November 25th, 2011
02:49 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Ungodly Discipline

Tonight AC360 continues its investigation into the suspected practice of physically punishing children in the name of religious beliefs.  Some say spanking children helps make them "right with God."  But many of those children now say they were abused, and sometimes seriously injured.  Tune in at 8 p.m. ET for the "Ungodly Discipline" report.

Filed under: Ungodly Discipline
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Gerry Schaffer

    I found the story, truly ungodly. And pardon my criticism of the church and religious order, but unfortunately there is a pattern of such abuse in these homes. The more furvent the teachings of the gospel the more extreme are the abuses. What was sinister in Anderson Cooper's program was the total lack of control and monitoring by the Family & Children Organizations and the State or Federal Government. Are all these officials, police included, such good Christians they are blinded to child abuse. I grew up in a variety of homes and institutions from the age of four until I joined the military, what was terrifying from the report was the weird rules and punishments (excessive water drinking etc) and even more frightening the inability to leave the premises. Life imprisonment? No wonder the stories never reach the light of day. I was whipped with a cane, spanking with a paddle seems child's play. But I survived the caning and beatings, my memory today dwells upon the happier times and bonding with other kids. I don't believe we had such an unnatural set of rules!

    November 28, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  2. Cory

    I went to that school for three years! I remeber the acrsser and the adminstrator. I DO NOT belive this is the way it is. I as spanked twice while attending that school and it did not do any damage. I am better person due to my education at that school. I think this is really being blown out of proportion.

    November 27, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  3. sherri gibson

    I spanked my son growing up. He had a 5 count before he ever got a spanking and then had to sit in his room for 5-10 minutes before the spanking, in anticipation for his smack and some reflection time for his behavior.

    In all my years of spanking I probably had to spanked him 7-8 times. As he usually stopped before I got to 5. I quit at age of 8 when he said it didn't hurt. So we went on to groundings.

    A spanking is consequences for actions. Not to be done to control. And religion wants to control.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  4. Josh

    The title of this segment is insulting to those of us who are godless. If anything, it should be called Godly Discipline. Humanism is opposed to abusing children, while religions support it (even going so far as to say disobedient children should be killed). Being ungodly is not the same as being immoral.

    November 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  5. Sherri L. Cook

    The First Amendment is about protecting our rights and our freedoms. It is NOT a cloak of invisibility behind which a person can hide any and all crimes – in the name of religion. Perhaps it is time that we make child abuse a federal crime without a statue of limitations.

    November 27, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  6. Laurie A. Couture

    Let's call "spanking" what it truly is- It is hitting, assaulting and committing violence against a child. The fact that people are still believing that violence against a child is an acceptable way to raise them is appalling and barbaric to me. Over 60 years of research has consistently shown that "spanking" has long term traumatizing effects on children. Trauma can alter neural development and scars psychological development. A secure and deeply connected parent-child relationship is the best way to prevent serious problems in children- Violence almost guarantees your child will become rageful, angry, depressed, rebellious or subservient. Most parents who hit do not have a basic understanding of child development or children's needs. When a child of any age has a need, it is a parent's job to meet that need. If children's needs are not met, they will naturally put out alarm signals, often in the form of acting-out behavior. If we meet needs, we can heal the damage and reduce acting-out. The goal of parenting should never be obedience- The goal is to raise happy, healthy, emotionally stable and compassionate people- You cannot do this with violence, punishment and force. Please consider reading my book, Instead of Medicating and Punishing: Healing the Causes of Our Children's Acting-Out Behavior by Parenting and Educating the Way Nature Intended.

    November 27, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  7. Zack in NY

    I was spanked as a child.... but not like what was featured and defended. Does spanking have a negative long term effect? I'd say yes in the respect department, I'm 25 years old and it's still yes ma'am and no ma'am when it comes to my mom. Now, what was featured was NOT spanking, that was beating. That was hatred, does that have a negative long term effect? YES, please stop beating you're children and hiding behind the name of God

    November 27, 2011 at 4:03 am |
  8. mary

    I am severely disturbed by this episode on so called godly discipline. I have a seven month old son and the thought of hitting him with a switch or beating him into submission makes me cringe. These lunatics start the spanking at 6 months of age. I hope that this show will shed some light on this cult and these children can be rescued. I wish there was something I can do

    November 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  9. Hudson

    I believe children should receive a spanking when they have done something wrong, but beating a child is inexcusable. Disciplining a child should include a conversation and a spanking, depending on what the child did. I want to know why the show did not address the issue of race. They only showed the two African girls who suffered from the abuse, not the white children. I think this case is not about "ungodly discipline," it is about two white adoptive parents who abused their African adopted daughters using the excuse of the Pearl's book. Stop blaming everything on God, these are humans who are inflicting harm on children.

