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Nov 16 2011

They’re not here to play

Frank Schaeffer fills us in on the world of evangelical child discipline for the glory of god, otherwise known as child abuse.

There’s the Texas judge, there are Michael and Debi Pearl, there’s James Dobson, and there’s Bill Gothard.

And it is not just individuals who are abused. Whole “Christian” organizations are involved. According to a report by Channel 13 WTHR Indianapolis (and many other media sources over the years),

“At first glance, the Bill Gothard-founded and run Indianapolis Training Center looks like an ordinary conference hotel. But some say there are dark secrets inside. “They’re not here to play,” Mark Cavanaugh, an ITC staffer tells a mother on hidden-camera video. ‘They’re here because they’ve been disobedient, they’ve been disrespectful.’”

He’s talking about young offenders who are sent to the center by the Marion County Juvenile Court. Critics of the program here, however, have another view. “This is sort of a shadow world where these kids almost disappear,” said John Krull, executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. The pitch for the centers says that they were founded by Gothard because: “At the age of 15, Bill Gothard noticed some of his high school classmates making unwise decisions. Realizing that they would have to live with the consequences of these decisions, he was motivated to dedicate his life to helping young people make wise choices.”

The WTHR report goes on to detail how they help these young people make “wise choices”:

“But Eyewitness News has learned of disturbing allegations about the center, including routine corporal punishment — sometimes without parental consent — and solitary confinement that can last for months.

And just last week, Child Protective Services began investigating the center. That investigation involves Teresa Landis, whose 10-year-old daughter spent nearly a year at the center — sent there, according to Judge Payne, after she attacked a teacher and a school bus driver. What happened next outrages her family and critics of the ITC. The girl allegedly was confined in a so-called “quiet room” for five days at a time; restrained by teenage “leaders” who would sit on her; and hit her with a wooden paddle 14 times. At least once, the family contends, she was prevented from going to the bathroom and then forced to sit in her own urine.”

For Jesus. It’s all for Jesus, people, so it’s ok.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Monado, FCD

    So it takes a TV station to find out what Child Services, regulatory bodies, and the police can’t? Is anything being done about it?

  2. 2
    den1s

    “Religion poisons everything”…. Hitchens

  3. 3
    Yakamoz

    I’m trained in a method designed to safely restrain and seclude kids. Children never NEED to be restrained, but sometimes restraint and seclusion is the best choice to prevent the individual from causing serious harm to him/herself or others.

    When the adult makes the choices to initiate a restraint, the safety and dignity of the child at all times is paramount. When secluded, a child must be monitored at all times. It’s crucial to preserving the therapeutic relationship that the child knows that staff is concerned about their physical needs, such as going to the bathroom.

    Secluding a kid in a room for 5 days, or in solitary confinement for months – FOR MONTHS! – is pure evil. It’s the last thing that’s going to help that kid. Sitting on a restrained child is criminally negligent. That is how children die in restraints – they can’t breathe because some untrained, apathetic staff person is compressing their rib cage. It should go without saying that intentionally inflicting pain, such as by paddling the child, is never acceptable.

    That the state would send children to be abused by these theocratic neanderthals is extremely disturbing.

  4. 4
    Bryony Vaughn

    What’s even more twisted is they charge ATI families, like the Duggars, to send their children there to work and gain life skills and experience in the field of child development and such. The also charge members to have their kids work for free running hotels and other income centers.

  5. 5
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Is… is this even legal?

  6. 6
    Nele

    @WMDKitty

    It’s religious, who cares whether it’s legal. :/

  7. 7
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    1. Corporal punishment must be illegal. Anywhere by anybody for any reason.
    2. Telling people to use corporal punishment must be illegal. I know, First Amendment yadda-yadda, USAsians take free speech very serious. But honestly, what good is a first amendment that fails to protect a small child from violence?
    We see the results.
    But most important is a public debate, a public discourse. Corporal punishment must be denounced loud and clear, people must be made aware that there’s no excuse for beating a child. Why is kicking puppies generally frowned upon but beating children met with approval or plain disinterest?

  8. 8
    sailor1031

    An example of the kind of rampant abuses that occur when the state abandons its responsibilities and outsources to an unqualified privateer. Happens all the time these days. We’re now starting to hear the same (predictable) stories regarding private prisons. Do you suppose the Marion County court is even saving a few pennies?

  9. 9
    Brenda

    Why is kicking puppies generally frowned upon but beating children met with approval or plain disinterest?

    Well, there’s nothing in Proverbs about sparing the boot and spoiling the puppy…

    People get very, very defensive about corporal punishment. “Well, I was spanked as a child and I turned out fine,” and so forth. Perhaps they resent the idea of themselves as victims. Perhaps they’re envious that today’s children should be treated better than they were.

  10. 10
    Carlie

    I wish I could say “but I bet it will all come to a stop when a child finally dies”, but of course that’s happened over and over again and it doesn’t even give them pause. The ones who killed the kids just weren’t doing it right, you see. They just went too far.

  11. 11
    Hillery Dooms

    Cool blog keep up the great effort, thanks for the info, I will pass your site on to my friends.

  12. 12
    Lyanna

    Brenda @ 9: indeed. People do get very defensive. They resent the idea of themselves as victims, and of their parents as in any way abusive.

    There are two responses to the “I was spanked and I was fine!” cohort, one slightly snarky and one more serious.

    The serious response is that healing does not justify inflicting pain. You don’t get to harm people because you think they’ll heal in the future. If you break your child’s arm, that will also heal, and they will be “fine” twenty years from now…but it is still abuse.

    The snarky response is, “You’re obviously not fine. You’re justifying beating up on someone a lot smaller than you, and are therefore clearly a sick person.”

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