Uh-oh, are the Duggars abusing their "19 Kids and Counting?" That's what critics read in an odd Facebook post by the Reality TV family. A photo showed toddlers of Jessa Seewald and Josh Duggar being "harshly punished." Does the "Counting On" family follow the controversial beating and spanking methods of Michael Pearl? Are they using dangerous punitive measures "To Train Up a Child?" or are Duggar critics pot-stirring a tempest in a teapot?

Spurgeon Seewald, Meredith Duggar sentenced to hard labor?

The offending image was posted on the Duggar Facebook page (probably by Michelle Duggar who it's assumed handles social media). It showed Josh and Anna Duggar's youngest child Meredith and Jessa and Ben Seewald's oldest child Spurgeon hard at work mopping the floor. Michelle or maybe Jim Bob Duggar tagged it "Train them young", referencing the Bible injunction to "train a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it." It translates to "teach them early" but sounded to some like "whip them into shape."

Folks read abuse in Duggar Facebook photo

The Duggar photo had nothing to do with spanking and certainly not with beating children.

In fact, it really had nothing to do with punishment or even discipline, as such. It was just the "19 Kids and Counting" parents delighting at their precious grandkids hard at work and loving it. As a homeschooling family, the Duggars know how to make chores into schooling. The reality television grandparents were glad--as any parent or grandparent would be--to see kids learning young to help. And the tasks were very Montessori, following the child and making work into play.

"Training up children" conjures up abuse speculations

Swiffering a tile floor is hardly breaking rocks on a chain gang. Even if it were, little curly-top Meredith and Mr. Spurgeon, with his adorable dangling sippy cup, probably would still love it. The caption indicated that a good time was had by all and they're obviously happily playing. But in some ears, the training part echoed Michael Pearl's advice in "To Train Up a Child." The fundamentalist Christian dad advocated spanking babies, beating little ones with a plastic hose, depriving them of food, and waterboarding them by spraying water in their faces.

"To Train Up a Child" deaths still raw

Michael Pearl's 1995 book is hauntingly linked to several religious beating deaths. Sean Paddock died in 2006, Lydia Schatz in 2010 and Hana Grace-Rose Williams in 2011. All children were adopted and beaten to death by their parents as part of spiritual instruction. In each homicide, parents reportedly had read "To Train Up a Child." In 2015, Lucas Leonard was beaten to death at Word of Life church in similar circumstances.The author facetiously argued that beating wasn't abusive and said his words were meant to be used with moderation. But a prosecutor called it a "dangerous, evil book."

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