Hold ‘em Down, Defeat Totally

Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey is not turning a blind eye to the influences in the death of Lydia Schatz, presumably at the hand of her parents Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz. He has been DA for over 20 years and helped to institute the Child Abuse Response Team. DA Ramsey has not been timid in linking the quarter-inch plumbing supply line with Michael and Debi Pearl’s control-at-all-costs advice.

“…the seven-year-old was held down for several hours by Elizabeth and beaten dozens of times by Kevin on the back of her body, causing massive tissue damage. “It was torture.”"

DA Mike Ramsey

Compare what was done by the Schatz parents to what is taught by Michael and Debi Pearl:

“…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.”

From To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
Chapter 6: Applying the Rod

The Pearls refused to be interviewed by the Paradise Post, unless allowed editorial control over what was reported. However, Michael Pearl did submit an e-mailed statement:

“We do not teach ‘corporal punishment’ nor ‘hitting’ children,” Michael Pearl, CEO of No Greater Joy Minstries, wrote in an emailed statement to The Post. “We teach parents how to train their children, which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument to hold the child’s attention on admonition.”

Really? Judge for yourself.

“Otherwise, tell him to bend over on the bed or couch; and while he is in this position give some choice admonition. You have his undivided attention. Slowly begin to spank. . . . I found five to ten licks usually sufficient. Sometimes, with older children, usually when the licks are not forceful enough, the child may still be rebellious. . . . A general rule is to continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.

“Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain. . . For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. . . . A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.”

From To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl
Chapter 6: Applying the Rod

No amount of “tying heartstrings” or “have fun with your children” advice can mask the harsh, controlling discipline the Pearls teach.

The Pearls are quick to shift blame,

“If indeed these parents were abusive, and that has not yet been proven by the courts, it is regretful that our teachings were not able to turn them from their predisposition to abusive habits,” he stated.

If, indeed?! A child is dead, another one hospitalized for nearly two weeks, and the other seven children conveyed this so-called discipline was normal in their home. The Pearls’ teachings could no more turn someone away from “abusive habits,” as their very instructions set parents up for normalizing patterns that lead to abuse — “defeat totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. . . five to ten licks. . . continue the spanking. . . continue the disciplinary action until the child is surrendered.”

I’ve heard several apologists for Michael and Debi Pearl and their parenting teachings. Usually the defense is along the lines of, “but you and any abusive parent is taking the teachings out of context!”

Really? Seriously? In what context is ingraining in parents an attitude of “defeat them totally” okay? In what context is is okay to use an implement to strike a 4 month old? Pull a nursing baby’s hair? Hit a toddler with a toy? Whipping (the term often used by the Pearls) on bare skin; for “every transgression”? Whipping a baby who cannot sleep? Whipping a year old for crying? Whipping a 3 y/o until “totally broken?” Using a “tree branch” to spank? No matter what the “context” this advice is harmful to both parents and children.

Other times, people defend the Pearls stating that the problems must be that a parent “disciplined in anger.” While yes, anger and rage can lead to a lack of self control, what is taught by the Pearls is harmful whether a parent is hot with anger or cold and calculating. This is an excellent reflection on that idea, Spanking in Anger Isn’t the Problem.

We, in the Church, must shine the light on this false teaching. We cannot keep silent and allow the children Jesus welcomed into His arms to be harmed in His name. We cannot allow vulnerable parents to be led down the path of abuse, as they struggle to love and discipline their children.

My God, have mercy on us all.


Butte County Superior Court: Elizabeth, case CM032008; Kevin case CM032009

Archives of Pearls / TTUAC / NGJ

19 thoughts on “Hold ‘em Down, Defeat Totally

  1. Thanks for this, tulipgirl. Very well written. These teachings must be exposed for what they really are. I’m thankful that God mercifully opened my eyes to that truth. For that I’m forever grateful to Him.

  2. Thank you for your posts on this. It is so disturbing to hear what is written in their books! I just don’t understand how anyone could possibly think that this would be God’s will for parenting. Where is the Grace, Mercy and Love!
    Thanks again, I will be linking to this post!

  3. There is another HOMESCHOOLING organization to check out. The Shatzes went to a homeschooling retreat the last part of January in Sacramento-this time the offending group was from Leavenworth Kansas-by the way theres a prison there-ominous and sort of prophetic-its too bad the Shatzes caught decieved by this other homeschooling wolf…yes they are indeed clever wolves in sheeps clothing
    Titus2.com but they are so sick I nearly threw up from reading their material-Its not the gospel-its another gospel and They ARE the vipers (though very clever) and making lots of money-anyway…they ARE the ones Jesus railed against-now I know WHY he was SO angry at the hypocrits…they lay HEAVY burdens on people only sick

  4. It’s amazing how much evil people can get away with by promoting themselves as God’s chosen spokesmen. The Pearls are con artists, laughing all the way to the bank at the misery they cause.

  5. This style of parenting makes a child terrified. If one’s parents are causing such pain, how can the world be any good? How can any love relationship be healthy, when one expects harm from the closest people in one’s life? How can one develop trust?

  6. And really, is that the example God gives us? Does He sit on us and punish us until we cry “uncle”? He is righteous and just, and patient. This just makes me so sad.

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  8. Thanks Tulip Girl! You said on the net what I have been saying in my home and on my phone since I first heard of this.

    May the mercy of God be ever in our minds as we parent our children…

  9. As I read comments and posts about this hither and thither, I can’t help but wonder when people are going to bring up and make the connection that psychologists and sociologists made a while back, but it’s related (as I understand) to the Gospel as well.

    This is doing violence. Much of the Church has historically understood the Christian vocation as nonviolent, especially before it was secularized with Constantine. If children are taught violence when they break the rules or make their parents mad, they are being trained to not turn the other cheek, but rather to offer the right hook.

    This is an extreme example, and I grew up getting spankings. I turned out the better for it, but much of the mindset of resorting to violence for disciplining children is taken too far and is not grounded enough in behavior modification strategies that are equally productive.

  10. Pull down your pants.
    Put your hands on the tub.
    Bend over.

    Just like that ~ it is very direct. Step by step.

    In addition to the elements others have suggested, when you bring in the shame of nakedness even when children hit puberty, this compounds all the issues further.

    I think I was shocked when I first discovered that all children do not get spanked naked.

  11. Wow – I’m just shocked someone would write the things they wrote! That is outrageous and those sorts of things shouldn’t even be allowed. I always have a hard time spanking my son and when I do it is usually one swat to his backside with my hand – just to get his attention. Discipline isn’t for punishment, but for correction – something the Pearls need to learn.

  12. Thank you for your work to expose the Pearls and those like them. I just did a little bit of research and found terrifying similarities between the Pearls’ methods and brainwashing. I’ve posted it on my blog, and I wanted to let you know about it in case it can help you get the word out. God bless you!

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  15. I thank you for bringing this issue to my attention and peaking my interest in it. As I read through some of the Pearls writings, I realized that this must be the author my now ex husband was reading when our kids were little and before they were born. He had an older son and used some of these methods for him. I didn’t realize where it was coming from, until recently.

    Fortunately, he took the part ‘never spanking in anger’ seriously. Since he was always angry, he left the dicipline to me for the most part. It was a good thing. I spanked on occasion, but never with the flavor the Pearls describe. I cringe that this was the mindset of my then husband and feel like I dodged a bullet.

    “You can no more beat sin out of your child, then someone else can beat the sin out of you.” These words ring true and stick in my head.

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