Educational choice does not determine abuse

Toni at Musings highlighted a report from N.C.’s WRAL summarizing the Sean Paddock case. The Mother, Lynn Paddock has been found guilty of young Sean’s death. The media has pointed out that the family was homeschooling, but reports of child abuse can be found among any educational option. The type of education a family uses is not the issue, the issue is that there are mentally ill and criminal individuals who hurt children. My heart breaks when I think of young Sean, but our society must remember that abuse is a criminal act and there are laws against it. We must enforce those laws.

I am not going to link to any of the Paddock articles because as Valerie Bonham Moon points out, The Associated Press is getting a little testy about Fair Use Policy, but if you do any type of news search for Sean Paddock, you will pull up articles on this sad case.

The headline that Toni linked to suggests that there needs to be further regulation for homeschooling. I’d like point you to an article by Larry and Susan Kaseman at Home Education Magazine that shares common sense reasons why increased regulation will not help, Why Legislation to Prevent “Unqualified” Families From Homeschooling Won’t Work.

WRAL offers a link to the DSS review of Sean Paddock’s death. I’ve read the review and there are many questions and statements presented. The members of the State Fatality Review Team are definitely taking a long hard look at foster care policy, adoption policy, better communication between each agency, positive discipline training and unfortunately, home education.

Here is what the section on homeschooling states:

Finding #5

  • According to the Department of Non-Public Instruction’s web site, Lynn Paddock had a registered home school, Benjamin Street School.
  • The Department of Non-Public Instruction is unable to make site visits to monitor and support home schools’ compliance with state policy due to limited funding and oversight resources.
  • Home schooling may contribute to social isolation if children are not involved in outside activities and adoptive parents are not utilizing adoptive services.
  • The Division of Social Services began to gather statistics related to specific school situations in child protective services in May 2006.

Recommendations #5:

  • The Department of Non-Public Instruction should conduct a study regarding a Needs Assessment and pursue funding to support increased monitoring and oversight of home schools.
  • The State Fatality Review Team supports the continued efforts of the Division of Social Services in regard to the gathering of statistics related to specific school situations in child protective services.
  • The State Fatality Review Team recommends that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner begin to track school status at the time of death and make available this information on a yearly basis to the North Carolina Child Fatality Prevention Team.

I know that homeschoolers in NC will become proactive in this situation, but it is a shame that it is being brought into the case at all. Educational choice does not determine who will and will not abuse children.