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Restricting Homeschool Families the Wrong Response to Tragedy

by Mike Donnelly • January 9, 2019

An article written by Fox 31 Denver’s investigative reporter Rob Low about the tragic death of 7-year-old Caden McWilliams demonstrates why it is imperative that the homeschool community be prepared to defend itself against false connections between homeschooling and child abuse.

Low’s article was the first to link homeschooling to the death of the 7-year-old boy, whose remains were found in a storage trailer where they had been hidden for six months. Police allege that Caden was the victim of abuse.

The article focuses on this suspected abuse, calling Caden the “poster child” for why homeschool regulations need to be increased and quoting influential individuals who support this opinion.

You can read the article here.

Caden’s death is a tragedy, and Home School Legal Defense Association condemns the crime of child abuse. However, we feel blaming homeschooling or how homeschooling is regulated as a contributing cause of Caden’s death—or even the coverup of his death—is misleading and irresponsible. Misdirected blame leads to ineffective solutions.

Focus on the Facts

Rather than rushing to report links to homeschooling and calling for more homeschool regulation as a way to prevent child abuse fatalities, HSLDA encourages officials to use a data-driven and fact-based approach to making policy that would do what everyone wants: protect children from abuse.

The federal government’s two-year, blue-ribbon commission on child fatalities (CECANF) report is a good place to start. Nowhere does the report recommend more regulation based on a child’s educational environment. Rather, it suggests targeted measures that would better align resources with at-risk children.

The reality is that child protective services agencies are under-resourced because they are chasing too many extraneous allegations of neglect that do not rise to the level of maltreatment. Statistics show that nearly two-thirds of all reports of abuse or neglect that are investigated are determined to be unfounded.

Improving Policies

We also recommend using common sense when it comes to crafting public policy. It is not common sense to impose intrusive laws on tens of thousands of families because one person commits a bad act.

Child abuse is a tragic reality, and it is appropriate for government to pass laws that protect children who are at risk. There are good policy changes that can help do this. Imposing more regulations on innocent families is not one of them.

As the new Colorado Legislature convenes, the homeschool community will need to be vigilant and prepared to take action should unreasonable legislation be introduced. HSLDA will continue to partner with CHEC’s legislative liaison Carolyn Martin in order to do this.

We encourage you to support our work by supporting CHEC and joining HSLDA.


Michael Donnelly

Senior Counsel, Director of Global Outreach

Mike is an attorney, writer, adjunct professor of government, and frequent media spokesperson on homeschooling, freedom, and parental rights. Read more.


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