At Home School Legal Defense Association, we believe parents know and love their children best and should be able to homeschool free from unreasonable restrictions.
This concept was affirmed by academics at the June 3 Harvard homeschooling session: “Is child abuse greater at school or homeschool?”
Citing the results of a new study, a panelist concluded that homeschooling does not increase the risk of harm to children.
Angela Dills, a professor at Western Carolina University, summarized her research as part of a discussion on student abuse at the hands of adults in various educational settings.
For her study, Dills looked at statistics involving two age groups on the violent deaths of children in the United States. This included children who died due to maltreatment and neglect.
She tracked these statistics from the 1990s to the early 2000s to see if there was any change correlating to reforms in state laws making it easier to homeschool—which in turn prompted a significant increase in the number of families who homeschooled.
“Overall the picture is one of little to no effect of homeschool rights on child safety,” she concluded.
Focus on Freedom
Dills and panelist Charol Shakeshaft, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor who is known primarily for her research on the sexual abuse of public school students, said the new study refutes critics who claim homeschooling puts children at greater risk. They added that, in their view, new restrictions on homeschooling are simply unwarranted.
We wholeheartedly agree. And we’re glad to see new research supporting our contention that homeschooling is not only a safe and effective way to educate children, but that it also helps build strong families and communities.
Shakeshaft brought this fact to mind last week when she spoke of her research suggesting that 9 percent of students in public schools are abused by adults connected to these institutions—teachers, coaches, counselors, and others.
Child safety is much more than a mere regulatory issue. Building a society that generally promotes children’s wellbeing and keeps them safe from harm requires insight into the causes and circumstances of child abuse as well as better approaches to remedying it. Shakeshaft called for more research into how this can apply to public school and homeschool children.
We support the desire to produce more empirical data on homeschooling—we believe it will give lawmakers confidence to keep empowering parents. The surge in the number of homeschooling families during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has shown the value of allowing parents to craft customized learning environments for their children.
Meanwhile, HSLDA will continue efforts to educate parents, co-op leaders, and anyone else who works with homeschooled students on ways to keep children safe. And more than that—to help them thrive.