Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Amazon - We Find Child Abuse 'Offensive'

The world's biggest bookseller, Amazon, has a policy not to carry material with offensive content.  In their policy description, they say, 'What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect'.  This seems like a bit of a surface skimmer for such a large international corporation.  Doesn't the definition of 'offensive' differ dramatically from person to person?  As far as books are concerned, there is a whole raft of literature, from Lady Chatterley to The God Delusion, that some people find abhorrent, and some people find interesting and essential reading.

When it comes to parenting manuals, things are no different.  Some people, myself included, find the practice of C.I.O - leaving a baby or small child to cry themselves to sleep - pretty offensive, and yet there are a whole host of people who do not, and many many books available via Amazon and elsewhere which promote this practice.  A while ago I wrote a post, Judgemental, in which I wondered where we draw the line and say, this is not just a matter of parenting choice, this is wrong.

There are some ways of treating children that could never be described as 'grey areas'.  The abuse of children can be physical, emotional, sexual or neglectful. To hurt a child, to make them feel worthless, to betray their naive trust, to fail to offer them even basic care.  We know, when we meet such terrible situations, that wrong is being done.  We are deeply shocked, upset and saddened.  And we are offended.

Amazon currently stocks several parenting manuals that promote the physical and emotional abuse of children and babies.  The main player in the pack, To Train Up a Child, was recently drawn to my attention by two Facebook groups, The Mom: Informed, and The Dangers of Baby Training.  The Mom: Informed published the following advice given by Debi Pearl, one of the authors, when asked on their website, No Greater Joy, about using a rod on children younger than twelve months.  Please be warned the content is disturbing:
We never used the rod to punish a child younger than 12 months. You should read No Greater Joy Volume One and Volume Two. We discussed this subject several times in those two books. For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used very lightly as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command. One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands. A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket. 
Later, a plumber's supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00. A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday. It should be a cheerful, directing training, not a correction training. If a 10-month-old plays in the dirt in the flowerpot, a simple swat to the hand accompanied with the command “No,” said in a cheerful but authoritative voice, should be sufficient. 
When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” If he has already let go of her hair, then put his hand back on her hair, so as to engage his mind in the former action, and then carry on with the hand swatting and the command. If you found your baby trying to stick something in the electrical receptacle, keep his hand on the object and near the receptacle while giving him a few swats on the back of the offending hand, and this to the sound of your rebuke—“No, don't touch, No, don't touch.” This time he needs to cry and be upset. 
If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats. You are not punishing him; you are causing him to associate his negative behavior with negative consequences. Never reward bad behavior with indifference. Tell the baby “No” and give him a swat. If your response is new, he may be offended and scream louder. But continue your normal activities as if you are unaffected. Wait one minute, and then tell the baby to stop crying. If he doesn’t, again swat him on his bare legs. You don’t need to undress him, turn him over, or make a big deal out of it. Just swat him where any skin is exposed. Continue to act as if you don’t notice the fit. Wait two minutes and repeat. Continue until the baby realizes that this is getting worse not better. Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out. When this happens, it signals a surrender, so give him two minutes to get control and then swoop him up as if the fit never happen and give him a big hug, BUT don't hold him in the manner he was demanding. Now remove yourself from the area so as to remove him from association with the past event.
 Don’t ever hit a small child with your hand. You are too big and the baby is too small. The surface of the skin is where the most nerves are located and where it is easiest to cause pain without any damage to the child. The weight of your hand does little to sting the skin, but can cause bruising or serious damage internally. Babies need training but they do not need to be punished. Never react in anger or frustration. If you lose it, get your self under control before you attempt to discipline a child.
Further reading led me to discover that in the book To Train Up a Child:
  • Thumping, smacking and hair pulling are promoted as a way of training a child to obey instructions. Children are compared children with dogs.
  • The use of a "rod" is promoted, which the authors describe as a "divine enforcer". They recommend using a metre-long branch or a belt on an older child and a smaller object on a younger child.
  • They say "Any spanking to reinforce instruction, must cause pain."
  • Also "If you have to sit on him to spank him, do not hesitate... hold the resisting child in a helpless position for several minutes, or until he is totally surrendered."
  • Michael Pearl said his wife trained their daughter to stop biting her during breastfeeding by pulling on her hair. "Understand, the baby is not being punished. Just conditioned." 

