Friday, December 16, 2011

Do You Call This Parenting Advice?

This is a guest post by Alec Duncan, who has worked in the Early Childhood Education field since 1988.
When Greg suggested I should write a guest blog post for Males in Early Childhood my original intention was to tell about my career as a male in the early childhood education field.  How I first began as a volunteer at a child care centre in 1988, then worked as an unqualified educator while studying for a degree in Children Studies.  How my work as a qualified early educator coupled with my interest in making musical instruments from recycled materials led me to running hands-on play-based music programs in schools and child care centres.

It was going to be light-hearted.  It was going to be about the enormous satisfaction I’ve gained from my work with the children I’ve cared for and educated.  It was going to be about sharing the joy of music with very young children through my micro-business, Child’s Play Music.
This is not that post.
This post is dark and disturbing. It makes depressing reading; it will make you angry; it may make you weep.  But please read it if you care about every child and want to protect them from criminal physical abuse masquerading as “discipline” and “parenting advice”.
 A while ago I stumbled upon an online petition  I read the petition with mounting horror and disgust.  Here was Amazon, a reputable company with whom I have spent thousands of dollars, selling books that advise parents to whip infants as young as 4 months old with implements like willow switches, rulers and whipper snipper cord.  For slightly older infants and toddlers they recommend paddles, belts, “the rod”, flexible plumber’s conduit and tree branches.
For what heinous crimes?  For resisting a nappy change.  For crying.  For refusing to sleep.  For anything except instant and unquestioning obedience to a parent’s demands, no matter how unreasonable those demands might be.


At first I simply did not believe that this was possible.  Surely no one would get such books published, let alone sold!  But as I followed the links to quotes from the books I discovered it was true; worse still they are big sellers.  One, “To Train Up A Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl has sold over 670,000 copies; the death of 3 children has already been linked to it.  And at that point I realised I needed to do something about it, something more than just signing the petition.  I’ve spent much of my life caring for and educating infants and children; if not me, then who?
Make no mistake: what these books advise is child abuse, abuse that in Australia would result in criminal charges.  I’m not ashamed to say that when I read the quotes from them I wept.  I signed the petition, posted about it on my Facebook Page, emailed Amazon to tell them I would buy nothing from them until they stop selling these books, and then contacted the author of the petition, Milli, who blogs as TheMule.

I asked Milli how I could help her in this cause.  She said she was snowed under with the issue: could I research who else was selling the books, who wasn’t, and contact the companies who don’t sell them for a statement.  I accepted immediately.  To my further horror I discovered that practically every major chain of booksellers in the US sells some or all of the books.  I could find only three major US chains who weren’t selling them; Deseret Book, Seagull Book, and Follett’s.  We have contacted these 3 chains asking for a statement saying why they don’t sell the books and ask them for a statement of support for our cause.

And the books are available in Australia too!  Both Angus & Robertson and Collins Booksellers sell some or all of them.  Milli and I are extending her campaign to the other sellers of these reprehensible books, and we are seeking statements of support from academics and child development experts for a major press release.  So far a large number of prominent experts have signed; the number grows daily.  Support has also come from influential child protection organisations, including the Child Rights International Network.

We ask that you join us

What can you do?  Sign the petition – over 9,000 people have signed; every signature helps.  Email Amazon and other sellers saying you will not buy from them until these books are removed from sale.  Email your politicians demanding that action be taken to stop their sale.  Spread the word to your friends and colleagues.  Share the petition on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.  Write letters to the editor.  Help Milli and me in our work.  Everything you do for this cause helps protect children from criminal child abuse.
I won’t post quotes from the books here; they are too distressing.  If you want to read them there are extensive quotes available on the net.  Quotes from “To Train Up A Child” can be found here.  They are sickening.  Diligent Googling will find similar quotes from the other books; I will leave that exercise to you.
I can be contacted at  Milli can be contacted at

A Little About Alec

Alec is a qualified early childhood educator with a Bachelor of Social Science (Children Studies) who worked in long day care until 1998.

He then started Child’s Play Music which provides hands-on, play-based music education incursions to schools and child care centres in Perth Western Australia. These programs enable young children to freely explore a huge range of homemade instruments through play.

More information can be found at the Child’s Play Music Facebook page and videos of his instruments and instrument making tutorials can be found at


  1. Thank you Alex for alerting me to this! I am horrified, sickened to my core and so angry about it! I will post this to my FB page to help create a wider awareness. This book (and others apparently) is just pure evil!

  2. Petition signed. You may also be aware of
    Unfortunately no petition for this one.

  3. Thank you Karen - I really appreciate the help that you and so many FB people are doing to get this issue more public attention.

    @Tess - thanks for that link, I had heard vaguely about the Wolf Daddy but I didn't know anything about the details. Sickening.

  4. There was a segment on Anderson Cooper with the authour of this book and families who use it and parents who lost their children due to the use of this book. The whole show made me cry! This guy is cult like very scary! I will share this link!

  5. I've signed the petition and shared on my wall! This is just so wrong! Thanks for getting the word out there--maybe Amazon will sit up and take notice!

  6. Wow. I am sick to my stomach. Thank you for sharing.