The Pearls Remain In The News

Lisa Belkin of The Huffington Post asks, Can Adoption Lead to Child Abuse?

Elizabeth Esther explains why we should hold the Pearls accountable for their teachings in Are the Pearls to blame for child spanking deaths?

Clay Duda of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange takes a look at the history of corporeal punishment in Spanking at Home and in the Classroom, What’s Right and Wrong?

The story has gone international as this post in the Belfast Telegraph demonstrates.

In fact, the story is so big that even Psychology Today is writing about it.

Oh, and by the way, the NY Times Article and its spawns showed us the happy congregation and their happy children.  Read Dulce De Leche’s explanation of why they look so happy.


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…]

More Thoughts Adoption

Someone on Facebook shared some very insightful comments I would like to share with you all:

There’s another element to this story that has not been addressed – and that is the fact that so many adoptive families are ill-equipped to deal with the realities of bringing home an older child, group of siblings, and/or children from overseas. I think that the Schatzes went into adoption believing they were “rescuing” children. They adopted THREE children at one time – one was 8yrs old, one was 4, and one was an infant. They were interviewed by a local news station before they left for Liberia, and the video showed them smiling and calmly talking about how they meant to open their home to a child in need. They had 6 children in the home already. Clearly this couple believed in the teachings of the Pearls and had used it with their 6 kids. They thought they were “in control.” There was no kid-behavior they couldn’t defeat with their methods. And since it worked so well with their 6 kids, surely it would work especially well with orphaned kids who they believed would look up to them as rescuers and godlike figures. They EXPECTED it. Adoption was supposed to make them feel even more powerful and noble. They expected gratitude and obedience, especially from their adopted children. What they didn’t count on was that their 8yr old arrived with emotional wounds from years in an orphanage, struggling with incomprehensible losses and grief in her short life, and anger at the people who thought they were “saving her.” No doubt her behavior was difficult to manage. No doubt the other kids – who were not used to defiance and expressions of anger – were overwhelmed by these newcomers and what they brought to their new lives. The Schatzes expected that ALL KIDS will comply, ALL KIDS should bow down to their parents, that the very real and deep issues arising from adoption loss should be no different from any other difficult “childlike behavior.” When it didn’t work out that way, for the first time they realized they are not in control. Rather than seeking help, they just lost it and beat up on defenseless children, believing that they could somehow punish away all the behaviors they found so intolerable. What they refused to consider was that they were witnessing years of pain and grief and anger that was only compounded by a new and maybe even more miserable life for these children. The problem comes up when parents think they are in control of every action that a child demonstrates. When they don’t ask for help. When they think that they are godlike figures and children are sub-human, deserving to be “trained” like mules and horses.

I responded:

I agree except for one point. They had these children for almost 4 years and were using the Pearl method the entire time. I don’t believe that they “lost it” and beat her up. I believe that they continued to chastise her more and more as she continued to get more and more defiant and eventually it became a death match. She refused to give in and they just kept on chastising her, sure that she would eventually give in. Pearl teaches that his system will work on EVERY child but that the parents must be 100% consistent. What neither Pearl nor the Schatzes realized was that not every child will give in and that with repeated switchings, the tissues will break down and kill the child. I could be wrong, but this is what I suspect. As there was a witness, I believe that the truth will come out in court.

The reply:

Actually, that is what I suspect as well, though I probably didn’t state it clearly. As you say, the other children were witnesses and will (hopefully) speak out in time. My suspicion is that the Schatzes were firm believers that the Pearls’ methods were “the way of proper parenting” and simply believed it would always work – with every child. In every situation. And were surprised and at a loss when they found it did NOT work with their new adoptive children. My suspicion is that those children had never been beaten in their lives before and were outraged and far more defiant against the “trainings” than the Schatzes’ biological kids were. When I suspect that the parents “lost it,” I mean that I believe they just could not fathom what to do about being out of control with a child. They must have wondered: how could that happen when the Pearls’ promised their techniques would work on every child, when they were following all the marital and parenting rules set forth by the Pearls’ books? I think they just didn’t find in themselves the basic compassion and humility they needed to understand the situation and call for help. And I think that ultimately their “training sessions” just became more frantic and violent in their attempts to beat the children into that “submissive whimper” they were promised by the Pearls.

The Schatzes have a court date scheduled for June 24th, one week from today.

link to What Frog and Toad Can Teach Us…

Karen from from Now… Through a Glass Darkly has written a follow up to her last post which I have added to In Depth Analysis

Stand With an Open Heart–What Frog and Toad Can Teach Us about What Lydia Schatz Might Have Said

Attachment Disorder

Love Never Fails blog asks us to consider if Attachment Disorder could have had anything to do with Lydia Schatz’ death. I think that most of us who know anything about Attachment Disorder have considered that question. I’ll be adding this link to The Schatz Story part 2.

Christy’s Testimony

We know the Pearls very well as we have followed their ministry since almost its inception. We have read nearly every article and book, listened to every CD and watched nearly every DVD. We would have come to their defense in a heart beat before we adopted our son but two years ago the Lord showed us clearly that the one size fits all method of parenting that they espouse was not going to work with our son with attachment disorder. We are so thankful for our son now and what God began to teach us about his love and that he began to show us a “more excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31) and that was love.

We could see very quickly that this child would die before he would give in or allow his will to be broken. The Pearls would never say that they condone beatings or murder but the problem is that they say [Read more…]