I feel certain that no one reading this can be in any doubt: such advice does not belong to a 'grey area' of parenting do's and don'ts, it can only be described as child abuse, and it is distressing and offensive.

I have spent the past week researching this matter and I was shocked to discover that this book belongs to a section of parenting literature which appears to all be published by Christian fundamentalists in the States, many more of which are also available on Amazon.  For example, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp is already talked about in great depth online and advocates using a rod to punish children as young as eight months, as does the disturbingly titled, Don't Make Me Count to Three, by Ginger Plowman.

I have also discovered that there has been a case in America in which a child was beaten to death, and in which the book To Train Up A Child was directly implicated.  Here is the CNN report, including an interview with authors Michael and Debi Pearl.

Whilst reading and researching I have been thinking a lot about censorship, and the banning of books, with which I usually wholeheartedly disagree.  'Those who burn books, will ultimately burn men', as the Heinrich Heine quote goes.  I have wondered at the wisdom of getting involved in this debate, and other people who have already been involved have told me, 'It's pointless.'  Many times I have held back from writing this post.  But I also know - from several years of working with the victims of abuse in my professional life prior to becoming a mother - that it is very easy, once we enter this world, to unwittingly find ourselves adopting the distorted thinking that actually belongs to the abused or the abuser. 'Perhaps I should not speak up', 'Perhaps this isn't really that bad', or even, 'This is a matter of personal choice', are some of the thoughts that run through the minds of victim and perpetrator, and consequently pollute our own thinking.  I know from experience that it is important, when addressing situations of abuse, to plant our feet firmly on the ground, take a deep breath, and hold on very tightly to what we know to be right.  It is for this reason that I am writing this post, and for this reason that I have decided to petition Amazon.

Let's be clear, this is not a petition to ban books.  It is simply to ask Amazon to cease to stock parenting manuals which advise the physical abuse of children. What is the difference?  Well, to ban a book is a very big move, with implications on freedom of speech which need to be debated at high levels before such a move is made. I'm not saying that this shouldn't happen at some stage, but for now, to call for Amazon to review their policy to sell the books seems a smaller and more manageable step.  With a petition with thousands of signatures, Amazon will be forced to take some kind of action, even if it is to simply respond and say that they are going to continue to sell the book.  As such a high profile retailer, whatever action they take will be news worthy, and will raise awareness world wide of these books and their content.  This will then open up the question of whether such books should be allowed at all to a far wider group than I can reach through this blog.

Hopefully it will also generate thinking and debate about the whole issue of smacking, hitting and physical abuse as part of a parenting approach.  Recently more than one person has said to me, 'Stopping the books won't make any difference - you can't stop people abusing their children'.  This is not the case. Firstly, people can and do change their attitudes on such matters, and often news articles or changes in government policy trigger such changes.  Secondly, to throw up our hands and say, 'It's hopeless, let's stay silent', places us back in the role of 'victim' again, burying our feelings of outrage and pain and deciding to say nothing.  The fight against all forms of child abuse is complicated, difficult, challenging, and can sometimes seem hopeless, but this does not mean we should not try.  Like the victims, we need to find our voices and cry out. 

Please take a moment to sign the petition I have created, urging Amazon to refuse to carry books which advocate the physical abuse of children.  To view the petition and sign, click here:
In New Zealand,, To Train up a Child has recently been removed from some book sellers, and could potentially be completely banned.  Adding weight to the argument is the fact that, as in many other countries around the world, it is illegal to smack your child in New Zealand.  Certainly one way of getting the book removed from Amazon would be to campaign for smacking to be banned in the UK, rendering the book and others like it 'illegal'.  If you are interested in reading more about the issue of smacking, you might like to look at the NSPCC document, Hitting Children is Wrong and the Law Should Say So, the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, and you may wish to sign this petition to the UK government, to Abolish the Parental 'Right' to use Corporal Punishment.

