A fine line between abuse and discipline

Date: 2010-02-18

There are few stories that enrage people more than the senseless abuse of children. In Paradise that took form in the murder of the 7-year-old adopted girl allegedly at the hands of her parents.

The same parents are alleged to have also nearly beaten their 11-year-old adopted daughter to death. She's in a North State hospital and is expected to recover. We have learned several things since that tragic Saturday morning. One of those things is the tool the family allegedly used was quarter-inch plumbing supply line and it seems the idea was inspired by No Greater Joy Ministries.

This is a Web site that claims to help parents raise children - even tips on the proper use of physical discipline. Exactly what the proper use is, is always subject to debate. There are people who don't believe in spanking at all and will see any physical discipline as beating. In fact one of our board members has never used physical discipline in raising children.

Others have used some form of it. And we're not about to tell parents how they should discipline their children today. But we did seek to interview the people who run No Greater Joy Ministries. We were able to obtain a written statement from them, which you can read in its entirety on A-4.

However, we found them unwilling to discuss the case or their methods - unless they had editorial control over how the interview was presented to you, the reader. And while we understand their concerns about being misquoted or their methods
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being connected to this Schatz case, we simply could not allow them to control our coverage in this case.

Prosecutors say the Schatz' inspiration to use a quarter-inch plumbing supply line as a "switch," which led to the girl's death appears to come from this ministry. District Attorney Mike Ramsey says that the ministry is in no way responsible for the death of the child. They warn parents to know where the line is between punishment and beatings and they deny approving of what the Schatz' allegedly did saying, "No Greater Joy does not advocate spanking to the point of serious injury."

In the statement to us Michael Pearl, "CEO No Greater Joy Ministries, Inc.," says "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."

We don't know that the parents in this case had a "predisposition to abusive habits." We do know that police believe the tool used to harm the child was one No Greater Joy encourages to be used.

And while they don't encourage use to the point of serious injury, it seems to us that the Ministry should reconsider promoting its use.

They are not legally responsible for this young girl's death, but they may well bear some moral responsibility.

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