A new message from Janet Heimlich, Author of the book
"Breaking Their Wills: Shedding Light On Religious Maltreatment"
At 7pm on October 16, I will speak in Seattle at the University Temple United Methodist Church about religious child maltreatment. As it happens, tragically, there has been a case close to home here. Last May, 13-year-old Hana Williams died after suffering months of physical and emotional abuse. According to a detective's affidavit, the cause of death was hypothermia, as the underweight and malnourished child was found outside in 40-degree weather.
Hana had been adopted from Ethiopia by Carri and Larry Williams a couple years before, along with a boy, now ten years old, who was not related to Hana. Normally, children who come from poverty-stricken areas of the world thrive after they are brought to this country. But Hana and her adopted brother entered a world that was likely more hellish than anything they would have endured back home.
According to police records, both children were physically punished constantly for the most minor of infractions. For example, Hana was expected to stand still within a space that was one-foot wide, and her brother, who was deaf, angered his parents when he did not respond them stamping their feet on a concrete floor.
Witnesses say that the children were frequently beaten and made to sleep on the hard floor. Hana was forced to spend hours outside outside in the bitter cold and sleep in a barn. She was also repeatedly denied food and locked in a dark closet for days, while her parents played Bible readings on-tape and Christian music. The Williams have been arrested on murder charges and child abuse charges in connection with the boy.
Even more devastating, we now know that the Williams were followers of Michael Pearl. They had a copy of his pro-corporal punishment book To Train Up a Child in their home, and witnesses say they used a number of Pearl's "training" techniques, including spanking the children with plastic plumbing pipe. Hana's body was covered with bruises and other signs of having sustained beatings.
We can sit and wonder, how could parents abuse children in this way? But we do know that, if what the witnesses say are true, Hana is the third child to die at the hands of those who follow Pearl's teachings. As I have pointed out to the media, Pearl is a minister who uses his authority and Bible verses to prove his message -- that children must unquestioningly obey their elders and that corporal punishment is a God-approved way to gain that obedience.
Pearl's book has sold in the hundreds of thousands. Surely, not everyone who buys it abuses their children. But we must ask, how many children whose parents follow Pearl are suffering on a daily basis? Why do bookstores, such as Amazon, continue to sell such a dangerous book? How many more children must die before Michael Pearl finally realizes that he, a man who has no training in child psychology, should adopt compassionate disciplinary techniques or get out of the childrearing consulting business? (Janet's comments end here)
It is my honor to have Janet on this blog. I urge all of my visitor to support her by buying her book and benefiting from it. In this regard, please see link below. Thank you. Samuel Martin.