In the meantime, I hope readers of this blog are able to get the attention of a goliath such as Amazon, and make them finally see that instruction manuals for the physical abuse of children truly are offensive.


  1. The excerpt you have included here made my blood boil, it's horrendous. What sort of warped thinking is this?!

  2. I agree. Reading about it and writing about it has been hard for me. I really hope we can make a difference. x

  3. Wow, that made me really really sad :(

  4. Gosh! That excerpt was awful! I have a 6 month old and I can't imagine doing that to him. Just awful. Poor babies :(

  5. My skin is crawling! This is so sad and ignorant and selfish of people who find this treatment of babies and children to be acceptable.

  6. thank you all for your comments. i agree it is totally unacceptable. please share the link to the petition so we can get as many signatures as possible. thanks again x

  7. "It is not punishment" they say of pulling the baby's hair when biting during breast feeding, "it's conditioning". Thankyou The Mule for making people aware that the writers are writing out of THEIR early childhood conditioning, and then rationalising their unjustifiable behaviour. Long may you continue your 'stubborn advocacy' for our children.

  8. Just astonishing that this book is sold. Almost too upsetting to contemplate - so I shall be signing the petitions and contacting amazon.

  9. Thank you Anon and thank you Mark for your words of support and encouragement.
    I am so hopeful that we can make a change here.

  10. There are not many books on the market today, which describes in such detail how to correct and direct your child and even your baby. I have read two of these books mentioned, and they are written in a caring and helpful matter, with the child's best interest in mind. The authors are devout Christians who teach Godly wisdom in a caring and loving way. More than anything it stops the parent from getting frustrated and angry and loosing control over it, which means the child is always happy and safe and not in danger of being abused in any way since issues are always being dealt with before they escalate into really bad things.

  11. Absolutely disturbing & disgusting; yes ban them all! ~ my heart breaks for those dear little children. Christianity was established & maintained via violence, against women & children, so no suprise there. Nothing worse than village idiots with attitude ~ us conscious folks MUST ALWAYS take a stand against wrong doing esp when it comes to children. They deserve love & respect. Petition signed.

  12. thank you for signing empressent.

  13. Mbb - in the spirit of freedom of speech i have published your comment, however, i fail to see how hitting a child with a rod or other implement is in any way 'caring', 'loving', or 'in the child's best interest'. i also think it is important to remember that child abuse is not something that only happens when a parent 'loses control' - in many many cases the perpetrator is quite calm and feels that what they are doing it absolutely normal and correct. their thinking is distorted, and it is books such as these that support them in their misguidedness. i do hope you are able to see just how many people are speaking out against such behaviour and allow yourself to consider that they might have something important to say.

  14. I grew up being spanked occasionally, and I do feel like my parents loved me and would not consider myself abused. However, when I had my first son, I said that I would reserve spanking for a last resort if everything else didn't work. My husband and I agreed on this. As it turned out, when we tried other forms of discipline first, we never needed spanking. My dad used to say that we spent too much time "talking to" our son and should just spank him and get it over with. Then, one time he swatted him for something. My son cried, there was a period of getting it back together as the author described in her book, and then I said to my dad, "well, how long did that take?" He stopped spanking my kids by my request. I now have four ages 16 to 8. They are smart, and happy. They are not troublemakers. I would reccommend a book called, "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Knowing what else to do helps a lot for parents who would rather not spank their children. Discipline comes from the same root word and disciple, meaning teaching or instruction. Punishment does not have to be part of teaching if other, more effective methods are used. Thank you for caring about this as much as I do.

  15. thank you so much for your comment missy.
    i think you raise a great is not always easy for us to speak out against spanking (especially the moderate, 'once in a while',kind), as many of us were smacked occasionally ourselves, so to criticise this is to criticise our own parents, which we do not always feel comfortable with.
    i also totally agree about informing parents about what to do instead. if you look at the link i gave to the NSPCC pdf, (Hitting Children is Wrong and the Law Should Say So), there is some interesting stuff about how they banned smacking in Sweden and supported this with a national campaign to re-educate people about alternative ways to approach discipline.
    hopefully one day we may see something similar come about in the UK.
    meanwhile thanks so much for your support.
    share the link! x

  16. I feel for these children... this "advice" is barbaric and should not be condoned by any well-meaning company or business.

