I corresponded with someone earlier this week who was completely unaware of the death of Lydia Schatz.
I also spoke with a friend of mine who followed the Pearl Method of “child training”
with her children, and when I told her of the tragedy, it became so stressful and threatening, we declared a moratorium on the topic so that we could remain friends. This is a difficult matter that I believe needs to be revisited.
I would like to state from the outset that I think that there are some limited, reasonable applications for spanking of toddlers under certain circumstances, and I am not decrying the practice, nor am I to be confused with a zealous advocate. I wish to point out the potential for harm that the Pearl Method poses, something different than spanking to keep a child from running into the street or putting their hand on a hot burner, preventing greater pain and potential injury.
For those who are unaware, Michael Pearl is an Evangelical minister of No Greater Joy Ministries
who for about the past 25 years or so has advocated spanking of infants and children. He boasts teaching approximately 1 million couples his particular view of “child training.” His developed his model based upon way the Amish train horses by “breaking their spirits.” He teaches that from infancy, a “liberal totalitarian” child struggles to dominate the parent in a war that continues and resurfaces throughout their childhood, and they must be “chastized” until their will “breaks.” Sparing the rod is spoiling the child, and Pearl’s first choice for a “rod” is ¼ inch Teflon reinforced plumbing supply line which should be kept in every room in the house, something that can be worn around the parent’s neck for easy access. More can be read about the practice on other critical websites (critical of Pearl’s methods) such as Why Not Train a Child?
And Tulip Girl
On February 6, 2010, an eight year old child who was adopted from Liberia collapsed in her Paradise, California home after a spanking with plumbing line, reportedly for mispronouncing a spelling word. She died from the complications of acute kidney failure due to rhabdomyolosis (which I intend to explain in this post). Her eleven year old sibling Zariah (also adopted from Liberia) was hospitalized for renal failure but survived. The other children in the family were removed from the home and placed in the foster system. Their parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, face charges of torture, cruelty to a child resulting in harm, and murder in Butte County Superior Court on April 11
My concern: If the Pearl Method of child discipline is followed in approximately 1 million homes, and we have seen cases of muscle cell destruction from parents that were described as mild, kind and gentle who have followed the method, I am concerned that other children have suffered some degree of significant kidney damage that will remain undiagnosed until later in life. Other cases of kidney failure may have not been reported within the Church. With the rising incidence of diabetes which is very damaging to the kidney, I believe that this population of children will be at even greater risk for kidney disease in their later years. A dose of the wrong antibiotic or too many NSAIDS could pose a clinical problem for these children. Are some parents causing kidney damage, not severe enough to produce in their children at the time of “child training,” a level of compromise that could only be detected by a physician who notes these changes in the blood work of these children? How will these people know until it is too late?
For more on this story go to: Under Much Grace