That Christian Man Selling Child-Training Whips Is Back

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Pimthida.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on May 18, 2016.

The above image is an advertisement that used to run in Christian homeschool magazines. “The ideal tool for child training,” reads the test below an image of a long, thin shaft with a handle, a rod intended for whipping children. “The means prescribed by God,” it reads. And there’s a poem: “Spoons are for cooking / Belts are for holding up pants / Hands are for loving / RODS are for chastening.” This “flexible nylon rod” with its “cushioned vinyl grip” was marketed by Steve Haymond, and was primarily purchased by Christian homeschooling families.

By 2006, the internet and the activism of several concerned homeschool parents had taken its toll on Haymond’s whip-selling business. Raymond had advertised his whips in Christian homeschooling magazines for years (see the image above), and had also begun advertising on the internet. But as the public caught wind of Haymond’s business, things went south. Under mounting pressure, Haymond shut the business down. In the years since, his rods have been used in several high-profile child abuse cases, and young adults who were beaten with his rods have spoken out. But today, Haymond is back—and he doesn’t want you to know.

A guest on podcaster Phil Ferguson‘s show recently provided him with a letter from Haymond announcing that he was starting his business back up, with newly designed rods, but asking that that information not be shared with the internet. Ferguson promptly posted the letter to Facebook. “Let’s show him how the internet works,” Ferguson wrote on his posting. “Please share.”

Here is a transcription of the letter:

April 7, 2016

Dear friends,

I am contacting you as a former customer of Child Training Resources. As you may know, we stopped selling our chastening instruments and closed our business in 2006 due to external pressures and family reasons. Since that time and after 10 years of periodic request sand inquiries, we have decided to again making these chastening instruments available — but only on a private basis and without a web site or ANY internet exposure.

To jog your memory or for those of you unfamiliar with our instrument, the blue spanker is 9” long, 1.5” wide and 3/16” thick. Made of virtually indestructible polyurethane, it is extremely flexible and quite portable (easily fits in a purse, back pocket or diaper bag).

[price, shipping, and payment instructions]

One more I’m,portent thing. Feel free to let other Biblically-minded parents know about this chastening instrument, but do not post anything about it on the internet and please exercise discretion as to who you tell about them. Although proper chastisement is legal, there are some (even among family members) who mistakenly believe that spanking of any kind constitutes child abuse. Our willingness and ability to make these instruments available to parents who believe in Biblical chastisement depends both on their responsible use by us as parents (see our tips) and care in who we tell about them. Thank you for your sensitivity on this.

[closing and signature]

There’s a sort of perverse pleasure to seeing people who think they can keep the ethically sketchy things they’re doing off the internet find out it doesn’t work like that. But you know what? This story has to be about more than that. It has to be about more than laughing at Haymond, and sharing the story on your Facebook with something about how stupid people like him are to think they can hide things from the internet. It has to be more, because I was that child. 

I was a child when putting advertisements for whips in Christian homeschool magazines was a thing. My own homeschool mother used a wooden paddle, and liberally. The homeschool child rearing guru she followed advised using quarter inch plumbing supply line. At one point someone convinced my mother that she should spank us with rods we cut from the trees outside; she soon found that this approach drew blood, however, and returned to her ever-handy paddle. It may be hard to fathom, for some, but the debate over what implement should be used for beating one’s children into obedience was quite active in the Christian homeschool community of my youth. But it wasn’t just a debate—it was a business.

Haymond was never the only person selling whipping rods. As I remember it, you could walk into just about any Christian homeschool convention in the country and purchase implements for beating your children. I’m not sure whether this is still true, ten years after I left home for college, but I did go to a Christian homeschool convention several years ago, and guess who was there? One of Michael and Debi Pearl’s children, selling his child abuse manual. And yes, I think I can call it that—it’s all right there in his book, down to breaking children and beating them into complete and total submission, and much more.

The books, the implements, the conferences, the workshops. An entire industry has been built around helping parents beat their children into submission, and while Haymond may have shut his business down for a decade, Michael Pearl never did—and nor did many, many, many others. Some children have died, and many others have come of age haunted by a childhood spent in fear of an implement, of a hand, of a moment, the complete and immediate obedience whipped into them during childhood forever warping their adult interactions with their parents—if they decide to continue those interactions at all.

This story isn’t a funny read, or a punchline. It’s a travesty.