  17. Two things I know for sure about Life & Humanity:
    1. there are 2 types of folks: conscious & unconscious. Herein lies the problem...
    2. There's no such thing as a bad baby!
    Bottom line ~ sort your stuff out folks & stop passing crap down the line ~ personal development is NOT OPTIONAL! Children are bright, discovering the world around themselves & they'll push your buttons till YOU grow up!

  18. thanks anon, i so agree, and empressent - hear hear! x

  19. I still have goose bumps on my skin after reading this.Pulling infant's hair so she/he would stop biting?????

  20. I cannot believe that this is even being sold! I agree that children should come with manuels though :) I have 4 from 14 down to 1 and we do not spank in our house. Not because I am against it, but because we have not ever needed to use it. I hurt that people think hitting your children with objects is acceptable. This is truly disheartening to me. My children - WOW - they can be trying at times to say the least, but if I saw tears in theirs eyes because I truly caused them physical pain, I dont believe I could live with myself. I never want to be their source of pain - physically or emotionally! Getting these books OUT of the amazon community is certainly a GREAT start!

  21. thank you asphyxia and certainly beggars belief...and as you say amy, to get these books out of such a mainstream bookseller would be a great start, and a really positive message in the fight against child abuse. thank you for your support x

  22. This is no surprise to me. I discovered last year that both Amazon and, here in Canada, both carry the book and when I wrote, the responses I received said pretty much what you have said here. I don't know whether you are aware but there are two cases of children in the U.S. WHO HAVE BEEN KILLED and their parents claimed to be following the advice of the Pearls. I also find it interesting that when I searched online, several of the largest Christian booksellers do not carry these books. As a Christian, I am offended to the core of my being that people who advocate this kind of parenting could claim to be of the same faith.

  23. Here is an example of what happened to 2 children at the hands of these so called loving christians, because they followed this books advice.

  24. Putting aside any bleeding heart knee-jerk reaction, conditioning techniques described in these books are well known since Pavlov's experiment and do work in creating a response to a stimuli. My main issue with them is that they do NOT work in created the EXPECTED response.

    Children crave attention, and even negative attention is better than none. They quickly learn the correlation of bad behavior-attention, even if that means punishment. So such corporal punishments, instead of prevention bad behaviors, often reinforces them!

    Babies are not dogs, yet even dogs are known to react this way to punishment... What's their excuse not to know that established fact?

    Would you yank you child's arm hard enough to cause pain to pull him or her from the path of an oncoming truck? Yes, of course you would.

    So the issue is not pain, but unnecessary pain. If there was an absolute proof that spanking would save one's child from some horrible fate one day, we'd all do it.

    But there are no such proofs, quite the contrary. I train neither children or animals with pain inflicting techniques because there are some better and demonstratively more efficient solutions available. Pain is not a necessity, but a shortcut for the sadists, the lazy or the miseducated.

    To state that the authors had good intentions is about as good an excuse as saying the Nazi had good intentions in the betterment of the human race: People with good intentions can be utterly misguided, and even more morally bankrupt. Good intentions are no assurance of goodness.

    The long term physical and psychological damage that folks with good intentions can cause is usually underestimated until it's too late.

  25. Signing this and posting it on my Facebook! Thank you SO much! You have taken a load off my mind... I've felt helpless and angry against the Pearls for the longest of times. The most I could do was go to their website and protest their articles with my comments.
    Let's do this thing.

  26. thank you all for these latest comments. i am so grateful for the huge level of support this is getting and also for your views, such as those as Anon above, which provide food for thought.
    thank you also to the other anon for the excellent link, i have posted it to my facebook page ( i had heard about this case and will perhaps write about it in a follow up post.
    for now, thank you again for your support, keep sharing and signing! xxx

  27. I am utterly disgusted having read the excerpt.

    I am a victim of child abuse in many of the facets described, and unfortunately I find my reactions are the same as my father's had been. So it takes effort for me to seek patience and find other methods and manners. I have no problem saying that what my father did was wrong.

