The Duggars don't go into specifics when they talk about how they discipline their kids, but fans are worried the TLC reality family follows the advice of Michael and Debi Pearl, the authors of the controversial parenting book To Train Up a Child, which advises parents to use corporal punishment to make children completely obedient. But it's not just spanking this Pearl method recommends, apparently…
According to Babble, the Pearls' training methods reportedly include using plastic tubing to hit children, "swatting" babies with plastic tubing or a wooden spoon, hitting older children with paddles and belts, exposing children to cold weather and withholding meals as discipline, "training" children with pain before they disobey, and inflicting punishment until a child is "without breath to complain." Additionally, as Babble reports, at least three child deaths have been linked to the Pearls' method. A Change.org petition asking Amazon to stop selling To Train Up a Child garnered more than 145,000 signatures.
As Romper notes, no parent in the Duggar family has openly admitted to employing corporal punishment, but Jill and Derick Dillard were accused of using the Pearls' "blanket method" — i.e. putting a blanket around a child and swatting the child if he or she moves from the blanket — on son Israel in 2016. On reddit, user wifewithalife pointed to now-deleted social media photos showing Israel wrapped up in a blanket and visibly upset.
Meanwhile, an old version of The Original Duggar Family Blog's FAQs said Michelle Duggar practices blanket training — but didn't specify whether she uses corporal punishment. And as another reddit user pointed out, the Fort Rock retreat center run by Austin Forsyth's parents, Joy-Anna Duggar's parents-in-law, will host "family camps" led by Michael and Debi Pearl later this year.
reddit users also cited the Duggars' redacted police report In Touch posted amid Josh Duggar's molestation scandal — specifically a passage from the 29th page that seems to reveal Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar spank their children with a rod. "Inv. Taylor asked [redacted] about getting spanked," the report reads. "[Redacted] said that when [redacted] is bad that [redacted] mother and dad spank [redacted]. Inv. Taylor asked what they use to spank. [Redacted] said they have a rod. Inv. Taylor asked if they do this to all the kids and [redacted] said yes. Inv. Taylor asked if they leave any bruising. [Redacted] said no."
Also, redditor sylviaplathological claims the Duggars had To Train Up a Child listed on their website under "Family Resources" for years. "My bet is that they quietly took the link down when the Pearls started making headlines," fellow reddit user MyStrangeUncles said in a comment. "I don't think they stopped using the same methods, they just realized that it looked bad."