Pearl’s Official Response to Hana’s Death

Michael Pearl  has released an official statement on the tragic death of Hannah Williams on his No Greater Joy Facebook Page.  This time he is not laughing.  He explains that he tells parents not to abuse and gives some quotes to back that up.  He didn’t even quote where he said not to use punishment on a child who has medical issues for not obeying, which I consider to be his best defense.  However, I do not agree with him that anyone can follow his advice without being abusive, as he and I do not agree on our definitions of abuse.  In fact, he never actually gives his definition of abuse, which is part of the problem.  He says not to abuse but never tells them how far to go (other than to be 100% consistent) nor what constitutes abuse.  Then, every time someone crosses the (invisible) line, he blames them for not doing it correctly.

Here is his statement for those who can’t or won’t visit Facebook:

Hanna Williams’ Death – Official Statement

by No Greater Joy Ministries on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 12:07pm

We share in the sadness over the tragic death of Hanna Williams. What her parents did is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of No Greater Joy Ministries (NGJ) and what is taught in the book, To Train Up a Child (see quotes below). We are grieved by Hanna’s death as well as the nearly 1,700 other children that die in this country every year as the result of neglect or abuse. This is part of the motivation of NGJ to provide materials that are helping parents to raise healthy and happy children.

Here are quotes from the book that actually warn against abuse.

“Train up-not beat up. Train up-not discipline up.” “A child needs more than ‘obedience training’, but without first training him, discipline is insufficient” page 4

“Disciplinary actions can easily become excessive and oppressive if you set aside the tool of training and depend on discipline alone to do the training.” Page 9

“Parent, have you trained yourself not to discipline immediately but to wait until your irritation builds into anger? If so, then you have allowed anger to become your inducement to discipline.” Page 25

“Parent, if you are having problems with your children, you can be assured that you are not alone. Your children are also having problems with you. You are going to have to make adjustments in your own life if you are going to help them with their problems.” “… the responsibility for making a significant change is completely yours.” Page 32

“There are always some who act in the extreme. These individuals are capable of using what has been said about the legitimate use of the rod to justify ongoing brutality to their children.” page 50

“The rod should never be a vent for parents’ anger. Where the supreme motivation is anything other than the child’s good, it is inevitable that such behavior by the parent will assuredly create problems.” page 51

These quotes and the rest of the book are about turning the hearts of parents to the children and the hearts of children to the parents.

If, as alleged, Hanna’s parents owned a copy of the book, it is obvious from these quotes and their actions, that they either have not read it or totally ignored its contents. The book repeated warns parents against abuse and emphasizes the parents’ responsibility to love and properly care for their children, which includes training them for success. There are thousands upon thousands of parents (the book has sold over 660,000 copies) who have and are properly applying the philosophy in the book with the joyous results of happy, productive, well-adjusted children in loving successful families.

The alleged presence of the book makes it no more responsible for Hanna’s death than the presence of a weight loss book in the home of an overweight person is responsible for their obesity. Its presence is actually recognition that there was a problem and obtaining the book was an effort to solve it. Unfortunately, if Hanna’s parents own a copy they chose to ignore (or twist) the contents of the book that could have corrected their poor parenting and prevented the abuse and her death.

It is our desire to redouble our efforts to help families and to prevent future tragedies.

Michael Pearl, President

No Greater Joy Ministries

He is wrong about the Williams obtaining the book in an effort to solve the problem.  They were using the Pearls’ materials for years before they adopted Hana and Immanuel.  I don’t know how long ago they last read the book, but I have said many times that they twisted the advice therein.  The only reason I link the Pearls to this tragedy at all is because of their Parents Must Win Every Battle At All Costs mindset which I feel could have something to do with the Williams’ need for control.  I suspect that after all those years of Perfectly Obedient Children resulting from following the Pearls’ teachings, the fact that they were unable to get results from their adopted children pushed them off the deep end.  I could be wrong, but this is how it looks to me.  I thought that back  on Sept 6 and the more I learn, the more it looks that way.


  1. How Many More Must Die? | Love Joy Feminism on February 13, 2012 at 7:34 am

    […] Michael Pearl has issued an official statement on Hana’s death,which you can read here. I think they realize the problem they have. They are not “laughing” in this statement, […]

  2. TulipGirl » Blog Archive » When Friends Defend The Pearls on October 11, 2011 at 8:35 am

    […] Pearls have published a response to Hana Williams’s death. Unlike with Lydia Schatz, they are no longer […]

  3. Jana F on October 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I lived in Ethiopia and know Ethiopian social workers who knew Hana when she lived at the orphanage. They said she was a dear girl and are totally heartbroken.

    Rest in peace, sweet girl.