    That said, I cannot IMAGINE that someone would do those things to such a young baby.

    Can they not see the irony in hitting your child for causing pain to someone else?! "I can cause pain to you, but you can't cause pain to others..." THAT'S GOING TO BACKFIRE!!! You're only teaching your children to hit others if they do something the child doesn't like!

    And do children have no room to explore anymore?!

    Also, I will not treat my sweet innocent and beautiful child like a dog. Saying that - I wouldn't treat my dog like that!

  28. I agree with all of the comments posted here, except for that of mmb. Mmb, you are brave for joining in this discussion and for that I respect you, but I hope that reading some of these posts will challenge your current thinking and beliefs.

    I work with people who have severe and enduring mental health issues, and I know that experiencing abuse as a child can have life long implications on your psychological health.

    I know that stopping Amazon from selling these books will not put an end to people harming their babies & children, but it will make a statement about what the general public thinks is acceptable, and that is very important.

    I feel that there is a more sinister side to some of the information in some of these books, which is dressed up with religous content. There is no excuse for intentionally harming your baby or child.

    I was smacked occasionally as a child. It was what most parents did in the era in which I grew up. I felt loved by them and I beleive they did what they thought was best.

    Challenging your beliefs is not easy. Since becoming a parent myself I have dared to be different and challenged the parenting skills I learned as a child. It has been a difficult path and I am learning all of the time.

    I will never intentionally physically harm my children as a way of disciplining. People can change.

    My Mum signed the petition yesterday.

    So come on everyone, tell your friends, your family and anyone who will listen about this blog, send them the link asking them to sign the petition. If you are part of any on line forums, post the link and get a discussion going.

    I will do my best to continue to support you The Mule! and will spread the word.

    Together we can make a difference.

    in Love and light


  29. thank you Anon for your comment. i admire you so very much for seeking a better way in spite of your own childhood experiences.
    and chell, thank you for your support.
    both your comments are about breaking the cycle and i would love it if you would add your advice on alternative ways to deal with difficult parenting situations without violence or threats to my most recent post.
    in the meantime thank you again for supporting this campaign.


    The above topic is being talked about on mumsnet - if anyone wants to join the discussion.


    Interesting one of the books you mentioned is being assessed for censorship in NZ.


  32. If we get rid of all the books that are offensive to some people for some reason or another we are no longer practicing freedom of the press and we might as well just jump up and have a book burn.
    Until you have had a child that doesn't respond to the delicate parenting that some tend to, don't judge how others raise/discipline their children. Better yet, don't judge! If there is a true abuse problem, help. There is a far leap from firm discipline of a child and the abuse that you all are referring to. Educate yourselves on the differences and advocate for those who are truly abused, not those who need a firm hand (or spoon) to guide them. If you don't believe in biblical principles then you won't believe in this type of discipline. If you say you do believe in biblical principles but don't believe in THIS one perhaps some review work in is need. You can't just believe in part of the bible, it is a book in whole written through humans who were guided by the Holy Spirit.

  33. JB, I would like to address some of your points:
    1. If you read my post you will see that I very clearly state that I am not advocating banning these books or book burning. Amazon do have a policy on content and they do not carry books that they consider to be offensive. They draw lines, and I suggest that these books cross these lines, as they contain guidelines that many many people would find offensive.
    2. All children, and all people, respond to love and kindness. You seem to be suggesting that there are some children who prefer to be treated cruelly and I find that disturbing and strange.
    3. There is NOT a far leap from the 'discipline' in these books and child abuse. Are you familiar with the definitions of child abuse? I have linked to some info from the NSPCC in the post, do take a look.
    4. I am very well educated indeed on the subject of child abuse. I have worked for many years with the survivors of child abuse, both adults and children, and have even worked briefly with abusers. I have attended many many courses but perhaps more importantly I have sat silently and been 'there' for many people who have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse and I have truly suffered from feeling just a fraction of their suffering.
    5. I don't wish to bring Christianity or the Bible into this debate as I don't find it helpful - Child Abuse is Child Abuse, regardless of your spiritual or cultural background.

