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Responding to Calls for Increased Homeschool Regulation: Some Things to Consider

Last Updated: May 2, 2019

From time to time, stories about child abuse give rise to calls for increased regulation of homeschooling. Here is some information that may be helpful if you find yourself discussing the issue of homeschool regulation with a friend, neighbor, journalist, or elected representative:

1. Child Abuse Is Wrong and Our Hearts Go Out to Abuse Victims

  • We never want to forget that these discussions often stem from cases of children who have been horribly abused. Expressing condemnation of child abuse and concern/compassion for victims is the most important place to start.

2. Let’s Be Measured; Don’t Let Reckless Solutions Create More Injustice

  • The circumstances of these stories stir up strong emotions in us all—everyone wants to be able to do something to keep abuse from happening again.
  • However, strong emotions can lead to hasty conclusions unsupported by the facts or reason. Acting on such conclusions can unintentionally violate the law and the rights of good, responsible, innocent people—and traumatize safe, healthy children.
  • We need to stop and make sure that our response is measured, because hasty over-generalizations can end up hurting innocent people.

3. Parents Should Not Be Singled Out for Extra Scrutiny Just Because They Homeschool

  • Regulations that violate the privacy and freedom of homeschooling families are unjust. The rights of all families, no matter what type of education they provide their children, should be equally respected.
  • The principle that individuals are innocent until proven guilty has always been at the heart of the American tradition of liberty. It makes no sense to assume that someone who makes a lawful choice—in this case, to homeschool—is untrustworthy. Acting on such unlawful criteria is classic discrimination and essentially treats all homeschooling parents as criminals.
  • The Supreme Court has reaffirmed many times the constitutional principles underlying parenthood, family life, educational choices, and the sanctity of the home. The high court said in 1979 (Parham v. J.R.):

    That some parents “may at times be acting against the interests of their children” . . . creates a basis for caution, but it is hardly a reason to discard wholesale those pages of human experience that teach that parents generally do act in the child’s best interest. . . . The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.

4. New Regulations Won’t Prevent Abuse; Better Enforcement of Current Laws Will

  • Child abuse happens in every setting imaginable: in churches, locker rooms, doctor’s offices, homes, and even public schools. In many of these settings, layers of regulation already exist—yet child abuse continues to occur, escaping detection and prosecution. Criminals aren’t deterred by regulations and will find ways to hide their crimes.
  • Preventing every possible instance of child abuse is impossible, but we can reduce child abuse more effectively with fair laws and better enforcement. Piling invasive regulations onto individual families is not the solution.
    • Note: It may be tempting to cite news reports of abuse in public school settings, but that actually veers away from the main argument. Just because abuse happens in public schools doesn’t mean that abuse in homeschool settings doesn’t matter.

5. Conclusion

  • Homeschooling parents around the country have demonstrated a high degree of success in raising and nurturing their children—giving them the tools to grow and flourish.
  • Sharing your own real-life experiences as a homeschooling parent or graduate can help people connect with the effectiveness of homeschooling as an educational option—include anecdotes that demonstrate how homeschooling has equipped and empowered your child (or you) to grow and flourish.
  • If you are writing to your representative, you can use some of the points outlined above to explain why additional regulation would violate the rights of the homeschooling families in his or her district.

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