You've got to face it.
If you wake up one morning and decide that you're going to sexually molest and/or abuse your school-age children, you probably don't want them going to school and chatting with their friends about what they did with Dad last night. You probably would plan to "homeschool" them so that officials don't get to see them every day. You could then implement all your sadistic plans with relative impunity.
So far, I'm with ya. So what's the solution?
Should we mandate that all homeschool families have a more scrutiny than the close-to-zero homeschool families currently enjoy in many states, including Missouri? We might be able to prevent a few cases of child abuse here and there. There ARE some truly awful cases of abuse by "parents" of all kinds. Jesus doesn't have many grace-filled words for these people but says that it woulda been better for them if someone tied a huge heavy "millstone" rock around their neck and drowned 'em. I guess that was an old-time Mafia cement shoes reference or something... sleeping with the fishes and all. Nowhere in Christianity, liberal or conservative politics, or anywhere else should there be ANY excuse for child torture, despite a few wacky books put out by people who were shaken too vigorously as infants. I think people of every stripe and polka-dot are together on this being an admirable goal.
Dana writes, "But [abuse] occurs even in the public schools, under the watchful eye of mandatory reporters. It happens in foster homes (case in point: the Paddocks) where a multitude of trained professionals have regular access to children. And death is most likely to occur with children younger than four. Below the compulsory education age. And while it may be easy for most Americans to wonder if perhaps there should be more oversight of homeschools “just in case” how many would begin to see why we generally object to this intrusion so vociferously if all homes containing children under the age of six were treated with the same suspicion? And if editorials calling on legislators to increase the state’s monitoring of parents became as prevalent as those suggesting increased monitoring of homeschools for the same reasons?" http://principleddiscovery.com/2008/07/02/north-carolina-department-of-non-public-instruction-to-follow-the-law
I'm especially concerned about any mandated checks on our family or any possibility of being forced to send our younger children to public schools. In my opinion, it was abuse when Elf was locked in the closet on several occasions at the local elementary. It was also abusive in my opinion NOT to give him his own aide when he clearly demonstrated a need for very intensive oversight due to his autism.
I would be panicked/concerned about not being up to snuff with the state's testing requirements or not meeting some sort of "annual yearly progress" goal like the public schools for the simple reason that my children don't test well. In fact, Elf actually made it as far as a busy intersection when he went to public school because hated the test and ran away! He was caught ONLY BECAUSE there was a young male principal at the time. No way the 68-year-old vice principal could catch him! Thank heaven for walkie-talkie radio or this blog might have had a very different tone...
In any event, I'm concerned that a few bad parents will be used as an example to force excessive requirements on the rest of us who really want to be left alone for all the RIGHT reasons. But how to allay the general public's fears of people using "homeschooling" as a shield for abuse, I have no clue.
HSLDA magazine offers some short quotes from various families as it chronicles the fallout of the recent case in California. Grace Andrus is encouraging families to be in touch with their representatives on this issue, as well as becoming homeschool ambassadors. "Be a good testimony. During the day, homeschool. Don't be out at the gym, or out to lunch, or shopping at the mall." Conversely Marcia Neill advises folks, "Don't be afraid that you're homeschooling. Do your best." (p. 36 May/June 08 issue)
Has the current swirl of "homeschool" cases made you want to stay indoors?
I put "homeschool" in quotation marks because perhaps now more than ever, the waters are muddied as to what would actually constitute a home school. Parents have figured out that if problems happen with public school, they can pull their kids and keep them home. That's great, if they actually plan on educating them themselves! There are other families who have been "pushed out" of the system, sometimes because of learning disabilities, truancy or other issues. These folks may not be successful (as a general whole) without a little support and help, but they're just the people that Miss So N. So is going to point to and relate with a sneer that "that homeschool family can't even read." There are also just general plain ol' nutballs who have figured out they can "homeschool" while they abuse their kids.
In fairness, there are a few nutballs out there working for public schools, too. Or "volunteering" in churches. Anywhere there are children, there *could* be abuse. It makes me sad to say, but aside from a few general background checks and the like, I don't think you can PREVENT abuse. Though I would be willing to agree that CONVICTED child sex offenders should not be allowed to homeschool without any oversight. It's a scary world out there.