One of my favourite bloggers @adadcalledspen has recently blogged about a book called ‘To Train Up a Child‘. It sounds harmless enough, another handy parenting manual full of useful bits of advice any new parent might seek when facing the daunting prospect of caring for a baby for the first time. I remember reading ‘Toddler Taming’ when I was in that position many moons ago.
A parenting manual this might claim to be, but ‘To Train Up a Child’ is not all it seems. Written by American husband and wife team Michael and Debi Pearl, what is startling about their parental guidance is the way they endorse the use of physical violence towards children, as part of a training regime. And this is all carried out in the name of religion, a brand known as Christian Fundamentalism, and through their No Greater Joy missionaries. Now I’m now expert in the various religions, but I am struggling to believe that any religion advocates the use of violence towards innocent children.
I read the free sample pages of the book from iTunes, I wanted to get some insight into the book. Even in those limited pages I was shocked and saddened. Comparing the ‘training’ of children to the training of animals, dogs, mules and horses. Do the Pearl’s really put children and animals in the same category? But the bit that really got me was the matter-of-fact way they advocate pulling a nursing baby’s hair while it is feeding, because the baby has bitten at the mother’s breast. There is a technique to these things, and why should an innocent baby suffer because the mother isn’t able to get it right? I didn’t get it right, it’s not easy, and I gave up after a short while and moved on to formula.
Spencer is calling for the book, in all its forms, to be withdrawn from sale. But are we on dangerous territory when we call for books to be withdrawn? Are we on dodgy ground when we are effectively calling for the censoring of freedom of speech? Actually, in this case, I would say no! This book is dangerous. It has already been cited in the deaths of four children in the United States, and what the Pearls are advocating is illegal. It is assault, child cruelty, child abuse, call it what you like, it is against the law! I cannot imagine why any civilised country would believe that beating up innocent children is OK, so why should a book extolling the virtues of such practices be allowed to remain on sale?
But don’t take mine or Spencer’s word for it. You can read the full transcript of the book here. And you can visit Spencer’s blog @adadcalledspen for more background and information about the campaign, which is gaining more and more momentum. His blogs give ideas about what we can do to help with the campaign, including signing this petition to have the book withdrawn from sale in all its forms.
Thanks to Spencer for bringing this scandal to our attention. And thanks to him also for finding this little gem of a clip!