It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since the news of Sean Paddock’s death rocked my world.
We had been back in the U.S. for just under a year. God had already worked on my heart in ways that changed my attitude and actions towards my children. I understood the conventional wisdom about the rightness of spanking was a cultural value more than something mandated in the Bible.
And then Sean Paddock died.
Died of child abuse. Died at the hands of his adoptive parents. Died a young four-year-old boy, acting simply as four-year-old boys act.
Why did his mother, who some say always wanted to do the “right” thing, abuse her child to death? Part of the legal defense points to her own abuse as a child. Part of the legal defense and the investigation point to the influence of Michael and Debi Pearl and their book, “To Train Up A Child.”
Within many churches and home school circles, copies of this self-published book was handed out to every new parent by others who bought it at great discount by the case. I read it in the early ’90s, while babysitting for a lovely family. Just enough sounds good or Biblical–build relationships, “tie heart-strings,” nurture your children–and just enough Bible references are scattered throughout, that many parents have bought in to its harmful teachings.
Then Sean Paddock died. Slowly the few voices that had warned about the extremism of the Pearls’ teachings grew. I thought it would shock enough Christians that churches as a whole would stop promoting these teachings. But not everyone was listening. . .
And, honestly, I know there are many hundreds or thousands more who have been abused at the hands of their well-intentioned, loving and Christian parents. Perhaps others have died from the abuse, but the connection has not been made to TTUAC by the media.
Still some parents are lured by the promises of Michael and Debi Pearl of instant obedience and fewer spankings, charmed by their folksy common-sense stories, and deceived by their shiny website with faces of happy families. Some are not only sucked into their false teachings, but promote them actively to others.
Stop a moment.
Three children died of abuse at the hands of their Christian, adoptive parents.
February will always be a month for me to remember. I believe we all need to mourn these little ones and warn other parents.
““Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.””
Six years ago today, Lydia died of abuse from her adoptive parents. I’m reposting this in memory of her and to protect other Lydias (and Seans and Hanas. . .)
One year ago today, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz died after her adoptive parents disciplined her to the point of death.
Lydia was a vivacious little girl, adopted from Liberia. People who knew her say she had the most heart-warming smile.
I sit here crying. Heavy-hearted. February is a difficult month for me: mourning Lydia and Sean Paddock, facing the reality of abuse within the church and Christian families.
Lydia’s adoptive parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, are currently in jail in Butte County, California. They are awaiting trial. (See records here: case numbers CM032009 and CM032008.) Later this month are scheduled the trial readiness conference (2/17/11) and the jury trial (2/28/11). They each have been charged with murder, torture, and cruelty to child by inflicting injury. The murder charge is related to Lydia’s death, the torture charge is related to her sister (also adopted) who was hospitalized but recovered, and cruelty charge related to a biological son’s injuries.
Lydia died from rhabdomyolsis, a condition related to kidney and heart failure from toxins released when muscle tissue breaks down. Lydia’s muscles broke down as a result of repeated beatings over time, though her death was proceeded by an especially long “discipline” session.
Lydia’s parents used a plumbing supply line, which is recommended by Michael and Debi Pearlof No Greater Joy Ministries in their book “To Train Up A Child.” Both plumbing supply line and TTUAC were found in the Schatz home and the older children have attested to those methods being used in their home.
While death is not a common result from the implementation of TTUAC, this is not the first time that a child has died when parents have carefully and consistently applied the so-called “child training methods” espoused by the Pearls. In February 2006, 4-year-old Sean Paddockwas killed. How many other unreported cases of quiet abuse are happening under the influenced of these harmful, unBiblical teachings?
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will( strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
Compounding the tragedy is the professed love of these parents for their children, the desire to nurture their children through homeschooling, the commitment to seek out help in parenting.
Further compounding the tragedy is that Lydia and her sister Zaraiah were adopted. Her parents needed to provide love, security, attachment. . . and instead beat them with a plumbing supply line. Sean was a foster son in the process of being adopted.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the LORD;
exult before him!
Father of the fatherless and
protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
We need to remember Lydia. We need to remember Sean.
We need to remember the children who need families, who are in families.
We need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
We need to open our eyes to the abuse within our own communities.