'To Train Up A Child' authors defend corporal punishment book

CBS 12 News, Florida/February 27, 2012

As a world-renown knife and tomahawk thrower, Michael Pearl knows something about accuracy. Pearl and his wife Debi say their portrayal by national news outlets like CNN has been anything but accurate.

"There are two cases only in 17-years in which children died at the hands of their parents and they found our book in the home," said Michael Pearl.

The Pearls have written more than thirty books. But it is a child rearing guide, "To Train Up A Child" that setting off a national controversy over the use of corporal punishment.

"This is called a plumbing supply line. It comes from Walmart or anywhere you want to go. It's real light, its real flexible, can roll it up and put in shirt pocket. It weighs less than a wooden spoon. I thought well that would work. Many parents have used one of these," said Michael Pearl.

The book set off controversy after its teachings were linked to the deaths of three children who died after being severely abused by their parents in North Carolina, Washington and California.

"When parents are engaged in other and extreme forms of abuse and they harm a child in the name of spanking the child, there is no way you could link that back to a book that's written that advocates love and compassion and gentle spanking. Not harming the child, never spanking in anger," said Michael Pearl.

"I think people can read anything and you take from it what you want," said Michelle Covington.

Covington who works for Centerstone, a facility in Tennessee and Indiana offering mental health services, says physical discipline is different for everyone and should be used with caution.

"In terms of what long-term effect it can have, it depends on what we're talking about. Any kind of physical aggression, we're showing our behavior is we don't want you to do that, but we're hitting you as a way of showing you we don't want that to occur and that sends a message," said Covington.

Critics argue "To Train Up A Child" is pushing some parents to abuse children in the name of religion.

"Training them up to grow gardens. Training them up to enjoy country life, or whatever life. It's observation and participation. That's what training up a child means. That's what our book was about," said Debi Pearl.

The Pearls say spanking is a biblical principal and only a small part of their book. A book they stand-by.

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