6th Anniversary of Sean Paddock’s Death

We mustn’t forget Sean Paddock. </3

Sean Paddock

In March of 2006 Sean Paddock’s death was attributed to Pearl’s training advice. His mother was found guilty and the case is now going to appeal

Here is an article about the trial.  

Remembering Sean

Tulipgirl reminds us that it has been ten years since we lost Sean.

3rd Anniversary of Hana’s Passing

Maureen remembers Hana Alemu “Williams” and gives us a small update in Remembering Hana: May 12, 2011.

I should also mention that Feb 6 was the 5th anniversary of the passing of Lydia Schatz and Feb 26 was the 9th anniversary of the passing of Sean Paddock. May they rest in peace.

Parenting in the Name of God E-Book

C.L. Dyck has graciously allowed me to host her free e-book. Her summary text is as follows:

Is the child-training method of homeschool business No Greater Joy Ministries a factor in child deaths? Sean Paddock (2006) and Lydia Schatz (2010) both died at the hands of parents who allegedly followed Michael Pearl’s child training method. But what influence, if any, might Pearl’s teachings have had on the parents’ thinking?

In the wake of intense online debate and controversy in 2010, this project undertook an in-depth review of No Greater Joy Ministries’ doctrinal ideas. It was assembled with the assistance of a 10-member review team who provided theological and editorial guidance for the project.

The e-book is 76 pages, and is available as a free download for the information of the Christian homeschooling community and other interested parties.


Creative Commons License: Parenting in the Name of God by David J. Dyck and C.L. Dyck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

To download, please click here.

Two Year Anniversary of the Death of Lydia Schatz

Today marks 2 years since the death of Lydia Schatz.  Elizabeth Esther shares a video she made 2 years ago which is still very pertinent.

TulipGirl is also Remembering Lydia.

I would also like to mention that Feb 26 will mark 6 years since the death of Sean Paddock. May their deaths not be in vain.

Christianity Today Article on Corporal Punishment

Christianity Today Magazine has an article about Corporal Punishment in their January 2012 Issue which you might want to purchase.  When and if they post it online, I will post a link to it.  This article mentions Hana Alemu “Williams”,  Lydia Schatz and Sean Paddock and the influence of To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl.  It then goes on to discuss the spanking controversy and Professor William Webb’s book, Corporal Punishment In The Bible.

There is a discussion of the article on the Gentle Christian Mothers forum which contains a small quote.

Update:  It has been posted here.

Why Blame The Pearls At All? – Part 2

Yesterday I looked at the question of what the Pearls’ teachings had to do with the death of Lydia Schatz. Today I will look at the deaths of Sean Paddock and Hana Williams.  Lydia died as a direct result of her parents  following the Pearls’ teachings, but that was not the case with Sean and Hana.

So, how does the death of Hana Williams relate to the Pearls’ teachings? It has been confirmed that her parents were following the Pearls’ teachings by someone who has emailed me anonymously. I have also seen a quote from an email list which then got posted (without permission as far as I can tell) on a message board. I then saw it in the comments here and here.  This person confirmed that the family were following the Pearls’ teachings as well.  S/he also gave some clues that I find interesting.

The Pearls do not teach that parents should leave their children outside all night.  The only real problem is that they teach that parents must always win, as I explained yesterday.  Of course, the Williams were way out of line in making Hana sleep outside without so much as a sleeping bag.  Why would they do that?  I can only speculate.  It is commonly reported that Hana had suffered a significant weight loss (I read 30 pounds somewhere).  The comments mention that she was refusing to eat and then stealing food.  That is a very odd accusation.  If you want your child to eat, why would they have to steal food from you?  How could they steal food from their own parents?  Isn’t all the food everyone’s?

Here is a quote from Michael Pearl’s Article, The Angry Child:

If he doesn’t like what is on the table and he is rude, send him away from the table and do not let him eat until the next meal. Do not feed him snacks between meals, and let him get good and hungry. He will then eat baby food spinach and love it.

Now, I can only speculate, I have no proof that is what they were doing. She could have had Anorexia or some other eating issue due to RAD which caused her to refuse to eat. (Edited to clarify: when I wrote this it was speculations before the trial. Now that the trial is over, I can clearly state that there is absolutely NO reason to suspect any kind of eating disorder or RAD whatsoever.)

