An unorthodox parenting book is getting a lot of attention following a spotlight in the New York Times today. “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl is, by all appearances, something of a child abuse training manual that advocates the use of “switches” on babies as young as six months old. The first question you’re probably asking yourself is, Good God—who would publish a book like this? That one’s easy. It’s self-published. The second question you’re probably asking yourself is, Good God—who would sell this book? That one is also easy: Amazon.
Yes, the Pearls’ book on how to whip your child into shape—literally—is on Amazon, along with their 14 other books, which include such telling titles as “Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious” (which, interestingly enough, has three and a half stars), “Preparing to Be a Help Meet,” and “The Help Meet’s Journey.” Picking up on a pattern?
The book was self-published by the Tennessee-based Pearls in 1994 and currently has more than 600,000 copies in circulation. The book is currently available on Amazon for $7.95 (plus free two-day shipping for Prime members!) or $3.99 for the Kindle edition, and it’s drawing quite a bit of outrage from Amazon customers.
The book has received over 1,200 reviews—virtually all of which are either five stars or one star—and review titles say it all pretty clearly:
“Horrible, I wouldn’t treat my dog this way”
“Please stop selling this book!”
A quick glance at the book makes it pretty clear why so many Amazon customers are up in arms. “To Train Up a Child” takes the “spanking vs. no spanking” debate to a whole new level as it advises parents to whip their unruly, rebellious, short-skirt-wearing six-month-old babies with a wooden spoon, spatula, or—the Pearls’ favorite—a piece of quarter-inch tubing that you can roll up and carry in your back pocket. The Pearls like the tubing because it doesn’t leave bruises. (Don’t want those debil-worshipping social workers on your back!)
Among the other punishments the Pearls advocate: “fasting” (i.e. food deprivation, or—in layman’s terms—starvation), as well as taking the hose to kids who have potty training accidents.
If your child responds to your spanking/switching/hosing with anger rather than the appropriate fear and submission, the Pearls offer a simple solution to your problem: spank him again. If that makes him angrier, just keep spanking.
As Michael Pearl boasts in the book: “I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry.”
If that demonstration of masculine authority and virility doesn’t turn you on, maybe this will: Michael Pearl is also a champion knife and tomahawk thrower.
Amazon was not immediately available to comment, so it’s not clear whether the company has any plans to remove the book from the Amazon.com website. It wouldn’t be the first time Amazon has had to remove a controversial title from its selection. This time last year, Amazon came under fire for offering a how-to guide for pedophiles, which it promptly removed.