Homeschooling and Child Abuse: No Connection

Recent news stories have highlighted several isolated cases of child abuse and presented them as indicative of problems in the homeschooling community, because they happened within families who claimed to be educating their children at home. Some of these reports have suggested that Federal or state regulations requiring background checks and monitoring of homeschooling families would minimize such cases of child abuse.

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers acknowledges that in our society there are people who neglect, abuse or isolate their children. These people exist in all walks of life, and their children are educated in public, private, and home instructed environments. Fortunately for our society, these people are the minority. Neglectful or abusive parenting is not a homeschooling issue. It is not unique to the homeschooling community, and statistically is not more significant in the homeschooling population.

Child abuse is a societal issue. Examples of abuse exist in all educational settings. There is no method of education that guarantees child abuse won’t happen, or that it will be detected if it does happen.

There is no justification for intrusive regulation of the homeschooling community. There is no conceivable change in Virginia’s homeschooling-related statutes that would eliminate child abuse. Background checks of homeschooling parents would be no more preventive than those conducted on the public school teachers, priests, and others who have been convicted of abusing children.

Some have suggested that more stringent regulations would eliminate child abuse in the homeschooling community. However, as a societal problem, child abuse will require a societal solution, not just a legal one. For instance, when tackling the problem of domestic violence, communities don’t assume that all women are victims and all men are abusers. The most effective community programs have addressed domestic violence as a societal problem, rather than strictly a legal one, through education, awareness, shelters, outreach enforcement of existing laws, and stiffer sentencing.

VaHomeschoolers Asserts That:

Child abuse is a societal problem, not unique to or limited to the homeschooling community.

  • Most of the highly publicized cases of child abuse have involved families who were already known to social services for truancy or abuse, and who were already in violation of existing laws set up to protect children.
  • Many of the highly publicized cases of child abuse have involved families who were in violation of the compulsory attendance laws in their state. Even though the families may have claimed that they were homeschooling, they were not complying with the homeschooling or school attendance laws in their county.
  • Representatives of Virginia Child Protective Services (CPS) acknowledge that homeschoolers are not a target population of CPS investigations. See VaHomeschoolers’ article, Answering the CPS Questions.

VaHomeschoolers is happy to discuss these and any other homeschooling-related issues with any interested parties. If you are a journalist writing a story on homeschooling, and are looking for a new angle, see the VaHomeschoolers Media page. To contact us about this or any other homeschooling issue, email VaHomeschoolers.

For more ideas about how homeschoolers live, read one or more of the books below:

  • Homeschoolers’ Success Stories: 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives – by Linda Dobson

    Wonderfully inspiring, “Success Stories” shows how grown up and nearly grown homeschoolers (plus some younger ones) have made their own paths in the world. It gives readers broad views of the remarkable life and job opportunities created by a personalized education.

  • Real-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home – by Rhonda Barfield

    Each family profiled describes how they came to homeschooling, what a typical day is like, what challenges they have overcome, where they find inspiration, how they deal with burnout. One family homeschools on an island in the Pacific; another lives and learns in Alaska. Families who emphasize scholastic achievement are represented, as well as those who concentrate on religious training, the arts, or a family trade, or who must accommodate a child’s or parent’s special needs.

    This book provides more than enough contrasting situations to open the reader’s eyes to the possibilities of homeschooling, while highlighting the dedication to parenting and engagement with real life that homeschoolers share.

    From Elizabeth McCulloughs “Temporary Sanity” site. Posted with permission.

  • Fifteen Homeschoolers Out in the Real World – by Tamra B. Orr

    The young men and women profiled here differ in their backgrounds and goals, but share a maturity and self-confidence that could hardly be matched by adults twice their age. Some are in college and doing well. One young woman tried college but now declares, “I picked becoming an adult over getting a higher education.” She is now a buyer for a large bookstore. Michael, 20, is not only an Eagle Scout and a talented musician, but also was the youngest student ever admitted to the highly competitive Culinary Arts Institute — despite dyslexia. Courtney, 21, owns her own organic food co-op.

    Orr’s subjects challenge several common assumptions about homeschooling. Far from feeling smothered or isolated, they say that homeschooling sheltered them from harm during their early years while giving them a chance to spread their wings as teens. As adults, these young people are not afraid to take exciting personal risks and reach for the highest goals. In the words of the author’s daughter, “I feel like I’ve gotten three lifetimes’ experience in the time it took everyone else to make it to high school.”

    From Elizabeth McCulloughs “Temporary Sanity” site. Posted with permission.


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