    November 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  10. Kristin

    Now let's do a show about how wonderful thoughtful attachment parenting is...to let these spanking/controlling parents know there is another way!! Throw in some unschooling information and we can balance this out...I think that the parents beating their children like this were likely abused in the same way and need to see an alternative way to parent.

    November 26, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  11. Maria

    It really depends on the child...and how you're defining "spanking". For any child, Beating for hours w/ plumbing supply line is nothing but abuse. Swatting a child's rear end a few times...not so much. And you really have to be sensitive to what works for each individual child. Swatting their butts(our definition of spanking) is in our "discipline toolbox", so to speak, but is rarely used. Outright defiance, direct disobedience & bold-face lying are pretty much the only thing that could get them swatted, but even then, it's a last resort. And even then, it depends which child it is. For instance, our older two are pretty easy going. Hearing "I'm disappointed in you" from her daddy dissolves our oldest daughter to remorseful tears. Our 2nd son will turn into a mule if you spank him, but stand him in a corner for 10 minutes...end of the world. So, like I said, it really depends on the child as to whether you should spank(see my definition above). No child should ever be beaten or treated in the way that Lydia Schatz was. Poor baby.

    November 26, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  12. Terry

    Any Christian using the "spare the rod" verses to justify beating their children should learn their bible a little better. These verses from Proverbs were originally written in Hebrew. The Hebrew language has different words for children at different ages, which the English language does not have. The Hebrew words used in these "spare the rod" verses refers to a 12 year old. In addition, the word "rod" does not mean a stick or other implement for beating. The rod is a symbol of authority. There are many Christian websites giving full biblical interpretations of these "spare the rod" verses. Christian parents should read them. CNN should include a segment discussing the actual meaning of these verses.

    November 26, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  13. Jim

    Of course, it has an affect long term. It teaches a child the difference of right and wrong. It is wrong to disobey your parents (Ephesians 6:32). It is right to obey what your parents tell you to do. It is wrong to steal. It is wrong to lie. It is wrong to drink beer, wine, etc,... There is a difference between right and wrong. Were you born with a perfect non-sinless nature? No, we all knew how to sin and so God teaches to discipline your child to turn him from their own sinful ways.

    November 26, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  14. john

    i think spanking is good to some extent i will agree, it keeps your child disciplined and grows up having respect for there parents. and the same bible everybody is chastising will one day save there life or even yours, this clearly explains crime situation in young people all over the world cause they are growing up with godless values and no discipline.

    November 26, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  15. Michael Zeestraten

    I believe in " Spare the Rod Spoil the Child". But sometimes a light slap on the rear, and a firm verbal warning does a lot of damage as far as rearing a child. Heck I had to leave the room the first time because I cried more than my son. What you showed on your show was the few that makes real Christians look bad. The one lady from Indiana that was in the house for awhile and explained it was because the children that was in there had no disipline before going in. That was why it was cruel to them.

    November 26, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  16. Vincent

    >.> Spanking,and teaching them is one thing yes,but beating them so badly that there is marks,bleeding and death,i think thats to far,>> then again...if you read the christian bible,if i can remember,if a child is really bad,kill them. but eh,

    Point being,Parents who believe that crap,control yourself,yes you can get angry with them,and may slip,but you parents need to learn as well xD,sometimes a simple spank,and telling them why,and giving them love in about a hour or so,so they have time to think,but anyway..no one will listen to this xD

    November 26, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  17. Susan

    I believe that spanking with the bare hand is not deemed overly abusive with negative longterm consequences. The Bible does encourage that we do physically discipline our children, BUT I do NOT believe in the manner that was displayed by those within Ungodly Discipline. Those so-called "disciplinarians" ought to be immediately reported to their states' governments and dealt with according to the state law because that is criminal intent and unjustified abuse. Using belts, whips, plumbing instruments, possibly carpentry instruments and the like is NOT intended for human discipline!!! I do hope that Anderson Cooper mails a videotape of Ungodly Discipline to EVERY state governor, along with a suggestion that their government investigate what, exactly, takes place within these so-called religious reformatories. And such places MUST answer to their inquiries!!!