    I feel very sorry that you feel the need to defend the way of life recommended by these books. I'm guessing that you have suffered a great deal yourself in order for you to think for one second that this kind of behaviour towards children is acceptable. I hope you can find a path towards reconsidering your current beliefs and finding again the part of your heart that knows that love, gentleness and kindness to all people, especially children, is the right way to try and live.

  34. I agree that it's a slippery slope when we start banning things. Where does it start and where does it end? However when a book advocates this, "A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket." I think we do have to stand up and say "This is wrong!" I speak from experience. I can not look at a wooden spoon without remembering (however briefly) the sting of it on my backside. Same goes for flyswatters. These are everyday objects that I should be able to pick up and use freely and without having some kind of flashback to my childhood "training". We do not use physical discipline with our infant son. There is no need for it. Redirecting him or just letting him have a moment to throw a bit of a fit works just fine. A fit is a normal thing for children. Sometimes they just need to get it out. This peaceful method also works for my oldest as well. Oh and the secret of it all? Patience! Lots and lots of patience! There are no bad babies. Your baby is not trying to make you mad. I do not want to be obeyed out of fear. That's a dictatorship. I want my children to obey because they know I love and respect them for who they are. As far not judging others goes, should I not judge when the child molester down the street molests a little child? What if he wrote a book about it? Should Amazon sell that too? I guarantee there would be no question of to judge or not then. Some things are just wrong and pulling your baby's hair, hitting with an object i.e. spoon, cord, belt, what have you, is just wrong. These are our children and our future and if we want a more peaceful world that positive change must begin at home.

  35. Thank you Anon for these insightful comments. I really admire your way attitude and your desire to make a better and gentler world. xxx

  36. I am no academic and not massively well read but I have two beautiful children. There are ten years between them and they are of different gender so the demands of being a parent have been varied and lets say interesting! However I feel blessed to have experienced the bond of a mother with her children and am wowed each day by the smallest things they do and the people they are becoming. I too, was disciplined in the so called 'era of the short sharp shock ' ie the smacked bottom/leg and on the odd occasion the wooden spoon! Did I grow up to always behave myself even though there was the threat of physical punishment? NO ! I was thankfully blessed with also having a mother who was incredibly loving and caring (I might also add at this point she was physically and mentally abused by her own father)I would therefore argue that in fact what has taught me right from wrong and how to love and care deeply for another human being was the way I was told how much I was loved and the gentle nurturing I received aside from the smacking. I have on a couple of occasions used the learnt behavior of smacking. The disgust and guilt I felt on those occasions once calm only made me conclude that you are in fact purely releasing our own anger and frustration at not controlling a situation and not constructively dealing with the problem itself or the other persons behavior! I now see the technique for what it is....violence! I have always taught my children not to hit each other or other children and show respect and dignity. How can this be reinforced by then hitting them?? I have also found that experiences that I had of being struck just made me feel humiliated and worthless not sorry for what I might have done wrong nor did it give me an insight to how I should behave appropriately. When this literature was brought to my attention I felt sick. Once reading through more thoroughly and reading the blog I am repulsed that anyone can justify the use of violence in such a calculated manner especially to babies and infants. How can anyone possibly deliver a blow and argue that it is ' training ' or given in a caring way its ludicrous! It clearly crosses the line and is therefore abuse and no way should it be promoted or canvased as acceptable behavior! I am sick of hearing about the Human Rights of people being able to write about their theories and ideas put into practice...what about the Human Rights of these victims. By selling these books its spreading a belief that this type of behavior towards vulnerable babies and children is acceptable. It clearly is not! Discipline YES. Violence NO! and lots of love, encouragement, patience, positive feedback etc. Is that not what we are trying to teach our children to behave like? well done The Mule for trying to help make a difference! I'll be passing on the info to friends and associates alike!

