The Sinister Side of Homeschooling

I have been a critic of home schooling for many years now. My reasons are many but the major points are

  • Home schooling too often is used to promote an ideology, religious or political.
  • Home schooling, despite professional support, is not monitored and cannot be verified as efficacious.
  • Anecdotal evidence concerning home schooling is almost exclusively about successes and failures are seldom mentioned.
  • Home schooled children are not exposed to alternate learning and are less prone to develop critical thinking skills.
  • Home schooled children are not socialized with other children, especially other children that are different from them.

Now I read about another problem, one related to my other concerns but something I really had not thought of:

  • Home schooled children are not observed in a non-family environment and this allows mistreatment of those children to more easily go on without being noticed.

This revelation made me stop and think: not only are the home schooled students not exposed to other children at school, but the officials at the school are not available to observe any questionable behavior or body damage that might suggest a problem at the student’s home which should be followed up on. If a student came to school with a black eye and bruises on arms and legs, the teacher would notice this and make a report; but if the student is home schooled, no one would ever know if the student was being abused in the home.

The article in The Daily Beast by Michelle Goldberg leads with this example:

Because the practice is almost entirely unregulated in much of the country, parents are able to hide their crimes—sometimes fatally.


On September 9, the parents of Hana Williams, an Ethiopian teenager living in the state of Washington, were convicted of killing her. During the last year of her life, court documents show, she had lost almost 30 pounds as she was beaten, denied food, forced to sleep in a barn, and given cold outdoor showers with a garden hose. Much of the time she was kept barefoot, although she was allowed shoes if there was snow on the ground. Sometimes she was given nothing but a towel to wear. If Williams had been in school, someone might have noticed that she was underdressed and emaciated. But she was homeschooled, and so her parents, fundamentalist Christians in thrall to a harsh disciplinary philosophy, had complete privacy to punish her as they saw fit. She died naked, face down in the mud in their backyard.

Read the article in The Daily Beast for a more complete discussion of this problem.

5 thoughts on “The Sinister Side of Homeschooling

  1. There are laws in America against murder, yet murder still happens frequently. There are laws against abuse, but it still happens. The real issue, which you see as well, is that there is evil in the world. If HS was illegal that family that you had in the main post probably would have still home schooled, and even if they didn’t they might use summer vacation as the time to use their sick form of discipline. Since it is mandatory for me to take a class every 5 years on abuse since I am a nurse I learned that another way parents abuse children is by leaving marks where others won’t see them (especially in public). So I sincerely echo all your concerns with people that are corrupt humans who do not value children as a gift to be treated with love and kindness. But I went to a public school where a teacher forced a student into a closet for being disruptive (maybe some would applaud her for that), another teacher held a boy up by the collar of his shirt so his feet were off the floor (that was in 1st grade), and a married coach had relations with an under-aged teen girl (only the coach was fired in all those examples of poor teachers.) What I feel safe and secure of is that my kids will be safe; there will be no school shootings at my house (we don’t own guns). But even that won’t protect my kids from the outside world because ultimately there is evil all around us, and all we can do is treat others with kindness and love.


  2. Quick Note: We were taught religions of the world in High School when I was a wee bairn. High School varied the classes by year—social studies, world history, American history, civics. Social Studies was concerned with the various cultures and religions around the world as well as the crop yields and rainfall amounts in the those countries.

    Also, the point was not that Home Schooling was dangerous but that when the sour grapes are destructive, the Home Schooled children are hidden from the public notice inherent in public school. Compare Home Schooling to the gun problem: most gun owners never cause problems with their guns but there are too many dead children to ignore a need for tighter gun control.