  4. Libby Anne on October 7, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I just posted about this on my blog as well. The problem is that Pearl teaches that a parent must break his child’s will at whatever cost necessary, and that if a child continues resisting absolute submission then he is in rebellion and, as said previously, his will must be broken. The teaching is that parents have to dominate and master their children, and that the rod is a tool to do this. Of course he also talks about inclining the heart of the son the the father and the father to the son, but in the context of absolute submission and obedience on the son’s part this seems rather silly.

    Furthermore, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Williamses were punishing in anger, and there is actually good evidence that the Schatzes were not punishing in anger. You don’t have to be angry to abuse your children following the slow and systematic unrelenting method advised by Michael Pearl.

    • Zooey on October 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      Libby Anne, that is exactly what I think as well!
      Michael Pearl can yelp”denial, denial” all he wants, but his book is still the same child abuse manual that it always was.
      “Inclining the heart”, more like breaking the heart AND the mind.

  5. Christie on October 6, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I just finished a two part post on my blog over this. I downloaded the ORIGINAL BOOK onto my computer AND made sure i had a hard copy. I am on page 32 and see nothing of the quote he wrote above. Is this quote in the FIRST book or second book?
    He does state in his book in a few places that parents should not punish in anger or out of control….. but then he states that when a parent is calm and coming to chastise the child, the child will be in UTTER PANIC…. why would a child be in UTTER PANIC unless what was about to happen to them was very painful?

    • Hermana Linda on October 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      It’s from Chapter 6: Applying the Rod.

    • QuicksilverQueen on October 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      He uses a lot of doublespeak in his book. He will differentiate between “obedience training” (setting up a scenario so he can spank the child when s/he messes up) and “discipline” (spanking when s/he messes up for real). Then he will give examples of how he would punish/discipline a child when something happened (say, when a toddler grabbed glasses, or when a baby bites the nipple s/he’s nursing at) by pulling hair or thumping, them, then say “This is not discipline. It is obedience training.” when he already had clearly defined the difference!

      It must be in the first one, because that’s the version I have. I’m curious what he updated in the second. The complete quote:

      Parent, if you are having problems with your children, just know that you are not alone. They are also having problems with their parents. One party is going to have to adjust in order to help the other. Since you are reading this book, and not the child, and since you are the more experienced of the two, and since God didn’t say, “Children, train up your parents,” the responsibility is completely on you.

    • Katherine Gunn on October 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      Christie, I can tell you why a child would be in utter panic at the approach of a calm parent. The worst abusers do so calmly. I was not raised on the Pearl method as I’m not sure he was even born yet. But my mother employed whipping with a belt as a means of potty training a 2 1/2 year old (me), knowing that the child had been molested. Even at the age of 40, she could reduce me to cowering in sobs with just calmly, ‘lovingly’ spoken words. My mother could cause utter panic in me with just a glance, causing me to search my mind to figure out what infraction I had just violated. Mind you, she was married to a deacon and taught Sunday school….it took 44 years for me to break off ties to her and even after not having seen or spoken to her for three years, a message on my answering machine or a letter in the mail can trigger a panicky feeling. Just my thoughts.

      PS: Pearl advocates that if your husband molests your daughter, you should confront him and if he repents and promises not to do it again, all’s well. It is the heart of cruelty to force a child who has been molested to continuing living with the molester. I guarantee that he will continue to molest her until he is FORCED to stop. And that child should never have to see him again.

  6. Kristy on October 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I think that his comparison to a weight loss book is a bad analogy. A better analogy would be a weight loss book in the home of someone who starved themselves to death. And if the weight loss book advocated month long water only fasts coupled with excessive amounts of exercise, then, yes, the book would be the source of information leading a person to cause harm to themselves.

    • Hermana Linda on October 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Right. And the Weight Loss book also would contain the quote, “Of course, you must be careful to not starve yourself to death.”

      • QuicksilverQueen on October 6, 2011 at 6:45 pm

        Well, it would contain that quote along with one something like, “you must continue your diet until you reach your desired weight”.

        • Hermana Linda on October 7, 2011 at 9:05 am

          And it would also contain insults, such as, “Many weak-willed people will start this diet and not have the fortitude to stick it out. Then they will whine that the diet doesn’t work. They are doomed to be fat forever.”

          • QuicksilverQueen on October 8, 2011 at 10:11 am

            Ha, yeah…plus some sort of scare tactic, “if you don’t follow our method you’ll be fat for life and you’ll never get a guy!”

  7. QuicksilverQueen on October 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    What he neglects to quote are the other passages that, taken literally, are deadly:

    “if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.”

    “A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.”

    As the copy I have is online, I’m unable to cite page numbers. [-]

    • Hermana Linda on October 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Thank you, those are good quotes to keep in mind. I made your link unclickable because the last online edition got taken down and I worry that if they get too many referrals from us they will take this one down as well.

      • QuicksilverQueen on October 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm

        No problem…I did prepare for that though and copied the whole thing onto my computer just in case. 🙂

        • Hermana Linda on October 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm

          Well, that is good to know. If it ever goes away, I guess you will post it on your site for us to link to.

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