Child Training

A controversial Christian “child training” practice has come under fire from other Christians who deem its processes “abusive” rather than disciplinarian.

A controversial Christian "child training" practice has come under fire from other Christians who deem its processes "abusive" rather than disciplinarian. "Four years ago this month, a 4-year-old boy named Sean Paddock died when his adoptive mother wrapped him in blankets so tightly that he couldn't breathe. His adoptive mother, Lynn Paddock, was later convicted of his murder. The case brought some mainstream attention -- including a 2006 Salon story -- to the popular, pervasive and controversial child ‘training’ practices of Michael and Debi Pearl, which Lynn Paddock was said to have followed. The teachings of the Pearls and their Tennessee-based No Greater Joy ministry, which brought in $1.8 million last year in sales of books, DVDs and the like, are widely known and normalized across many conservative Christian churches and home-schooling communities. Perhaps the most popular of several ultra-conservative Christian figures to carry forward this centuries-old strain of Christian thought, the Pearls advocate a specific program of even-tempered, non-injurious corporal punishment, or ‘chastisement,’ designed to bring about total obedience -- even by infants -- to their sovereign parents. By no means do the Pearls advocate suffocation with blankets; they are emphatically against ‘abuse.’ But they do not spare the rod. From their Web site: A length of quarter-inch plumbing supply line is a ‘real attention-getter’."

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