But, IF they were withholding food to make her eat what they wanted her to and she was stealing food in the night, they would probably end up locking up the food.  If she were somehow managing to get it anyway, and IF it were true that she was peeing on the rug, it might make sense for someone who has been pushed over the edge to make her stay outside.

Another interesting and possibly pertinent quote is found on the No Greater Joy website and is from the article, Rodless Training

“There will be times when a spanking is appropriate. But you are prevented! Then use your power as the caretaker and dispenser of all privileges and responsibilities to make his actions totally counterproductive. If you can’t spank the flesh, starve it with an embargo. Stand your ground and do not let the little fellow find satisfaction in his pursuits. Stay on duty, demanding obedience until he surrenders his will to your persistence. If there is a way to deny him access to some means of indulgence that relates to the offense, then by all means as governor of the island on which he lives deny him normal privileges until he complies.”

So, this is what I’m seeing.  A family who was in way over their head, dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and trying to make the Pearls’ teachings work in a situation for which they were not designed.  My thoughts are that they lost control of reality.  They needed help and did not seek it.  It’s a real tragedy.  They probably didn’t think that it was cold enough outside to kill her.  But with her body weakened by lack of food, she succumbed. (Edited to add now that the trial is over: there is no reason to suspect RAD whatsoever.)

I do not know much about the death of Sean Paddock. All I know is that he was wrapped tightly in order to keep him in his bed and he suffocated. Again, the Pearls do not teach parents to do that. His mother might have been trying so hard to win that she did not consider the consequences of her actions, but I can’t really blame the Pearls’ teachings directly for his death.

So far, all 3 cases of children dying at the hands of followers of the Pearls’ methods have been adopted.  It is apparent that these teachings are particularly dangerous when applied on adopted children.   It is very important that the organizations which oversee adoptions are made aware of this connection.

Update: April 6, 2012

I have recently learned of the teachings of Nancy Campbell of, Above Rubies, regarding using international  adoptions as a way to “rescue” the heathen children and “evangelize” them.  I learned this in a public thread on  Gentle Christian Mothers (starting with post 9).  Of course, I can’t know for sure, but IF the Williams were influenced by this mindset, it would explain a lot.

Update: Sept 9, 2013

I have learned during the trial that everything was fine with Hana until about a year after the adoption when she went through puberty.  Apparently she got a drop of blood on the toilet seat according to some, yet Carri claims that she was smearing her pad on the walls.  At that time, they started describing her as “opositional” and “rebellious.” It would appear that Carri got unreasonably strict and/or she started standing up for herself. That was when things started going very bad. Witnesses claim that Carri said that she was expecting a little girl and they sent her a woman. Carri has also been described as a germophobe and Hana was a carrier of Hepatitis B which obviously scared Carri.

Please see my follow up post on the Williams Trial here.

Why Blame The Pearls At All?


Many people question why anyone could possibly blame the Pearls at all for the death of Lydia Schatz. I totally understand the question. No matter what the Pearls teach, they did not actually hit the child. And they insist that the Schatz family did not follow their instructions properly.  So, did they? Well, we can’t really know for sure. I would like to explain here how I  believe that the Schatz parents could have been following the teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl to the letter and still killed Lydia Schatz.

First of all, let’s look at who Lydia Schatz was. This post explains her background. She was adopted from Liberia at the age of 4. She did not learn to obey at an early age, she learned to be stoic in an orphanage where showing weakness could be fatal. She might even have had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).  It is important to note that all the children who have died at the hands of parents who were following the Pearls’ teachings have been adopted.

Now, let’s look at the Pearls’ teachings.  Pearl teaches that the parent must be 100% consistent. Here is a rather long quote from the book, To Train Up A Child to show this teaching in context: [Read more…]

The Death Of Lydia Schatz on Wikipedia

I just found the Wikipedia article on the Death of Lydia Schatz. It seems to be factual.  Interestingly, they link to this site.  Only, they don’t link to any one post, but to page two of my blog.  That doesn’t seem helpful at all, it must be an error.  They also have an entry for Michael Pearl which mentions both Lydia Schatz and Sean Paddock.  Interesting.

