Three children have now died as a result of unsparing use of the rod by parents who, it so happens, kept Pearl's book in their home. The preacher naturally says they went too far. But that is the problem with physical punishment. There's no science to calibrating use of hand, board, whip, belt or whatever instrument of abuse is employed. Couple it with a parent's anger and results can be ugly.
The pastoral mood in the hills of Tennessee offered a stark contrast to the storm raging around the country over the Pearls’ teachings on child discipline, which advocate systematic use of “the rod” to teach toddlers to submit to authority. The methods, seen as common sense by some grateful parents and as horrific by others, are modeled, Mr. Pearl is fond of saying, on “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules.”