Sex abuse, identification abuse, social isolation, food deprivation – Is there a common denominator?
A 21-yr old female has come forward with her personal story of abuse. At the age of 13, her mother died and she was sent to live with her mother’s cousin, Rob Johnson, and his wife, Marie. The young teen was told as a condition of remaining in the family, she must have sex with the couple. “She was told to call Rob “master,” investigators said in an arrest affidavit, and Marie Johnson pushed her against a wall and held her by her throat until the girl agreed to the sexual demands” (Source).
If she didn’t follow their directions, she was beaten. If she didn’t complete her chores, she was beaten. For five years, she was sexually abused twice a week for five years, “all the while, Rob Johnson held Sunday school classes for his family at their home, invoking Old Testament passages to justify the actions, the arrest affidavit said” (Source).
Okay, and this is the part that I want to discuss: this child, who lost her mother, and now was living in a horrific environment was also homeschooled and isolated. She was “not allowed to use the phone and forced to rehearse what to say to doctors if she was asked about sexual activity” (Source).
After she turned 18, she was finally able to leave home when her grandmother bought her a plane ticket to her home in Ohio.
Many homeschool parents would object to the wording in the above articles.
Why? Because they would claim this is an abuse story, not a homeschool story. Some parents would be livid that the word “homeschool” is even mentioned in this article because the choice of schooling is irrelevant. I’ve lost track on how many times I have seen this argument by homeschooling parents, including many of my long-time homeschool friends.
This story is not isolated. Last year I reported on the Jackson family. This is another conservative Christian homeschool family in which a young girl was raped by her brothers for many years. Her parents knew this was going on and turned a blind eye. You can read more here: Four of the Jackson Brothers Plead Guilty in Incest Rape Case.
Is homeschooling the real issue here, or sex abuse?
I think we can all agree that in this case, the type of education is not the real issue, sex is. However, when looking at the larger picture, we need to ask:
Is homeschooling the vehicle by which abuse can be more easily facilitated?
When parents or guardians claim they are homeschooling, this education designation affords them more freedoms than if their child were enrolled in school. In Virginia, if I notified my school district that I would be homeschooling and filing a “religious exemption,” the State’s hands would tied and would unable to have any oversight whatsoever. So, essentially, a parent could do whatever they wanted to educate their child – – or not educate their child. No one would know.
Some fringe Christians are anti-government, and they don’t bother notifying their school district that they are homeschooling
their kids. We’ve seen the case of Alecia Faith Pennington who moved from her parents’ home and had no birth certificate, no medical records, no driver’s license, no social security card, no way of obtaining a job, and no way of traveling without a VISA, which requires identification documents.
For over three decades, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has indoctrinated parents to be fearful of the government, and so we have a whole generation of homeschool parents who don’t want any governmental oversight at all. They feel that any oversight usurps parental rights. As a former veteran homeschool mom (23 years), I used to be one of that crowd and probably even 6 years ago, I would have had it out with the new me today. I know the arguments. They are the same arguments homeschooling parents have said for years.
Now I am seeing things through different lenses as I observe:
- identification abuse like the “Alecia Penningtons” without any legal identification to help them move forward as adults
- young ladies held in a patriarchal prison, forced to remain in their parents’ home long after they are legal adults, prevented from going to college, prevented from much engagement outside the circle of their “protected” and isolated homeschool and church community cocoon
- boys being taught in Patriarchy Movement that women are for their objectification
- girls being taught that they were created to “serve” men and in the process, they lose their own personhood
- parents using their children as work slaves
- parents withholding proper medical care/treatment: this link gives many stories of medical neglect
- parents forcing their children to live in horrific conditions
- sexual abuse hidden for years: link to many stories of sex abuse, the Josh Duggar sex abuse case
- children confined, isolated, imprisoned, socially isolated: link to many stories of imprisonment
- children deprived of basic needs of food: link to many accounts of food deprivation
What is the solution?
I understand that parents do not want to lose their rights to homeschool.
I understand that parents do not want big brother looking over their shoulders.
But what about these innocent children who are slipping through the cracks?
Do they not deserve better?
How can we help to protect the children who are being harmed when deviant parents use “homeschooling” as their umbrella of protection to abuse?
Coalition for Responsible Home Education: “OUR MISSION is to raise awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, provide public policy guidance, and advocate for responsible home education practices.”
Homeschooling’s Invisible Children: “Homeschooling’s Invisible Children (HIC) shines a light on the dark side of homeschooling, where a lack of outside protections for homeschooled children has led to some horrifying consequences. Homeschooling can be a useful educational tool in the hands of the right parents, but when it falls into the hands of the wrong parents the results can be disastrous, and it is the children who suffer.”