If you're working on a story about a cult, you're probably already familiar with this site:

http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/

But if you're not, it's got a wealth of information about how Peoples Temple used fear and paranoia to manipulate members, including children.

As for your specific question, here's something I was reading earlier tonight:

"Debbie Blakey, a former member, told of a method of disciplining children in Jonestown.

"Little children are scared by this thing called 'Bigfoot,' What they do if a child has done anything that most children do, and it is considered very bad... they are sent out to see 'Bigfoot.'

"They are taken into the forest, down by Jones' cabin to a well," she said. "Two people would already be in the well swimming, it's dark and you can't see. The child is thrown in there... and the people that are in there will be grabbing the child's feet or pulling him down, making sure that he comes up for a breath.

"You can hear the child screaming all the way there and... back, I'm sorry father, I'm sorry father...' [everyone in Jonestown called Jim Jones "father" or "dad"]

"If he doesn't scream loud enough how sorry he is, Jim threatens that he'll send the child back down," she added.

The Associated Press November 19, 1978, AM Cycle
Hope this helps.

take care,

---Jones() (no relation, btw)