  37. thanks for this fascinating comment anon, and for your support xxx

  38. In response to JB: spanking is NOT biblical, please go here and read about why it's not.

    Grace and love are what "our" God is all about, and beating a child is not done out of love or with any shred of grace.

  39. Emma Beatrice Roberts9 October 2011 at 07:46

    I was about to post the same link as dinnae, in response to JB's comments. I don't think these books can be discussed without bringing Christianity into it, as they are read almost exclusively by evangelical Christians and these authors claim - *wrongly* - that the Bible supports their methods. Large numbers of Bible-believing Christians misinterpret the "rod scriptures" and a few other isolated passages this way, and for this reason many see protests against books like these as religious persecution. It isn't. Firstly the Bible does NOT command us to spank our children, especially young children, and the original readers/hearers of the book of Proverbs would not have taken these verses that way. Secondly, the idea that children cannot receive God's cleansing without first being spanked is heresy, since it claims something besides the blood of Jesus is necessary for the remission of sins and/or to cleanse the conscience. Unfortunately there is a cultlike mentality among many evangelical Christians which will not listen to anyone who isn't a Bible-believer. The only way to help such Christians "see the light" on this is to show them that these views on parenting are actually very UNbiblical.

  40. Well said Emma.

  41. I came across your post here from the petition page that I found through an article on's front page.

    For those who claim that this is good, God inspired thing to do because it's based off of a misinterpreted/misquoted scriputre, please turn your Bible to Luke 17:2 which states "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should aoffend one of these little ones." (King James Version) You cannot applaud just a tiny section out of the Old Testament just to convienetly forget the New Testament. Personally, I believe anything that Christ taught that contradicts statements found in the Old Testament is to be followed rather than ignored. If you consider yourself to be Christan, that should mean that you are a follower of his direct teachings, not the teachings that predate His birth and Cruxifiction, which in my understanding and faith pretty much nulifies what was done and taught in the Old Testament.

    Basically, when you use harmful methods to guide your child from unwanted behavior if it's biting while breastfeeding or smacking and hitting another child or doing something that's plain dangerous, you are offending them. You are offending the security that they are supposed to be protected, safe and kept from hurt and harm!

    I'm not saying don't stop your child from jumping off the couch onto another piece of furniture beacuse they will probably get hurt, but instead of taking a switch to them, maybe redirect them into a different activity.. address why they are doing that (probably out of boredom) and see what you can do to engage them in a safer activity, and hopefully not only prevent them from hurting themselves, but from being bored. I know bordeom lead me to doing very crazy things as a kid, some of which resulted in me getting hurt, and one time a broken ankle. We kind of have to protect kids from themselves, because their perception of action and consequences are not fully developed at young ages.

  42. I knew how it feels to be one of those children that are beaten for discipline. My mother believed the it said in the Bible to discipline your child with beating them. I am 26-years-old now, and I still have nightmares about it. I don't trust people, and I am really withdrawn. I was even beaten by other family members as a child. I think it is so wrong to beat on your child. What can a little child do to protect themselves from the ones that suppose to love them, and protect them from other people causes harm to them? I was a quiet and shy child. I did not understand why I was always being beat. I have a 4-month-old baby boy, and I can never treat him that way. People need to be taught that it is child abuse, and you should never harm a child. I can not even write this today without tears in my eyes.

  43. thank you for both of these insightful comments.
    anon, my heart goes out to you. i'm so sorry you were treated this way. you are obviously trying now to make a better world for your son, which moves me very much. hugs to you x

  44. These books seem to stem from a strange alien culture. To quote - "a plumber's supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00" A 'designer rod'? There is something distastefully fetishistic about this.
    I have 3 adult children and 7 grandchildren. I smacked one of my children once and then felt ashamed because I hadn't thought of a more intelligent response. None of my grandchildren have ever been smacked. We live in a culture (village,school,ommunity)where any physical action - even as mild as a smack- would be considered anti-social and inappropriate.
    These books convey scenarios that are not just barbaric but utterly tragic. The authors and their followers seem to have no conception of trust and healthy relationships between parents and their children. My grandchildren's spontaneous, intelligent, caring, curious,(and sometimes naughty) behaviour is a never-ending source of delight for me.
    These books and their consequences are so sad and so unnecessary.