23 comments

  • As I mentioned in my post we weren’t part of any homeschooling community and I don’t remember debates over which instruments to use. When I was younger my mom used a leather belt then switched to a PVC pipe with duct tape on the end. Some of my friends got spanked with a rubber carpet strap(fairly frequently).

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I remember growing up in the Sixties, when “Whuppin” was still a generally-accepted form of child discipline from parents who had survived the Great Depression (and had locked into Survival mode). Belts (and similar improvised weapons) were in common use.

      But…
      THIS IS A PURPOSE-BUILT WEAPON, NOT AN IMPROVISED ONE.
      SPECIFICALLY-DESIGNED, PURPOSE-BUILT.
      THAT’S WHAT REALLY MAKES IT GRIMDARK.

  • People are abused. They grow up in circumstances that have to be seen to be believed because the utter depravity of believers is beyond belief. I mean that literally. People are harmed in their lives through misfortune and mistreatment and if they do not manage to get the help needed to develop personal insight and find the strangth to stop that harm in their lives, they pass it on, often in quite extreme fashion: Pearl harm, let’s say. Steve Haymond is outed as an abuser who is takes pride in his sick little cottage industry producing weapons for abusers of babies and children/adolescents.
    My mom used to chase us with various tools of correction. It was supported by scripture and she used to get fed up with us. It does bring comfort to a believer to have the Word saying, Go get ’em! Teach them a lesson!
    The Old Testament God Mum would reign down hellfire blows and we would burn.

  • Steve Haymond and his Southern-fried methods of child abuse have GOT to go ! He’s in Oklahoma, right ? This guy needs to be investigated and go to jail.

  • Reblogged this on House of Water and commented:
    When I was a pre or early teen, a traveling home school family, with a traveling home school family business of “rods” made a stop in the area. The homeschooler moms in our area had, like, a tupperware party of thing to beat your kids with. Many of them brought their kids along to the presentation- including my mom.

    The mother of the family described how she would go quietly through the house and watching to see if the children were performing well enough. If they weren’t, she would surprise them with a sharp little snap on the legs or buttocks.

    In retrospect- holy fucking christ! Are you kidding me? Forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a perfect recipe for Complex PTSD?

    The beating-ware party was decorated in the horrible overly floral pseudo-Victorian style that I remember seeing a lot in the homeschooling version of the ’90’s. The man of the family was clean cut and slimy. He didn’t say as much but he handled the money. The woman gushed about her product. Her ten or twelve children didn’t talk much unless the script or social niceties required them too. They stood in the back ground with wide, matching smiles, brought out their instruments and played music when they were required to. Hung back and smiled again.

    I remember hanging out in the entry room of the house with some of the local group children. One of the boys told the rest of us quietly that he would run away from home if his mom started doing this.

    There were strawberries dipped in chocolate on silver trays. The moms were all talking and laughing. And giggling.

    • the amount of awful in what you described… and the juxtaposition of chocolate strawberries and laughter… i am speechless.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        THAT is a much better example of “total depravity” than a dozen screaming sermons about “vipers in diapers”.

  • This is disgusting Absolutely disgusting. Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: if you use one of these Weapons (because that’s what they are) to “chasten” your child, then you are guilty of child abuse, and assault, period. You are a criminal. And you should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And if that means your children are removed from your custody, then so be it. Your children deserve better.

    I happen to have some friends who are active in the local BDSM scene. They might be very, very interested in purchasing some of these rods to use in their activities. I wonder how Mr. Haymond (and others who sell such weapons) would feel if a bunch of BDSM enthusiasts started ordering their products, and sending him enthusiastic fan letters (complete with explicit photographs) about how much they enjoy his product? Or how would Mr. Hammond and his fellow child abuse enablers feel if a bunch of BDSM practitioners, decked out in full fetish gear, stopped by their booths to buy a few rods at the next homeschooling conference they attend? For that matter, wonder if anyone has done studies on how many adult BDSM practioners had parents who beat them with weapons as children? (I know at least one of my BDSM-practicing friends directly attributes his interest in kinky sex to the near-daily beatings with a belt he received from his parents when he was a child. )

    Hammond is a child abuse enthusiast. He deserves nothing but scorn and derision (and, in a just world, time in a prison cell.)

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      ONLY nine inches (23cm) long?

      Judging from the proportional length of grip in the pic, I would have estimated a “blade length” of 12-18″ (30-45cm). A one-hand grip is usually around 4-5″ (10-12cm) length. I know this because I know a custom knife-maker who does reproduction daggers & swords, and “The Rod” has the same proportion of grip-to-blade as a dirk or a long rondel dagger.

