Dark Side of CBS
- Wednesday, October 29, 2003
On October 13 and 14, a two-part story by Vince Gonzales was aired on the CBS Evening News. The two segments were titled "A Dark Side to Home Schooling" and "Home Schooling Nightmares."
To view the stories - part one and part two -
In over 20 years of advocacy on behalf of homeschooling, HSLDA has seen lots of negative stories regarding home education. However, nothing compares with this series on CBS in terms of distorting the truth about home education.
The message of the CBS report was that families homeschool in order to hide child abuse. To makes its case, CBS simply reported on a few horrific tragedies. Notably absent was any attempt to compare child abuse rates in home education to national rates. Even more alarming was the fact that the examples used did not even support its case. The families that were highlighted in the program were already well known to social services. The existing laws were sufficient to bring the family's difficulties to the light of day.
It is worth briefly reviewing the five examples used by CBS to 'prove' their contention that homeschooling is used to hide child abuse.
There were two cases arising in Texas, both involving a mother killing her children. The cases of Andrea Yates and Deanna Laney received much publicity when they occurred. However, these cases were really not at all about homeschooling hiding abuse. In both situations, the women had severe mental illness which was the determining factor in their crimes and social services was aware of problems within the family. Moreover, most of the children in these two families had not reached the age of compulsory attendance. Therefore, they were no different from millions of families with 'pre-school' children.
Another example was from Iowa. There, the 10 year old adopted child of the Boss's was found dead. CBS contends that homeschooling enabled the family to hide the child from public authorities but the truth is that the Boss's lied to government agencies in order to evade detection. The child was adopted in Michigan and the Boss's informed Michigan authorities that the child was living in Iowa in order to receive monthly subsidy checks from Michigan. The Boss's also lied to local Iowa authorities stating that Timothy was living in Michigan with a relative. If there's any failure it is a failure of the adoption procedure. Homeschooling had nothing to do with the tragedy.
The Warren's, featured in the first CBS report had been contacted by social services eleven times and social services were working with the family when the tragic double murder suicide occurred. Homeschooling did not offer the family 'a form of protection' from the state since the state was already aware of the difficulties within the family. Again, homeschooling was not a factor in this tragedy.
The Edgar's weren't even homeschoolers. According to the Kansas City Star the Edgars were part of a government run virtual charter school. In addition, Christy Edgar had filed for divorce in 1979 citing 'fears of bodily harm from the defendant,' yet the Edgars were allowed to adopt children. Moreover, the family was also known to child protective services. Neil Edgar was accused of using a stun gun to discipline a child in 1999. Homeschooling was in no way connected with the Edgars.
If CBS had truly investigated this issue, they would have come to the following conclusion: Homeschooling is not a source of child abuse or endangerment, but actually a better environment for children.
According to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children were victimized in America at a rate of 12.4 per 1,000 children, resulting in 903,000 children having been found to be victims of child maltreatment in 2001, the most recent year for which statistics are available. More than half of these victims suffered neglect (57%), nearly one fifth (19%) were physically abused, one out of ten were sexually abused (10%). Fatalities resulting from child abuse occurred at a rate of 1.81 per 100,000 children.
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