Study on Child Abuse and Neglect and Homeschooling Dispels Conventionally Held Views

A new study on child abuse and neglect and homeschooling dispels conventionally held views. Scholars, policymakers, and special interest groups have had heated debates during the last few years regarding whether there is more abuse and neglect of public school, private school, or homeschool students. The claims and allegations have often flown too fast and loosely.

But nationally representative evidence has been lacking to inform the discussion. Data collection during schooling age poses several constraints, and school-age children may underreport incidences due to fear. Dr. Brian Ray and Dr. M. Danish Shakeel present a nationally representative survey of adults who were previously homeschooled or conventionally schooled.

In this groundbreaking study, cross-sectional findings suggest that school sector is a non-issue after considering the role played by demographics. That is, child abuse and neglect are significantly associated with family structure, years in foster care, large family size, and household poverty. Homeschooling and child abuse is not the issue, and conventional school and child abuse is not the issue; rather, demographics are the key to explaining differences.

If anything, the weak incidences of child abuse among homeschoolers are not related to family, but with school and community. That is, the maltreatment is not happening at home and within the family but by others at places and activities such as at co-ops (co-operatives), part-time classes at a public or private school or a pod, museums, sports activities, music lessons, scouts, church or synagogue, or a play group.

Policymakers should keep in mind that school sector (conventional school compared to homeschool) is an unimportant variable in child abuse and neglect, when compared to student demographics. Policymakers should rely on empirical and representative evidence and consider how to reduce abuse and neglect overall.

The entire scholarly article is available from the Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform.

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