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March / April 2005

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Let the facts speak

by J. Michael Smith

This response to the Akron Beacon Journal's seven-part series negatively portraying homeschooling was begun on the President's Page of the January/February 2005 Court Report.

On November 17, 2004, the Akron Beacon Journal tried to paint homeschooling as a dangerous hotbed of child abuse, which can only be defused by increased government regulation. Citing New Jersey's Jackson case, in which four adopted children of an allegedly homeschooling family were severely malnourished, the Beacon Journal failed to mention that the NJ Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) had visited the Jackson family an astounding 38 times. This tragedy resulted from a failure of DYFS, not of homeschooling.

According to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, 903,000 children in America were found to be victims of child maltreatment in 2001. Although we do not have statistics demonstrating how many of these abused children were educated at home, it's safe to assume that the overwhelming majority attended public school, since research shows that homeschoolers make up only 3–5 % of the total school population. Unfortunately, immersion in a highly regulated public school environment did not prevent child abuse.

Vox Day, a WorldNetDaily columnist, points out three problems with "the idea that public schooling will help prevent child abuse."1 First, 82.3% of child fatalities occur before the child even reaches school age.

Second, the Child Maltreatment Report of 2002 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that, out of 88,656 cases of confirmed sexual abuse, teachers and day-care providers were responsible for 15,098—almost as many cases as those for which parents were responsible (16,210). How will government oversight of homeschool families prevent child abuse?

Third, teachers don't necessarily make "for very reliable reporters. Education personnel were the single most likely group to make unsubstantiated claims of child abuse."

But the real question underneath it all is this: To whom does a child belong? The child either belongs to the state or to the parents. There is no middle ground. [Consider] the long, lethal history of the relationship between governments and children dating back to King Herod. . . .

The Akron Beacon Journal has correctly identified homeschooling as a significant educational movement with the potential to challenge the status quo. But the paper used shallow research and erroneous arguments to discredit homeschooling. Research continues to demonstrate that homeschooling is an effective means of education because it is individualized and flexible. If the government were given power to intervene even further in the lives of homeschool families—as the Akron Beacon Journal calls for—then the unique strengths of homeschooling would be lost to standardization.


1 Vox Day, "Abusing homeschoolers," WorldNetDaily, November 22, 2004.

About the author

HSLDA President Mike Smith cofounded the organization with Michael Farris in 1983. Smith and his wife Elizabeth have four children, three of whom graduated from homeschooling.