Edited to add:  Libby Anne fixed the error as you can see in her comment below.  🙂

In Memory of Lydia Schatz

Sunday, Feb 6, 2011 was the first anniversary of the death of Lydia Schatz.  Here are the posts I have found in memory of her so far

In memory of Lydia Schatz by ukrainiac in which she gives a brief summary of the story and links to Tulip Girl’s post.

Remembering Lydia Schatz by Tulip Girl who gives an emotional explanation of exactly what happened and how and updates with current trial information. She also reminds us of Sean Paddock who died on Feb 26, 2006.

in memory of lydia schatz by That Mom who gives a short summary and refers us to Tulip Girl and Parenting Freedom.

When Religion Becomes Cult-Like and Deadly from Parenting Freedom which contains 4 quotes from Pearl’s teachings to illustrate the dangers therein.

In Depth Analysis of Pearl’s Teachings


To Train Up A Child: An Examination of the Pearl Method by Rey Reynoso who had done a great job of digging deep and analyzing the Pearls’ teachings using the Bible to refute them.

Parenting in the Name of God: Introduction from Scita > Scienda  Note:  This is the 1st in a series.

Lydia The Child The Pearls Laugh At! from Emotional Abuse and Your Faith

Is Michael Pearl Responsible For a Girl’s Death? Matthew Raley, a pastor who uses Tedd Tripp’s teachings in his church, speaks out against Pearl’s teachings.

so does Michael Pearl bear any responsibility for the death of Lydia Schatz? by Thatmom

When Parenting Kills – What Can We Do? By Katiekind

Spanking in Anger isn’t the Problem Water Lilly explains why we can’t just assume that the Schatzs were out of control.

In which I talk about the terrible event I mentioned 2 weeks ago By Paul M, who knows the Schatzs, analyzes the Pearls’ teachings and explains how wrong they are.

Hold ‘em Down, Defeat Totally By TulipGirl, who explains exactly how the Pearls teachings caused this death

No Greater Joy Children Takes a look at everything taught by the No Greater Joy Ministries from the perspective of love, respect, and not hurting our children

The brokenhearted Sinner By Aaron

Pearl Of Too Great a Price Matthew Raley, a pastor who uses Tedd Tripp’s teachings in his church, speaks out against Pearl’s teachings.

The Pearls, abuse and a false gospel From Roscommon Acres

How many children must die before Mike & Debi Pearl are held accountable? By Elizabeth Esther

The World’s Most Dangerous People From Just Another Clay Pot

Senseless Deception By Spunky

Child Discipline or Child Abuse? by Virginia Knowles

child abuse in the name of Jesus by Thatmom

update on the Lydia Schatz case and why it is not about spanking by Thatmom

I write this with a heavy heart by Jennie Hall

No Greater Joy Ministries “Biblical” Parenting Couple Beats Child to Death from Peaceful Parenting

Hermeneutics, Life, and Death by Randy Greenwald, Pastor, Hope Presbyterian Church, Bradenton, Florida.

The Behavior Modification Gospel Matthew Raley, a pastor who uses Tedd Tripp’s teachings in his church, speaks out against Pearl’s teachings.

A Time To Weep . . . for Lydia Schatz and Sean Paddock from A Time To Laugh

Debra has a lot of very good, thought provoking posts about the Pearls’ teachings at Debra’s Random Thoughts.  See especially:

Rebekah Pearl Part One–Her Childhood
Rebekah Pearl’s Young Adult Years
Rebekah Pearl Anast Part Three-Life After Marriage


Whose Heart Failure? from Now… Through a Glass Darkly. Also see its followup
Stand With an Open Heart–What Frog and Toad Can Teach Us about What Lydia Schatz Might Have Said

ThatMom asks us to consider the question, are they true or false teachers?

“Pearls” of Wisdom? by Woman Uncensored includes numerous quotes from NGJ site

More arguments can be found here.

From The Gentle Christian Mothers Forum

Selected posts from The Gentle Christian Mothers Forum:

Wendy’s chapter by chapter (almost) review is here.

NGJ’s New Addition to “To Train Up a Child

Review of Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp

SACH Review

Gangbangers and Gluesticks

She noticed! And commented! YAY FEEDBACK!!!

Jumping Ship by M. Pearl

Common sense and intuition

Spanking “works.”

Punitive Parents Not Growing Up With Children

Strong-Willed Children Vs. Gentle Discipline

Proverbs parenting?

warped out of context

So what can we DO?