  3. Your main points
    1) HS used to promote ideology, religion, and politics- Yes, and so does this article and every other social media news story.
    2) HS is not monitored- depends on the state. My state requires annual testing or quarterly assessments by a licensed teacher
    3) HS speaks of success and not failures- If the purpose of school (public or home) is education then academic success is the gauge to measure.
    4) HS is not exposed to alternate learning- that is an oxymoron. HS is an alternate learning form. As for critical thinking how can you measure that? Can you say that a public school child is able to critically think better than a HS child? Depending on the HS method, like Classical Education for instance, they follow the trivium. Grammar ages is building the foundation for solid grammar, language arts, etc. Next, is the Logic stage (middle school years) where students begin to ask why questions. Lastly is the Rhetoric stage (high school) which applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundation from the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, educated language. There are poor movements of HS which includes: Unschooling, which should be illegal.
    5) Socialization definition: a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. If you have been through public school, as I have, you see what happens when this socialization occurs. Kids vie for popularity, whatever the cost. Peer pressure, bullying, underage drinking and drug use, etc. Healthy socialization is not putting a child with 30 other kids their age. My life experience has taught me that older folks have great wisdom and interacting with younger ones has a way to make you humble. If you think of the friends you would call your best friends, are they all your same age?
    6) The mistreatment of children- That is horrible. As a nurse I have seen many mistreated children and unfortunately even when we see it and report it to DHS, nothing changes. The sad fact is that children are abused regardless of being public or homeschooled. The children I know that are homeschooled in my area are involved in churches, sports, community volunteering, and are very much in public eye. That story is a rare one thankfully and those people are not Christians. Because if they were Christians they would know that even hating someone is considered murder to God. They deserve to be put in prison for life.

    I have young ones at home and am planning on homeschooling for the following reasons:
    1) I want to teach phonics and phonograms for reading and not sight words as our public school teaches. Kids can’t retain that many words and it makes for poor reading comprehension and poor speellers in the future.(Hope you caught the humor there)
    2) I want to advance my children based on their ability and not have them be held back because the rest of the class needs more time on a topic
    3) I want to take more time with my children to help them fully grasp a skill, topic, etc.
    4) I plan to school year round, 3 months off is a mistake because kids loose knowledge.
    5) Flexibility- A major life event takes place and we can take time to deal with it.
    6) I plan to adopt and I want my adopted children to be able to bond and feel connected to our family and not a group of strangers. Then as they develop socially they can branch out in sports, music, community events, etc.
    7) I want my children when they are highschoolers to be able to pick their own curriculum that will best benefit their future occupations. They will have the foundations and basic classes, but then if they want to become a biologist they can choose curriculum that tailors to that field of study.


    1. The article responded to many of your points. Your response is, as is so often the case, a personal evaluation and ignores the many abuses of education and children that result from Home Schooling … not everywhere, not everyone, but clearly present and often cited. Things like: I don’t want my child to learn about other religions; I don’t want my child to associate with black children; I don’t want my child waste time assisting others who might need a boost to succeed. There definitely are examples of highly successful home schooling and with all the dedication and effort it requires, those mothers and fathers who undertake the task should be commended. But too often the unstated reason behind home schooling is that the child is deemed too special or unique to be forced to associate with the hoi polloi? Add to this the reality that not all patents teaching their kids are sufficiently skilled or motivated, and there is a lot of Home Schooled children that are being left behind.

      One note (and this is from a life-long learner and semi-academician): is a successful education really just measured by academic success?


      1. I echo your concerns, which some are founded on certain experiences you might have had with homeschool families in your area or national media. In my state there are many schools on the government watch list because of poor standardized tests in reading and math. I think the failure of the system is not the public school teachers or kids of different levels of proficiency in the same classroom, I think it is the assumption that a test determines how well school teachers are doing and how well homeschool families are doing. In your question about: is successful education measured by academic success? I would say no. But the government thinks it is measured by standardized test results. I think academic success is measured by the child fulfilling their gift; whether that be in literature, math, woodshop, band, P.E., home economics, computers, etc. No two people are alike and you can’t judge their education by them filling in a little circle with a number 2 pencil. To your other concerns about religion, the public school does not teach about other world religions. Usually that would be covered in college courses. The only way it is taught in public school is through history class if they cover world history, which is required by the states for homeschool parents to teach as well. I don’t know what state you live in and I can only go off of mine, but segregation of color is more seen in the actual homeschool families than in certain public school settings. Most families I know have welcomed children in from troubled families through foster care and have gone on to adopt them. As for the comment about HS families not wanting their kids to try and boost other children’s education, that actually happens within the HS family. A 8 year old can read to their 4 year old sibling so they learn to joy of teaching and assisting someone. I fully agree there are some parents not qualified to teach, but I know when children reach a skill level beyond their parents then they seek online classes, college classes, tutors, etc.The real heart behind a lot of your concern is you feel parents that choose to HS are super religious, snobbish, and self-righteous. Which to that, I say that I’m sorry you feel that way, but not all grapes are sour in a bunch. I support public schools and homeschooling because I’m glad that parents get to choose what works for their families.


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