For obvious reasons, the Duggar family has been under a tremendous amount of scrutiny in recent months.
Ever since Josh Duggar was arrested on child pornography charges in April of last year, there’s been a great deal of discussion surrounding the culture of abuse that enabled him to get away with so much for so long.
Prior to Josh’s conviction last month, his trial shed new light on the bizarre, cult-like environment in which he was raised.
Josh is obviously 100 percent responsible for the unspeakable acts he committed, but the public was left with a renewed curiosity about the parents who allowed such crimes to take place under their roof.
Interestingly, Josh seems to have been closely supervised growing up.
His parents knew what sort of abuse he was inflicting upon his sisters; they simply chose to do nothing about it until they were forced by social pressure to report him to the police.
The police, of course, let Josh off with a stern warning.
All of this likely came as a surprise to longtime Duggar fans who knew Jim Bob and Michelle as militantly strict parents.
The Duggar dress code, the family courtship rules, and the family’s far-right fundamentalist worldview were all familiar to viewers who knew the Duggars from their TLC reality shows.
And throughout the Duggars’ time in the spotlight, there were questions regarding the extent to which Jim Bob and Michelle used corporal punishment in order to discipline their children.
Strategies such as "blanket training" — in which very young children are struck with a rod if they move from the blanket they’re seated on — were both common and encouraged in th Duggars’ community.
Michelle and Jim Bob refused to comment on the question of whether or not they struck their children with blunt objects, but as YouTuber Katie Joy points out, the children themselves revealed the truth in interviews that took place shortly after the family found fame.
"The girls defended Michelle using a rod on them by saying that the “correction” wasn’t that bad, but the talking was the worst part," Joy wrote on her Instagram page this week.
"Joy admits to needing to be ‘lovingly corrected’ frequently for self control issues," she continued.
"Michelle & Jim Bob refuse to publicly state they hit their children. Instead they use code words like “loving correction,” to likely not alarm the masses.
"For years, many assumed a correction was verbal. However, that’s not the case in the Duggar home."
Joy went on to detail the nature of the weapon that the Duggars used against their kids;
"We’ve been told the Duggars used a wooden rod on their children. One source told us that the Duggars allegedly placed the rod on the dashboard in the car when they travelled," she wrote.
"It’s a twisted way for the parent to justify the abuse by calling it a ‘loving correction’ and say ‘well I wasn’t angry, so it wasn’t abuse.’”
And sadly, Joy reports that this barbaric practice continues in the homes of the Jim Bob and Michelle’s eldest children.
"I have heard from multiple sources that numerous adult children practice corporal punishment in their homes," she wrote.
"Jessa has defended ‘trainin” in the past."
As with so many of the Duggars more bizarre and appalling behaviors, it seems there’s a biblical justification to the practice of blanket training.
And this use of scripture to justify cruelty originated from none other than Jim Bob’s spiritual guru, Institute for Basic Life Principles founder Bill Gothard.
"They are unlikely to change because Gothard had taught them that people of the world will never understand their reasons for doing anything," Joy wrote this week.
"He will say that calling correction child abuse is just a worldly perspective. Then he will fall back and say ‘the scripture mandates this discipline.’”
Joy cites this is a classic example of the methods used by cult leaders in order to manipulate their followers.
"This technique makes members feel as though they know something others don’t, and then they don’t trust any expert opinions outside the cult," she wrote.
Joy concluded her report by noting that it looks as thought "the cycle of abuse" will continue with the next generation of Duggars.
The story of this family seems to become more tragic every day.