT have to be that way. Just because something was socially acceptable at one point does NOT make it okay now, much less then. I am always learning more about being the best parent I can be. But my mother's tendencies have left me still fearful of her, and terrified of her anger and wrath.
    To someone who is reading this and thinking it's a bunch of crap, I say, please. From the bottom of my heart. I am telling you, your children WILL remember, and it DOES hurt EVERYONE.

  23. Quite honestly, smacking kids is a lazy way to achieve compliance for parents who cannot be bothered to put in the work of parenting. Either that or these parents are revisiting their own childhood abuse on their hapless kids. My kids are mid-teen now and let me assure readers that you do NOT need to smack or discipline children in order to achieve well mannered, self controlled, caring and compasionate teens and adults who work hard and contribute to society. My children are all of these things and they have never been subjected to discipline of any kind. That is not a fluke, it is because I worked damned hard at parenting. Quite honestly smackers, why did you bother to have kids if that's the best you can do?

  24. Hitting is not okay, period. I don't "lightly slap" my husband when he does something wrong so why would I "tap", "smack", or "whip" my tiny toddling daughter?! Hitting is hitting, I don't care what kind of package you wrap it up in.


    This is what that verse actually means. The bible isn't promoting child abuse, the English translation just makes it look like it does.

    Fundamentalists are either ignoring this, or they've never actually read the bible.

  26. I cannot believe these awful books and teachings are behind the abuse and beating of yet another child. This is simply beyond heartbreaking. Please, Amazon, take these OFF your warehouse shelves.

    From KING5 News:

    Behind a locked gate and down a long, winding driveway, far from the eyes of the outside world, prosecutors say a girl who came to Sedro-Woolley from Ethiopia to find loving parents was met with horrible abuse.

    Hana Williams, 13, never adapted to life with her strict, adoptive parents.
    Court documents say she was considered "rebellious" and was forced to sleep in a dark locked closet, eat table scraps, bathe outside with a hose and was routinely beaten with a plastic rod. Her parents, Larry and Carri Williams, allegedly witheld food for days at a time. At the time of her death last May, the teen weighed just 78 pounds.

    "It's the worst case I've ever investigated," said Dr. Francis Chalmers, a pediatrician who examined the case for prosecutors.

    The night she died, Hana was found by her siblings naked, outside, face down in a mud puddle. It was 42 degrees.

    "I think she was severely abused and ultimately tortured," said Dr. Chalmers.

    Many in the small Skagit County city are wondering how anyone could be so cruel to a child.

    Little is known about the Williams family, except that they were strict homeschooling Christians who rarely left their five-acre property.
    But they got at least part of their parenting advice from a controversial book entitled "To Train Up A Child." It was written by a Tennessee preacher who advocates the infliction of pain and witholding of food as forms of punishment. An adopted California girl was beaten to death by her parents who read the same book. DSHS officials said they plan to take a closer look at it.

    "From what I am aware of, I would describe it as encouraging abuse," said DSHS Area Administrator Patty Turner.

    Carri and Larry Williams were each charged with killiing their daughter, and an additional assault charge for allegedly abusing a little boy they had adopted from Ethiopia. The couple's six biological children have been placed in protective custody. Prosecutors said they did not recieve the same kind of treatment as the two adopted children.

    Because it was an adoption though an international agency, DSHS had no involvement in the case whatsoever. Officials said there were no reports of abuse or other red flags involving the parents prior to Hana's death.

  27. Belt swatting from my dad caused me to fear him and mistrust him my entire childhood. Spanking and swatting with a wooden spoon from my mom hurt my feelings and our relationship and it did NOT correct my behavior (which was usually forgetting to clean my room). The swatting did not happen often. Hitting your child is a great way to damage their sense of self-worth or at least your relationship. Oh and because I got hit, I thought it was okay to hit my younger siblings. And now I sometimes have to fight the impulse to hit my own child. Violence begets violence.

  28. Similar to the last Anon who posted - when I got slapped on the butt with a belt, it made me resentful and angry toward my dad. Mistrusting of him or when he may next fly off the handle for something (stress at work?) and decide that whatever we were doing warranted a slapping. Also with my mom - her anger just shook the house and we got nothing out of being hit/slapped/spanked except to not trust or feel as close to our parents any longer. Also like the last Anon poster, my siblings thought that us being hit meant it was okay to hit each other. I had broken ankles, toes, fingers - all because when upset/angry it was taken out physically on each other.

    This will never be repeated in our home today, and our own children have a much more secure, healthy relationship with us and each other as a result.

  29. I am a mother and a social worker. I want to thank you so much for having the courage and strength to take on something so big! I blogged about this today with links to your post and the petition!

  30. Thank-you. As someone who grew up under the Pearl's training manuals, I really appreciate the stance you are taking. Often, my mum suggests I reread the books. I love my mum but I don't understand how she can look at her six kids and say, we turned out all right. We didn't. Some of us still have awful problems with trusting anyone. I think we felt abused more emotionally than physically though.