  45. i quite agree marianne.
    there is helpful stuff from the nspcc about this, including a leaflet called 'not naughty but normal.'

  46. I would like to say as a Christian mother of a 10 month old child that what is said in those books is disgusting and makes my stomach turn. No real Christian would ever harm a child! My Bible says that God is one of love, not abuse! Where do these people get the nerve? I've signed the petition.

  47. thank you for signing katy!
    please share the link to the petition as widely as you can, meanwhile, thanks so much.

  48. I am thoroughly disgusted by this. It makes my stomach churn just reading what you have posted here and my jaw was literally dropped the whole time. I am not sure as to how much media coverage this has all gotten, but i will be taking the time to e-mail all the local new's stations about them which consist of about4-6 of them. This needs some serious media attention because in all honesty, those books are promoting child abuse. Spanking our child as a last resort is way different than going to your local wal mart and buying a piece of plumbing equipment to beat your child with is just wrong. In my e-mail to the new's stations I will be linking your site here as well as the petition site. let's get these signatures and get the word out about these books. People need a serious wake up call that this is not right.

  49. Thank you Rachael.
    Of course, I totally agree with you.
    There has been quite a lot of press coverage recently following an article in the New York Times:
    I am currently working on getting further coverage, see this press release:
    Do feel free to circulate this and if you get in touch with me I will send you any further releases. I'm on facebook at, or
    Thank you for your support!

  50. Words can't describe how much I hate this evil douche bag. Amazon will hopefully lose business now until they remove the book.

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  52. Funny thing about NZ is: We have one of THE highest child abuse rates in the OECD. We have a 'Minister for Sport', but no 'Minister for Children'. Child Youth and Family are completely overwhelmed, and tend to take the hard line on mums who are having a hard time with PPD, but tend to forget about the children living in a truly abusive home. The anti-smacking law was made as a way to try and stop our horrible record of child abuse - but as many people know, those that are abusers will continue to do it anyway. I am all for the anti-smacking law, and am glad for the fact that this book is banned here in NZ, but, there is something seriously wrong with the government when all these children are being seriously overlooked. I could post about 10 New Zealand news stories from the past 6 months that tell of horrific child abuse, but I will refrain, as they make me sick to my stomach. Thank you for your role in the educating of people to give them a better life.

    From a mama in New Zealand xx

  53. Thank you very much for your support Andi, and also for the insight into the situation in NZ.
    Maybe you could petition your government to appoint a Minister for Children...or take some other action.
    Do get in touch with me if you would like any help, or support, or I could share links via my Facebook pages.
    Best wishes, let's change things! x

  54. So sickening :( I have signed and shared

    1. Thank you for your support Steph x

  55. I am a Christian and I find it offensive that there are people out there using God to justify this kind of cruelty. I felt quite distressed reading the extract, to think that people will be influenced by this evil book. I will sign the petition.

  56. I grew up in a 'spanking' household (including emotional abuse). It was my dad's second marriage and my much younger half-siblings who got spanked. My now 24 year old brother got the brunt of it and is angry and damaged because of it. He told me that his memories of childhood are awful because all he remembers was getting hit. I am 5 million percent against any sort of physical or emotional abuse as form of punishment. I've argued this since I first witnessed it at 13, and I will stand against it until the end of my days.

  57. I am doing everything I can to spread the word out about this abhorrent and despicable publication. Everything about it is wrong. It MUST be stopped and the people responsible held to account (and preferably given a taste of the treatment they think its acceptable to dish out to defenseless children) Good luck with the campaign, my wife and I will follow it closely!!

  58. As a psychologist, I am working with the children of such parents. These children go on to live decades in pain, develop mental health issues, personality disorders, OCD behaviours. All these parents teach these children is that the world is not a safe place.

    Psychologist, Western Australia