A Couple Has Been Found Guilty of Murder for a Parenting Style They Got From a Christian Book

Larry and Carri Williams from Washington homeschooled their six children and their two adopted children, aged 7 and 11, from Ethiopia. Neighbors told police that the Williams thought of their two adopted children as “rebellious,” and were known to praise the teachings of a book called Train Up a Child for curtailing their behavior. Train Up a Child was written by Michael and Debi Pearl, who run a church in Tennessee. The book advocates for corporeal discipline of children, including beating them with rubber tubes, swatting babies as young as six months with “a willowy branch,” hosing off kids who have potty training accidents and withholding meals as punishment.

The Williams took the book to heart. Last May, their adopted daughter, Hana was found face down, naked and emaciated in their backyard. Her cause of death was ruled as malnutrition and hypothermia. She had been forced to sleep outside, shower with a hose and had been beaten with the Pearls’ recommended hose on the day of her death. Her’s is the third death to be linked to’ Train Up a Child, but the Pearls themselves are baffled by the link—they say they urge against striking in anger. Likewise, their daughter, Soshanna Easling, defends her parents. “I had a wonderful childhood,” she told The New York Times. “My parents never spoke to me in anger, and I can only remember being spanked a couple of times.”

Her mother said she recalls spanking Shoshanna around 50 times …

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