  31. I rejoiced in reading this post.

    I sent you my latest newsletter which I pray you will be blessed by.


    Best wishes from Jerusalem

    Samuel Martin

  32. sick sick sick! I feel so undignified to have read about the existence of these books that I actually feel physically sick!

    My parents also believed in smacking/belts/witholding of food/verbal abuse/locking up/etc as a deterrent...nowadays I live thousands of miles away from them, and have not spoken to them for nearly 10years....and hopefully till the rest of my life as do not want any contact whatsoever!!!

    My baby is only 8months, and thinking of these parenting ways just horrifies me. I don't mean to be the perfect parent, I have done/will make many mistakes, but I simply cannot afford to make *this* mistake.


  33. well leah, imagine that your doughter will be a woman someday, that will find herself a husband, that will not ever abuse her, or hit her really strong, just "lovingly correct her". and probably she will not know that anything is wrong, because it wil be well.. just like at parents home. maybe until the moment he will had a bad mood or smthn

  34. I recommend you to read some books of Alice Miller :
    maybe then, you will better understand how it really works, and why you are seeing it as a "loving correction"

  35. I really appreciate your reply...I 'liked' you on Facebook :) I'm going to check out NSPCC... I would love to volunteer in any way I can!! And thanks for reminding me that any tiny action counts. I really, really want to make a difference. :D
    Thanks for what YOU do!

  36. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have commented above. I'm really touched by some of the support I'm receiving, especially when I hear from those of you who have suffered such abusive methods and who now wish to parent differently.
    I just wanted to add that I have now set up a facebook page exclusively for this campaign, Please come and give it a like if you have a moment as this will help to spread the word about not only the petition, but also of the existence of these books and their availability on Amazon.
    Warm wishes and thanks to all

  37. In the Yahoo! Newsfeed 11/7/11:

    Maybe justice is finally being served.

  38. The Pearls respond:

  39. I have signed the petition and tried to get others to do it too. I have a copy of this dangerous book on my laptop and like others I am completely disgusted and confused that Amazon would stock it. It is clear that the Pearl's play on the feelings of parents and any embarrassment that they may be experiencing through their children's misbehaviour then tell them that this can be resolved through their training methods. The book and its methods is about making parents lives easier and not with the best interest of the child. I have read other child training advice on their website and one story that Michael Pearl tells is called Butterflies and Back doors. A 2 year old child has her legs repeatedly belted for opening a back door. Pearl describes this little girls beauty and also mentions his own older stronger body- he then feels good inside when she finally submits to his authority. A sick paedophile romance?? I am a Christian however the fact that these 2 deluded people are hiding behind this religion is not what is concerning me but rather the fact that there are vulnerable children out there getting abused and desperate parents adopting their methods. Lucy McWhirter Browne

  40. My sister told me about this. I to am disgusted and horrified. I have signed the petition and hope that this "crap" will be pulled off their shelves.

  41. Thank you. It is hard to read, knowing that there are parents out there using these "techniques". As a social worker and a parent, it sickens me think of these poor babies and children being abused like this. I hope these books written by crazies will stop being sold anywhere. I have signed the petition as well.

  42. "If a 10-month-old plays in the dirt in the flowerpot, a simple swat to the hand accompanied with the command “No,” said in a cheerful but authoritative voice, should be sufficient."

    If your 10 month old plays in the dirt, smile, kneel down and play with him.

    "When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” If he has already let go of her hair, then put his hand back on her hair, so as to engage his mind in the former action, and then carry on with the hand swatting and the command."

    How confusing is this?! You're hurting someone to teach them not to hurt? But if the baby has already let go, make them do it again then tell them no? What the hell - how stupid can a person be.

  43. this is horrible! its teaching parents how to abuse their kids without leaving marks!!! who in their right mind would think this is okay?! especially to "punish" a child for wanting to be held!

    i bet their kids are fairly messed up, they probably have a horrid relationship.

  44. I live in Denmark where this kind of behaver is consider abuse and is against the law!

  45. When we were pregnant with our first, some friends gave this book to us. We were horrified! We could never convince our friends and they never convinced us and we ended up breaking up the friendship over it because we could not let our son be around that sort of parenting. It's a truly dreadful book on how to break a child's spirit. Thank you for making this issue more apparent to those who might never have heard of it. I had no idea there was a petition but will go sign it at once.

  46. You should have tagged this: Trigger Warning: Spanking, child abuse, corporal punishment. I had to stop reading, it literally made me sick to my stomach, my heart rate and blood pressure rose, and my heart broke. Anyway, this is a really good book ALSO on Amazon that explores this sort of child maltreatment, cloaked in the guise of Religion.
    Ms. Heimlich is also a vocal intactivist.

  47. i cant read anymore of this about these books i just cant now i am off to hold my babies this is wrong and my head hurts omg these books should never be sold this is not right in any way. NEVER HIT A CHILD WITH ANYTHING YOU HAND A ROD OR ANYTHING NEVER NEVER NEVER



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