      It also reminds me in length, proportion, and material of a small fast baton that used to be sold from ads in the backs of gun magazines as a flat-out self-defense weapon. WEAPON.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      I wonder how Mr. Haymond (and others who sell such weapons) would feel if a bunch of BDSM enthusiasts started ordering their products, and sending him enthusiastic fan letters (complete with explicit photographs) about how much they enjoy his product? Or how would Mr. Hammond and his fellow child abuse enablers feel if a bunch of BDSM practitioners, decked out in full fetish gear, stopped by their booths to buy a few rods at the next homeschooling conference they attend?

      I sense an opportunity for a “negative publicity stunt” in the above….

    • I like Headless Unicorn Guy’s suggestion in the post above. It would certainly be very entertaining to watch on youtube.

      Do you think you could make it happen, HUG?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Naah. I don’t run in those circles.

        However, if anyone wants to try a “Let Bubba Do It”…

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Nylon rod” just like a shorter length of fishing pole.

    I know someone who survived serious physical child abuse. Thanks to “nylon rod” fishing poles, his back is still scar tissue.

    • This guy Haymond is definitely trying to fly under the radar-he was in Bakersfield, but now he’s in Montana. Columbia Falls and Kalispell, to be specific…no question he thought he could get away with more, in a conservative state like this one. If this bothers you that he’s up to the usual child-hating B.S., then here is the DA contacts in Flathead County MT where he and wife Melanie are :Phone(:406)758-5630/Fax :(406)-758-5642. Mail Address : 920 S .Main Street, # 201, Kalispell, MT. 59901. It sounds like they have a trust, R&B Family Trust, perhaps they use this to finance the Rod venture, who knows. I won’t put their addresses on here, tempting though it is. Let the DPSS and other authorities go after them, please don’t take it up yourselves.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        In his book on The Unabomber, retired FBI profiler John “MIndhunter” Douglas remarks that Montana is the place to go if you’re asocial, antisocial, or just want to get away from other people. Hence the prevalence of Crazy Hermit types and White Supremacist Redoubts in that state with lotsa uninhabited land and Russian Arctic winters.

        That and the Canadian border isn’t that far off if things get too hot for you in the States.

  • Yuck!! How anyone can tie Jesus into doing this stuff to kids is beyond belief. I can see how revolting the images of gleeful, conservative mothers, and choc-dipped strawberries are…and no one in that group saw the insanity of this-but for the children. To have one’s own mother prowling around corners in a house, and then hit you with that thing in the article here-ugh !! Even MORE twisted, the kids lined up and smiling those tight “church” smiles, or else. Standing against a wall, waiting to be told to play music, play it, then hang around for hours more ? Where are these kids now ? No doubt they have their own books to write one day, about what they were subjected to…..it would take a lot of courage to expose such things.

  • Admin Note: Some comments in this thread have been deleted for being dismissive towards abuse. For more information about our comment policy, please see:

    https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/forum/

  • Are there people actually reading about the sorry situations described here, and condoning them/or and dismissing abuse as somehow OK ?? I’d like to know who these people are. The stuff going on regarding these TRUNCHEONS for sale is describing criminal acts and intent. How can it be called any less ?

  • When I homeschooled my girls I hid out because I hated even being associated with these kinds of people. I refused to attend any of the conventions or local support groups. It still disgusts me that homeschooling is associated with this stuff. Christians who wanted to teach their kids about Jesus treated them in despicable ways. Homeschooling made me and my children outsiders and though they both say they got the best education ever, I don’t know whether I would choose to do it again.

  • I dropped out of a home schooling co-op because the other parents insisted that the teacher be allowed to spank the kids. And spanking to them meant a naked whipping with a leather strap. Some of these folks are just crazy.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Over a month ago, I was on the East Coast visiting my writing partners. One of them is a burned-out country preacher who homeschooled his three sons. I showed him this posting, and how these “rods” were being sold at Homeschooler’s Conferences. His reaction:

    “If I’d run across these at a Homeschool Conference, you would have read about me in the papers. Because I would have taken one from the guy and beat him bloody with his own rod. The cops would have had to drag me off him.”

    (He online-counsels fans of a particular sub-genre of fantasy fandom and has told me most every one of them came from an abusive background. He has had to pick up the pieces of abuse.)

  • Pingback: Survivor Of Homeschool Abuse Shares 5 Little Known Facts That Are Hard To Stomach | Homeschool Base

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