Pearl book, “Jumping Ship”–anyone heard of it?

so…just how DOES a person wind up hurting their children?

What does Pearl actually teach?

Another adopted child…parents followed Pearl methods

Pearl’s “plant your tree in the midst of the garden”

Could Some Forms Of Punitive Parenting Lead To Creating A Sociopath?

Provoke not your children to anger

Somethings’ bothering me

Salon Article on Pearls

Sean Paddock’s Autopsy / Mandy Locke Article

Strong Christians using Pearls

Pearl Advice Leads to Death–The Reporter Answered Me

No Greater Joy/The Pearls

Question on Pearls Methods

The Pearl children are so happy–

Death linked to Pearls’ advice–sensitive

Proverbs 23:13-14/Q’s about the rod

what made you change-

Oh Mamas!! I am so sad and sick to my stomach!!!

Kinda dissapointed

Former Pearl followers-

more rod discussions

Drafting a letter to my MOPs group about Pearls

The Pearl’s “Good stuff”

How can I make the switch from the Pearls to GCM?

Created To Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl -graphic content-

Did I make sense AND super news

The sad thing is…

I finally read the Pearl’s site – and my DH’s response

Newbie comment about Pearls

Setting Children Up to Fail

Friend tried to tell me Pearl was a loving dicipline.

Resources about Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Resources about Tedd Tripp (con’t)

Guess What I Got in the Mail Today?

Letter for Homeschool Leaders

TulipGirl sent me the following letter:

Dear Friends,

I would like to pass along this important letter penned by my friend, Mrs. Karen Campbell, regarding the recent death of Lydia Schatz.  Her letter is filled with much wisdom.  I would encourage you to pass it on to anyone you feel might benefit.


March 1st, 2010


An open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ who serve in leadership to homeschooling families:

On February 6, 2010, Lydia Schatz, the seven year old homeschooled daughter of Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, died after having been brutally beaten for mispronouncing a word while reading out loud to her mother. Butte County, California District Attorney, Mike Ramsey, reported that evidence shows the child was severely and repeatedly whipped, most likely for several hours, with a 15” piece of ¼” plumbing supply line, the same instrument that also left her older sister with severe kidney damage and in critical condition. The other seven Schatz children are now in foster homes, their parents having been charged with torture and murder.

While it might be comforting to believe that this is one horrific, isolated case of abusive behavior, the fact is that Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were Bible-believing Christians who welcomed not only their own children into their home but three adopted ones as well. Their friends reported how shocked they were to hear this story about parents whom they called “loving” and “warm” and children who were “polite and well-behaved,” words that could describe most homeschooling families.

But Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were also devotees of the book To Train Up A Child and its authors, Michael and Debi Pearl, and they patterned their “discipline” methods after the Pearls’ instructions, down to the very instrument they used to beat their children.

This is not the first time a child has died at the hands of parents who embraced the teachings from TTUAC. In 2004, four year old Sean Paddock suffocated after his mother also beat him with ¼” plumbing supply line and then wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from getting out of bed. She is now serving time in jail for first degree murder.

The killing of precious children in the name of “discipline” must stop and those of us who desire to come alongside and encourage homeschooling families must do all that we can to see that this sort of tragedy never happens again. I believe that the Pearls’ teachings on chastisement unto repentance, found in their books and magazines and on their website, is not just one among many approaches to disciplining children, but rather, is a form of child abuse and even one that is considered to be assault and battery of a child and punishable by law in many states.

As Christians, it is even more important to understand that the Pearls’ philosophy is based on the aberrant theology of “sinless perfection,” a perspective that leads to the notion that parents are able to change a child’s sinful heart and save a child’s soul. Here are some excerpts from TTUAC:

“The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.”

“The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.”

“Let the guilt come, and then, while they are yet too young to understand, absolve it by means of the rod. When their time comes, the principles of the cross will be easy to grasp.”

The Holy Word of God tells us that only by faith in the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, an act of His mercy and grace, is a person saved. (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”~Titus 3:5) Physical chastisement by a parent cannot truly absolve a child of guilt nor can it cleanse his soul. To teach this and to lead any parent to think otherwise is promoting false doctrine and false hope in the works of man.

