Today, WORLD Magazine published an article tentatively exploring the "question" of whether abuse and neglect is a problem inside Christian homeschooling. Here, let me answer that for you definitively: Yes. Yes, there is a problem. This is not a "question." This is not a "debate." Some of us have been talking about it for YEARS.
Look, I'm thankful this issue topic is receiving more exposure among large Christian media outlets, but I'm completely frustrated by the unfair slant of these articles. The sub-title of the WORLD magazine article says it all: "How to keep a few bad apples from spoiling the bushel."
Right. This little "abuse problem" we Christians have? It's just a few bad apples. It's not widespread. Look! We have ninety-and-nine awesome homeschooled sheep! Let's forget about that one lost sheep, k? She was a bad apple, anyway.
That's totally how the parable goes, amen?
No, no it's not. Minimizing abuse is NOT a Christian value and major media outlets should know better. Christians do not abandon the one lost sheep. Christians do not turn a blind eye to the "least of these."
Sadly, WORLD magazine isn't the only culprit, here.
Last year, Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service wrote an article dismissing the impact of Mike & Debi Pearl's To Train up a Child, saying: "while the Pearls may have some amount of influence, it is disproportionate to the amount of space many writers have given them in articles.."
So, once again: abuse within Christian homeschooling isn't worthy of our attention unless it's happening on a wide scale. My question is: how many more children must die before we start acknowledging we have a SERIOUS ABUSE PROBLEM within Christianity?
Because even though Merritt went on to agree that the Pearls' teachings ARE harmful, his general conclusions match Daniel Devine's dismissive attitude in today's WORLD article; mainly, yes abuse happens but it's not a BIG problem. Thank God we're not like those other bad apple homeschooling parents!
This line of reasoning completely misses the point. By making the focus of their investigation a matter of breadth, the abusive experiences of current and former Christian homeschooled children are erased, minimized and dismissed. This is not OK.
Instead of asking whether abuse in Christian homeschooling is widespread, we should be examining its lifelong impact.
Instead of asking how MANY are affected, we should be asking HOW DEEPLY.
So, what can we do? Well, for one, we can speak up. If you see or suspect a child is being abused, please don't look away. Follow your gut instinct and say something! We can also support the good and important work of those trying to make a difference for the future of Christian homeschooling.
I'm so grateful for the hard work of those at Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out and the survey they've put together asking adult homeschool alumni to share their experience. If you're a homeschool alumni aged 18 or older, please go check it out. Your voice is important!
Please also read and share the statement by HARO regarding their response to WORLD Magazine's "Homeschool Debate" article.