Having read articles about people who did read the book and acted like fools when it comes to dealing with their children I can make a logical conclusion. The parents are plumb dumb.
You don’t starve your kid.
You don’t beat your kid with a cat o’ nine tales
you don’t wrap your kid with a blanket so hard that he/she can’t breathe.
I don’t care what some book says to do that is not normal. A cat o’ nine tales? Honestly sounds like something from a porno movie.
I think we can agree the parents were sorely ignorant in the treatment of their children. And I wouldn’t rule out the influential potential of the book. It’s a different matter, however, to state the book was definitively the catalyst for the unfortunate, tragic outcomes that befell the families.