Day of the Homeschooled Child is a yearly observance to recognize children harmed by minimal homeschool laws across the U.S. On this day, we come together to honor three specific groups within the homeschooling community:
Children who have been murdered in homeschool settings
Children who survived severe abuse and neglect in homeschool settings
Homeschool alumni with traumatic experiences
Why? Because in the national conversation surrounding homeschooling, abused children and adults are too often unheard. That’s why we founded the Coalition for Responsible Home Education and created Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, a public database of child abuse and neglect cases in homeschool settings. And it’s why we created Day of the Homeschooled Child, set in April to coincide with National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Today, over 1.7 million children are homeschooled in the U.S. But unfortunately, state homeschool laws have almost no measures to ensure these children are receiving a quality education in a safe home.
Here’s a glimpse of what this policy failure looks like:
In 48 states, it’s legal for registered sex offenders and convicted child abusers to homeschool their own children without any restrictions. There are no requirements for those at-risk children to have contact with mandatory reporters of child abuse.
In 11 states, parents aren’t required to notify education officials of their decision to homeschool. That means countless homeschooled children aren’t being accounted for in any way.
No state requires homeschooling parents to screen their children for medical conditions or ensure those children receive care. Abusive homeschooling parents can keep their children away from life-saving medical care without anyone to notice or intervene.
Millions of homeschooled children lack guaranteed access to child welfare programs their public-schooled peers have. That includes food and nutrition programs, age-appropriate sex education, mental health counseling and resources, and monitoring for child abuse and neglect.
Real lives, real consequences
Countless children are paying the price for inadequate homeschool policy.
At least 167 children have been murdered in homeschool settings over the past 20 years, a rate higher than the national average among school-age children.
The state of Connecticut found 36% of all children withdrawn from school to be homeschooled were in families with either a previous child abuse or neglect report accepted by the Department of Children and Families or muliple other reports.
Homeschooled children have the right to physical and mental safety and wellbeing. It’s up to all of us – homeschool alumni, parents, caregivers, medical professionals, social workers, government leaders, activists, organizers, religious leaders, community leaders, media professionals, allies, and others – to fight for that right and raise awareness of this cause.
With issues like COVID-19 and Parental-Rights Extremism complicating K-12 education, nationwide awareness of homeschooling is higher than ever. That makes the stakes higher than ever, too. Now is the time to act.
May the Day of the Homeschooled Child be an entry point for people across the U.S. to stand up for children’s rights and to make homeschool safe.