To that end, I would like to ask those who serve as homeschooling support group leaders and others who seek to serve within the homeschooling community to join the growing number of voices who are expressing their outrage and horror at the death of little Lydia Schatz and I would ask you to remove any recommendation of Michael and Debi Pearl’s teachings you have on your blogs or websites. Please stand with me and publicly say “This is wrong and it must stop.”

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

By His grace,
Karen Campbell,
homeschooling mother and grandmother

International Business Times Looks At The Pearls

Today the International Business Times featured an article about the pressure being put upon Amazon to stop selling the Pearls’ book, To Train Up A Child.  This is a very good article except for a small confusion about the children who have been killed.  Sean “Paddock” was killed in 2006, Lydia “Schatz” in 2010 and Hana “Williams” in 2011.  For more information about what the Pearls’ teachings had to do with the death of Lydia, please see my post, Why Blame The Pearls At All and for more information about what the Pearls’ teachings had to do with the deaths of Sean and Hana, please see Why Blame The Pearls At All Part 2.


Mothersson from GCM says,

I have an idea. Will anyone join me in writing to Oprah and asking her to interview Michael Pearl / have Lisa Ling do an investigation on his teachings? Many people respect Oprah. I think that could make some head way to end the assault of children. As Oprah says, “when we know better we do better” Oprah actually asks viewers here to suggest show topics.

Here is a sample letter:

My name is ________, and I have a suggestion for your show. Recently there has been a lot of press over the tragic death of Lydia Schatz. Lydia was killed by her parents, Ken and Elizabeth Schatz. From the outside they looked like a normal healthy family, but obviously something went terribly wrong.

I believe the answer lies in a teacher who claims to teach “God’s way for raising children.” His name is Michael Pearl. His so called ministry is known as No Greater Joy, and his teaching is written in the most complete form in his book entitled “To Train Up A Child” In his written material, he promotes an extreme form of spanking that includes spanking a 3 month old child.

His writings not only tell parents that it is okay to abuse their children, but instructs them that this is God’s only way to raise Godly children. He warns that failure to follow his teachings completely will result in children who are disobedient, and menaces to society.

This is not the teaching of the entire American church. We would love to see a program exposing Michael Pearl, and his abusive teachings for what they are. It would be wonderful if there was a duel interview with a christian teacher who supports gentle discipline of children to contrast his dark, and abusive teachings.

Thank you for considering my request,

A loving gentle mama

Here is another sample letter:

Dear Oprah;

I am writing to request a show topic and person/s to interview. The facts of this practice have been virtually ignored by the major media even after the death of two known children of whose parents were followers.

Michael and Debbie Pearl run No Greater Joy Ministries, are coauthors of the Book To Train up a Child of which over 625,000 copies are currently in print and publish the magazine No Greater Joy.

In 2006 Sean Paddock died after being tightly wrapped in blankets by his mother who was a follower of the Pearls teachings. Though the Pearls never specially mentioned tight blanket wrapping, on p.46 the Pearls say that “if a child does obey being spanked, spank them anyway. And if you have to sit on him to spank him, do not hesitate. And hold him there until he has surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher. Defeat him totally”.

This year, Lydia Schatz was beaten to death and 7 year old sister nearly died from being beaten with plastic tubing that the Pearls endorse. “The rod we speak of is a plumbing supply line that can be bought at any hardware store or large department store. It is slim, flexible, plastic tubing that supplies water to sinks, and toilets. Ask for 1/4 inch supply line.” [http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/articles/general-view/archive/2000/may/01/questions-answered/]

Following Lydia Schatz death, Michael Pearl responded to accusations with humor. “My granddaughters laugh with joy after giving their baby dolls a spanking for “being naughty” because they know their dolls will grow up to be the best mamas and daddies in the world-just like them… Even my chickens are laughing . . . well, actually it is more like cackling, because they just laid another organic egg for my breakfast and they know that it was that same piece of ¼ inch plastic supply line that trained the dogs not to eat chicken”. [http://www.facebook.com/notes/no-greater-joy-ministries/laughing-by-michael-pearl/378945952575]

You have spoken of teaching children about unsafe touches. The huge numbers of children being raised by Pearl like methodology don’t have a voice.  A show on the Pearls’ teachings could prevent stop many parents from using those methods by learning of the risks.