Safer at Home?

A Detroit News headline today claims that "lax home-school laws" are to blame for a young girl's death by parental neglect. This was indeed a tragic event, and people are right to seek ways to prevent such abuse. Putting heavier regulations on home-schoolers, however, would not solve the problem of abuse.

Quite simply, the issue here is abuse, not the method of "schooling." The only way to prevent abuse is for neighbors, friends, relatives and others involved in the lives of children to detect the problem. The Detroit News article suggests that the girl would have been safer in public schools or with more academic oversight. The facts indicate otherwise.

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Public schools are not a safe haven. In the 2008 School Violence Fact Sheet, the Centers for Disease Control report that "38% of public schools reported at least one incident of violence to police during 2005-2006." Nearly one-quarter of students were in schools with gang activity, and one-quarter of students were involved in drug transactions, according to the CDC.

Nearly 630,000 violent crimes were committed in public schools in 2005, the CDC reported.

One-third of public school students report experiencing bullying. Bullying, in turn, can lead to suicide. In fact, 8.4 percent of public school students in grades nine through 12 report having attempted suicide.

Also, public school attendance is absolutely no guarantee against abuse in the home. The Detroit News article itself states that the abused girl was in public school for years, and that aides noticed many signs of abuse and neglect, but no investigation was launched.

Home schooling gives parents the opportunity to keep their children out of dangerous schools and give them an excellent education. Curtailing this right would threaten these children's safety and ability to succeed. Furthermore, blindly trusting that children are kept safe in public schools can only allow more peer and parental abuse.