    November 26, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  18. Janna

    When people hit their children, they are showing that they are big and strong and the child is little and weak. They say they do it because of their religion and the bible when they just need someone or something to blame it on. Do these people pride themselves on kicking puppies too or are they advocates for them like they should be for their children?

    November 26, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  19. naoma foreman

    As someone who was beaten as a child I decided that if I ever had a child I would NOT hit him/her. Had one daughter who was NEVER EVER SPANKED nor slapped. My husband was also in total agreement. I think it is terribly wrong to hit
    a child. This program was quite "disturbing" to me. Of course, I have no religion. The woman who talked about obeying rules as to when to go to the bathroom and the diaper was also quite "strange." What stupid "punishment." A friend told me that in the Talmud it says that if you must hit a child "use nothing stronger than a shoe lace." I liked that sentence. And "spare the rod" is just so much GARBAGE!!!!!!!!

    November 25, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  20. Joe

    The contents if this program is not new. This went on in the villages in Alaska for years. The people that was supposed to people of God.were far from people of God. They were cruel. When you do stuff to children, the child will never forget. A lot of people my age here in Alaska know all this.

    November 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  21. Andrew

    My Dad is a pastor of a IFB church in Texas. What happened to the wemen and girls was wrong. My dad and mom spanked me but they all ways loved me and never beat me. And I go to church fellowship's And I have never heard beat your kids being said. See when there is beating after beating after beating and no love shown that is where abuse come's in. And my dad and mom told me no or don't do that before they spanked me.

    November 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  22. Ted Harazda

    Unfortunately, religion (not just Christianity) gives, and has given for centuries, a convenient excuse for some demented, delusional people to commit all kinds of crimes and atrocities upon others.

    November 25, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  23. Judy

    Spanking IS hitting, period. It should not be called "discipline". It is abuse. Children are our most vulnerable citizens with no voice. How sad that no politicians in Indiana will speak up FOR the children. I am disappointed that CNN did not press authorities further on why nothing is being done.

    November 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  24. Bobby Farrow


    I believe that proper discipline to children, I spank my son if the violation is bad enough to warrant a spanking, however, I grew up with family members who are Pentecostal to the fullest and are willing to use a paddle or switch cord for any violation from the kid. This is ABUSE! People believe in the bible I understand that, but people making choices about how they are allowed to act based off a book that is 1700 years old is ridiculous!! I don't care if a person is extremely religious they have no right abusing children!

    November 25, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  25. Kathy

    Beating a child in the name of God is disturbing!And it needs to stop. Laws need to be made to protect these kids.So sad

    November 25, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Rebecca

      I TOTALLY agree. I live in a military community among people who go to a certain church and their church actually teaches them to beat their children with a wooden spoon. It disturbs me on so many levels. What day and age are we in!!??

      November 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  26. Debra

    I live in Central Il and grew up for a few years with a step father that literally beat the "hell" out of me "in the name of God" and at that time we did attend a strict Baptist Church. Finally, a physician told my mom that the reason I was sick was because I had an ulcer and that my nerves were shot...she finally left this jerk. To this day, 32 years later, I still do not like belts. This kind of corporal punishment only serves to inflict severe pain, brain washing and to keep you under their control.

    November 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  27. kayleezee

    In regards to your story on Ungodly Discipline, you asked the preacher's daughter if it was fair to make a sweeping categorization of the "discipline" as abuse, that obviously the young child that died was an exception. I think it is always abuse. I was raised the daughter of a Pentecostal pastor that happened to be my mother. The "discipline" (abuse) was so severe I was often left bloodied and beaten so severely I wasn't allowed to go to school. True, I didn't die, but I suffer from PTSD and DDNOS due to the abuse I suffered. I have nightmares years later from the abuse I suffered at the hands of my parents. So yes, it is always abuse and yes it has lasting negative effects on the child.

    November 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  28. Carman

    Who is the perfect parent? Spanking is one form of disciplining children I believe that you should have used Pastor Ed. Young or a wider selection of Christian leadership. At no time has any church spoke of beating a child for an hour. I could not administer that level of punishment despite what any book told me.

    November 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  29. Emily

    There is a right way and a wrong way to correct a child and parents should discipline their children because they love and care about them. Discipline is to help children become self sufficient, law abiding, productive members of society. I am a Christian and do not believe in beating children and then trying to use the Bible to support the abuse.

    November 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm |