Things HSLDA Opposes: Making Emergency Medical Personnel Mandatory Reporters

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on December 17, 2014.

View series intro here, and all posts here.

In 2013, Alabama legislators introduced a mandatory reporting law. While all states require teachers and certain medical professionals to report suspicions of child abuse, some go further and make all individuals mandatory reporters. The Alabama bill read as follows:

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or who observes any child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse shall report the same . . .

In other words, the bill would have required “any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or who observes any child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse” to report their concerns. HSLDA objected. Their position was as follows:

This bill is well-intended, but it is much too broad. It would require even children of all ages to make reports of abuse or neglect and subject them to prosecution if they failed to do so. Young children should not be responsible for making a determination of whether abuse or neglect has occurred and then reporting it to authorities.

Another problem with this bill is that it requires reporting something that is not even abuse or neglect. Families will be investigated because someone reported “conditions or circumstances” that in the opinion of the reporter could result in abuse. Persons should be investigated only if there is evidence of actual abuse, not conditions or circumstances that might lead to abuse.

This bill should be opposed.

From where I’m currently standing, I don’t see a problem with requiring people to report “conditions and circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse.” Not all social services visits are investigations. It is not uncommon for social workers to offer at-risk family resources or tools, helping them along and preventing things from descending into legal abuse.

As for children being required to report, I did some digging and found that the language in the bill is typical for universal mandatory reporter states, which require any “person” who suspects abuse to report it. So while I would have a problem with penalizing children for not reporting their own abuse, that’s not what’s going on here.

But I promised you more than this, didn’t I? HSLDA goes further—much further.

Have a look at this, also from 2013:

Colorado—Senate Bill 220: Expands Definition of Mandatory Reporters

Summary:
Senate Bill 220 expands the definition of mandatory reporters for potential child abuse or neglect to include emergency medical service providers.

HSLDA’s Position:
Oppose.

No explanation is given, as though no explanation is needed. The bill ultimately passed through the legislature and were signed by the state’s governor. But HSLDA’s opposition to the bill makes it clear just how far its opposition to mandatory reporting laws goes—all the way. What possible reason could you have for not requiring emergency medical personnel to report suspected child abuse or neglect?

Ostensibly, HSLDA opposes mandatory reporting laws out of concerns about false reports. But then, both Alabama and Colorado already penalize knowingly false reports. Perhaps the concern is accidental false reports. But then, that is why there are investigations—to determine whether a tip can be substantiated.

What is the practical effect of opposing a law that would make emergency medical providers mandatory reporters? Well, without this law emergency medical providers would not be required by law to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. In other words, it would be legal for an emergency medical provider to notice evidence of abuse or neglect and yet choose not to report it. In other words, the practical effect of opposing a law like this would be to make it harder for child abuse and neglect to come to light.

From what I’ve read of their materials, it appears that HSLDA would like to prevent social services investigations in all but the most severe cases—cases where an investigation hardly need take place at all, so obvious is the evidence. The organization manifests a lack of understanding about how abuse manifests itself and how it affects children. Abusers are generally very good at hiding their abuse—and there is no dichotomy of 100% good parents on the one hand and 100% evil parents on the other. When HSLDA defends child abusers—and they do—they likely do so in part because they have a caricatured image of what an abusive family looks like.

For HSLDA, social services investigations are primarily something that get in the way of parents doing their thing. They are an annoyance to be avoided. By opposing mandatory reporting laws, HSLDA works to cut down on the number of child abuse and neglect reports made. This makes sense in terms of their longterm vision—HSLDA would like the state to have as little power over parents as possible. As a result, the organization seems to weigh these child abuse reports in terms of parental inconvenience, ignoring the negative affect their efforts to cut down on reports made may have on the children involved.

One final note. It is worth asking why an organization whose mission is keeping homeschooling legal would insert itself in mandatory reporting laws. One reason is that homeschooling parents may be reported for educational neglect. But there’s something else involved too: HSLDA defends its member families against accusations of child abuse. Cutting down on child abuse and neglect reports furthers their organizational interests.

Whatever the precise reason for HSLDA’s involvement in mandatory reporting laws, this is another example of HSLDA taking positions that affect far more children than those who are homeschooled.

#HSLDAMustAct: History and Related Media

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April 17, 2013

On April 17, Love Joy Feminism’s Libby Anne — a former homeschool student, former attendee of Patrick Henry College’s summer camp on Constitutional Law taught by Michael Farris, and now-parent of two children; also, one of HA’s blog partners — began a five-part series looking at the relationship between HSLDA and child abuse. Of particular concern to many people who have read this series is that HSLDA has slowly but surely moved from homeschool advocacy to — by their own admission — reform of child welfare laws, including opposing anonymous tips, mandatory reporting, and mainstream definitions of child abuse. The five parts to this series are: (1) HSLDA and Child Abuse: An Introduction; (2) HSLDA’s Fight against Child Abuse Reporting; (3) HSLDA’s Stonewalling of Child Abuse Investigations; (4) HSLDA’s Defense of Child Abuse; and (5) HSLDA and the Deregulation of Homeschooling. Part five of the series was published on April 24.

April 20, 2013

The blogger from the Eighth and Final Square, inspired by Libby Anne’s series on HSLDA and child abuse, writes a post about her own homeschooling experience. It is entitled, “we were taught to fear the people who could help.” The author says she, too, was “instilled with a fear of CPS.” As a survivor of abuse herself, she says, “I wonder what would have happened if HSLDA wasn’t around, and the kids had been allowed to talk to CPS workers alone.”

April 22, 2013

Homeschoolers Anonymous started crossposting Libby Anne’s series on HSLDA in conjunction with a week of personal stories that explored the relationships between homeschooling, HSLDA, and the CPS: fears of the CPS, failures of the CPS, and how the CPS could have actually helped those who suffered abuse in homeschooling.

April 23 – May 2, 2013

After finishing her series on HSLDA and child abuse, Libby Anne continues to focus on issues of homeschooling, abuse, and HSLDA. She creates a legislative alert about one of HSLDA’s legislative alerts, urging people to counteract HSLDA’s efforts to stop SB 32, a bill “designed as a way to monitor and protect the well-being of children who are known to be at risk for child abuse or neglect based on prior incidences.” She argues that it is “simply false to suggest that there is nothing about homeschooling that might be attractive to neglectful or abusive parents.” She cites a plethora of horrific stories to explore the idea that, while “most homeschool parents are dedicated, responsible and loving,” “when abusive parents homeschool, the consequences for their children can be absolutely disastrous.”

May 6, 2013

On May 6, Libby Anne writes a post entitled, “HSLDA: Man Who Kept Children in Cages ‘a Hero.'” In this post, she points out that Scott Somerville, an HSLDA attorney, called Michael Gravelle, a man charged with molesting his biological daughter, putting his adopted kids in cages, and later punching and shaking his own wife, a “hero.”

Later that day, someone posts Libby Anne’s article on HSLDA’s wall:

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The very next day after someone posts Libby Anne’s article on Somerville’s hero comment on HSLDA’s Facebook page, HSLDA chooses to respond via a Facebook status:

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The full text of their response is as follows:

It has come to our attention that HSLDA has recently been accused of condoning child abuse. HSLDA does not and will not ever condone nor defend child abuse. 

HSLDA receives hundreds of calls each year from parents who are under investigation by CPS, often based on false, anonymous, trivial, or malicious reports. The vast majority of these are determined by CPS or a court to be unfounded and are dismissed. Because of this, we do not immediately assume that everyone who is the subject of an investigation is guilty of child abuse or neglect. 

As a service to our members, we help homeschool families navigate the legal landscape in the early stages of an investigation before all the facts come to light. This could include helping families know their constitutional rights, helping them understand the legal process, or referring them to a local attorney. If the allegations include homeschooling, we generally will either assist their local attorney to defend homeschooling or represent the family on homeschool matters.

Of the three examples mentioned in a recent article, we did not represent two of the families and in the third we were involved on the question of homeschooling alone after the other issues were resolved by the court. 

We believe that every child deserves a healthy upbringing and that parents have the high honor and duty to meet that child’s needs. For 30 years we have been zealously advocating for the right of thousands of parents to responsibly homeschool their children. To the extent that any statements we may have made could be misunderstood to suggest that we condone the abusive actions of some we repudiate them wholeheartedly and unequivocally.

Libby Anne promptly responded to HSLDA’s response: “I’ve Had Enough: My Reply to HSLDA’s Response”.

Also in response to HSLDA’s response, R.L. Stollar, co-creator of Homeschoolers Anonymous, issued a challenge to HSLDA on their Facebook page: “HSLDA, will your leaders take a public and universal stand against child abuse and launch a public awareness campaign for your members on how to recognize and report child abuse in homeschooling?”

Stollar’s challenge to HSLDA was quickly mirrored by others. Heather Doney, one of HA’s blog partners, wrote, “Demanding an Answer from HSLDA,” where she says, “We deserve to know where the HSLDA stands. We deserve to know that they are thinking about this issue and that they are doing something about it. I, for one, am requesting an answer. Don’t make us wait too long, HSLDA.”

May 7 – 11, 2013

Homeschoolers Anonymous officially launches the #HSLDAMustAct campaign on May 8.

Rebecca Gorman, a former homeschooler, creates the official Change.org petition for the #HSLDAMustAct campaign.

A new website, Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, was launched by former homeschoolers to “to raise awareness of the horrific abuse and neglect that can take place when unfit caregivers use homeschooling as a cover for criminal child maltreatment.”

On May 9, HA announces the official petition in the post, “25 Reasons To Sign The #HSLDAMustAct Petition.”

Here is a full list of posts from bloggers covering the whole Libby Anne/HSLDA issue and the #HSLDAMustAct campaign since May 7:

Wide Open Ground: “Dear HSLDA and Homeschool Parents, What About My Friend Who Died?” and “HSLDA: Discourse Problem Between Fundamentalist and Outsiders”

Anthony B. Susan: “The HSLDA and Abuse: More Denial and Deflection”

Becoming Worldly: “S***t HSLDA’s Homeschool Parents Say”

Ramblings of Sheldon: “HSLDA: We Would Rather Stand Behind Abusers Than Their Victims”

The Home Spun Life: “Homeschoolers, Christians, HSLDA: We Must Do Better, Kids Are Being Abused”

No Longer Quivering: “Petition: HSLDA Address the Problem”

ThatMom: “HSLDA accused of turning blind eye to child abuse: you decide”

Kathryn Brighbill: “HSLDA and Child Abuse” and “Of Fundamental Rights, HSLDA, and Homeschooling”

Anonymous Wonderings: “On Homeschooling”

On May 10, the Christian Post took on the issue but framed it only as a Libby Anne vs. HSLDA issue: “Home School Legal Defense Association Accused of Protecting Child Abusers.” The Christian Post did not attempt to contact Libby Anne; they tried to contact HSLDA, but HSLDA did not respond. They also did not mention the petition.

May 12, 2013

As of Sunday, May 12, the #HSLDAMustAct petition has over 300 signatures from around the world. The signees are almost entirely from the homeschooling community itself. Former homeschool students, former and current members of HSLDA, and former and current homeschooling parents have all signed it. Signees are from everywhere from California to Louisiana to Pennsylvania, from the U.S. and Canada to Germany and Spain.

Also as of Sunday, May 12, HSLDA has still not responded to the #HSLDAMustAct campaign.

Conclusion

We will leave you with these thoughts from Lisa from The Home Spun Life:

“I have been a financial supporter of HSLDA for many years now and I am asking that they become more transparent with how they practice law, how they defend homeschooling, AND how they protect children in a homeschool that is abusive.

I know children are abused in a variety of types of homes. From poor to wealthy, from Christian to atheist, from public school to homeschools. Abuse happens. It’s tragic! We can’t only speak up about abuse when it happens in a public school. We have to speak up no matter where it happens. And we have to learn how NOT to respond to abuse allegations in the homeschool community.

Defending our freedom to choose our children’s education should never trump their freedom to live in a healthy and safe environment.

To the HSLDA,

As a supporter of yours, I am asking for you to clarify your mission to defend homeschool freedom. I am asking that you inform us and SHOW US how you are defending this freedom WHILE defending children in an abusive homeschool environment. HOW do you separate the defense to protect homeschool freedom WHILE NOT enabling abusive parents to further their abuse under your “protection”? HOW are YOU holding abusive parents accountable? HOW are YOU cooperating with local authorities to HELP victims?

We must do better. We must speak up.”

HSLDA and Child Abuse: HSLDA’s Fight against Child Abuse Reporting

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HA note: The following series will run each weekday this week. It is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. Part two of the series was originally published on Patheos on April 17, 2013.

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Also in this series: Part One, Introduction | Part Two, HSLDA’s Fight Against Child Abuse Reporting | Part Three, HSLDA’s Stonewalling of Child Abuse Investigations | Part Four, HSLDA’s Defense of Child Abuse | Part Five, HSLDA and the Deregulation of Homeschooling

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2. HSLDA’s Fight against Child Abuse Reporting

This is the second post in a series looking at the relationship between HSLDA and both child abuse and educational neglect. In the introduction, I discussed my background with HSLDA and HSLDA’s move from focusing on the legality of homeschooling to protecting families from child abuse investigations. In this post I turn to HSLDA’s opposition to the reporting of child abuse. And I will warn you—this gets progressively worse as we go along.

Opposition to the Anonymous Tip

In testimony given in 2001, HSLDA’s Christopher Klicka argued for reform of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). He argued that CAPTA needed amending in order to protect “parents’ rights” against the “threat” of the child welfare system, and he focused especially on the way child abuse is reported:

Anonymous Tips: As a condition of receiving federal funds, CAPTA should be amended to mandate states to require all reporters of child abuse to give their names, addresses and phone numbers. This will curtail false reporting and end harassment using anonymous tips. CAPTA should be amended by adding subsection 42 U.S.C. 5106a(b)(2)(A)(xiv): provisions and procedures to assure that no reports shall be investigated unless the person making such a report provides such person’s name, address and telephone number and that the information is independently verified.

HSLDA justifies its involvement in issues like child abuse reporting by arguing that homeschoolers are frequently falsely reported to child abuse hotlines by neighbors and family, whether as a result of ignorance or malice. HSLDA sees this as a threat to its member families. On the surface level this sounds like it makes sense, but when you pause to think it sort of falls apart. If you fear false tips, the answer isn’t to make it harder for people to call in child abuse tips—which has the negative side effect of protecting abusers—it’s to make sure that CPS workers have good training and that there are sufficiently high evidentiary standards. In other words, you want the gates wide open at the beginning but narrower as the case progresses.

Police receive anonymous tips all the time, and in fact rely on them heavily, especially when there are reports of threats or danger. Child abuse is a crime, and in arguing that anonymous child abuse tips should be barred HSLDA is asking for it to be treated different from any other crime. In the traditional structure of our jurisprudence, it’s easy to get a case filed, but as you move through the process it takes more and more evidence to keep the case from being summarily thrown out. It should take very little to get into the system, and it should take something substantial to have a verdict against you at the end of the process. And this is how our current system is set up when it comes to child abuse tips. But HSLDA wants to throw this out and treat child abuse differently from any other crime, in spite of the high stakes to the children involved.

Doing away with anonymous tips to child abuse hotlines would mean more abused children going unreported, unnoticed, unseen. The entire point of the anonymous tip is so that anyone, without fear of reprisal, can report child abuse. This means that if you know that your nieces are being abused you can report them without your sister knowing that you turned her in. This means that if you suspect your crazy neighbor is abusing his children, you can report that without worrying that he might find out what you did, and seek revenge. This, quite simply, is why we let people make anonymous tips. If you take away the anonymous tip, people will be more likely to think twice before calling CPS with their suspicions of child abuse, and that means that more abused children will go unreported, unnoticed, and unaided.

Prosecuting Those who Make False Child Abuse Reports

In the same CAPTA testimony, Klicka argued that making false child abuse tips should be made a criminal offense, and that those who call child abuse hotlines to report abuse should be made aware that their tip is being recorded and that there are penalties for false reporting:

False Reporting: As a condition of receiving federal funds, CAPTA should be amended to mandate that states make it at least a class C misdemeanor to knowingly make a false report. U.S.C. 5106a(b)(2)(A)(iv) should be amended to add: . . .and penalties for any individuals who knowingly or maliciously makes a false report of any type of child abuse or neglect that includes—a provision stating that such persons shall also be liable to any injured party for compensatory and punitive damages and a provision requiring that all reporters be informed of the penalties for false reporting and that the call is being recorded. (e.g. Connecticut).

While Klicka stipulates that the class C misdemeaner is applied to those whoknowingly make a false report, the effect of such a law is nonetheless the same as what I said above: It will make people leery of reporting child abuse. I mean, how would you go about proving that you really did suspect abuse against allegations that you just made it up? In practice anyone calling in a report that ends up being unsubstantiated would be liable for criminal prosecution. HSLDA has elsewhere stated that they want families who are turned in for child abuse to have the right to know who turned them in, and to have the ability to sue that person for false reporting. Are they unaware of the results such a policy would have? How can they not know that such laws and penalties would keep people from reporting suspected cases of child abuse, thus protecting abusers and keeping children in abusive situations?

Klicka claims that his goal is to cut down on false reports—or, more specifically,malicious reports—and this is the line that HSLDA takes every time they argue against the existence of anonymous tips or for criminalizing false child abuse tips. But once again, false child abuse tips shouldn’t be seen as this huge problem. If a false tip is called in, a social worker will be dispatched to investigate the allegations and will find them unsubstantiated and close the case. If having a CPS worker at my door to check up on my kids because a neighbor was concerned—or even because a neighbor had a vendetta—is the price I have to pay for ensuring that a concerned neighbor also calls the CPS on an abusive family, then it’s a price I’m more than willing to pay.

Cutting down on false reports, whether malicious or simply mistaken, also means cutting down on the number of reports that are not false. Getting rid of the anonymous tip and imposing criminal punishments for making false reports would make people think twice before taking the risk that reporting a family to a child abuse hotline would become, and thus would in practice have the effect of cutting down on the number of cases of child abuse, real and present child abuse, being reported and investigated.

Opposition to Mandatory Reporting Laws

HSLDA also opposes extending mandatory reporting laws. People who are mandatory reporters are required by law to report suspicions of child abuse. In January of 2012 HSLDA opposed a federal law that would have made every adult a mandatory reporter. Here is the text of this bill, S. 1879.

The requirement described in this paragraph is that the State has enacted a law that creates a felony offense with a minimum penalty of 1-year imprisonment for any person who, having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse, fails to report such information immediately to the relevant State law enforcement agency and the child protection agency of the State.

HSLDA explained its opposition as follows:

S. 1879 will require every single person to be a mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse. States will lose certain federal funds if they do not create mandatory reporter laws that encompass every single person in the state. This will create a massive “police state” system that forces people to report on family members and neighbors even if they only suspect child abuse, or they will face a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail.

HSLDA’s concern is that the bill would require people to turn in families if they “only suspect” child abuse. In other words, HSLDA plays off “having reasonable cause to believe” that there is child abuse occurring as mere “suspicions,” and at the same time minimizes suspicions of child abuse as things that probably shouldn’t be reported. Lay aside for a moment whether or not you think making all adults mandatory reporters on threat of criminal sanction is a good idea and simply pay attention to the reason HSLDA is against doing so—the idea that it’s unreasonable to expect those who “only suspect child abuse” (which is how it interprets the bill’s “having reasonable cause to believe” clause) to report it.

In another case, HSLDA expounded further on its opposition to expanding mandatory reporting laws:

S. 1877 will lead to a massive increase in child abuse and neglect investigations upon families. The stated purpose of S. 1877’s mandatory reporting expansion, along with the education campaign and training program is to “improve reporting” of child abuse and neglect. The bill will give states new federal grants to set up“experimental, model, and demonstration programs for testing innovative approaches and techniques that may improve reporting of and response to suspected and known incidents of child abuse or neglect by adults to the State child protective service agencies or to law enforcement agencies.”

Not only will S. 1877 require every single adult to be a mandatory reporter, S. 1877 will incentivize states to create untested, “experimental” programs that will increase the number of child abuse and neglect reports to CPS agencies.

Once again, leave aside what you think of universal mandatory reporting laws and note that HSLDA is against the laws’ provisions aimed to “improve reporting” of child abuse and “increase the number of child abuse and neglect reports to CPS agencies.” In other words, HSLDA sees educational programs aimed at achieving more consistent, accurate, and voluminous reporting of child abuse and neglect asbad things. As someone who very much wants child abuse to be reported so that abused children can have access to the help they need, this is flabbergasting.

Also in 2012, HSLDA opposed a California law that would have merely made employees of nonprofits that work with children mandatory reporters, requiring them to report suspected or known cases of child abuse, educational neglect, or sexual abuse. HSLDA opposed the law because it “would have caused the loss of tax-exempt status for nonprofit organizations with any activities involving children in California” for organizations whose employees did not report child abuse. This is perhaps only more confusing given that California’s instructions to mandatory reporters regarding what they are expected to report are not at all vague.

HSLDA, then, is against both more consistent child abuse reporting and the reporting of child abuse suspicions when an individual has not personally witnessed the abuse taking place. HSLDA attorneys state that their concern is that programs aimed at improving child abuse reporting will make false reports skyrocket. And I’ll say it again, even if this were the case, so what? False reports will simply be found unsubstantiated upon investigation. It’s like they’re blind to the fact that child abuse is this real thing that really does happen and needs to be reported and stopped more systematically—and the fact that increased reporting of suspected child abuse is agood thing that will improve the lives of real children.

HSLDA also appears to be unaware of the fact that eighteen states already have universal mandatory reporting and disaster has not struck—in fact, those states didn’t actually see explosions in false reporting, and in fact some evidence suggests that the child abuse reports in these states are more likely to be substantiated. (For more on mandatory reporting, this article is a good introduction.) Whatever your thoughts on universal mandatory reporting—and some scholars and advocates have their reservations—you have to at the very least admit that HSLDA’s arguments against universal mandatory reporting laws read like they come from a bizarre dystopia where reporting suspected child abuse is the problem and actual child abuse is not something worth worrying about.

Opposition to Reporting Suspected Child Sexual Abuse

It seems that 2012 was a busy year, because that same year HSLDA also opposed another California law that made all adults mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse. This law was one of many proposed in response to the revelations of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, in which it came to light that several adults in the school’s football program were aware that Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing boys in his charge, or at least suspected that such abuse was taking place, but nevertheless failed to report it. This California law, and others like it, was aimed at ensuring that individuals in similar situations would actually report such abuse. It read as follows:

A competent adult who becomes aware of information or evidence that would cause a reasonable suspicion of child sexual abuse is required to report that information to state or local law enforcement or to county child protective services within 72 hours.

HSLDA explained its opposition to the law with these words:

SB 1551 – would have inappropriately required all adults, most of whom do not understand the complex legal definitions of sexual abuse in California law, to report any “reasonably suspected” child sexual abuse, even when based only upon a rumor. Penalties for failure to report all “suspected” child sexual abuse could have included imprisonment.

We strongly agree with protecting children who are sexually abused but strongly disagreed with this bill’s proposed methods. Known child sexual abuse is a hideous and perverse crime that needs to be reported! We favor cracking down on known child sexual abusers. Current law already requires everyone who has observed child sexual abuse to report it and encourages everyone to report suspected child sexual abuse. The approach in SB 1551 is unnecessary and would have done great harm to the lives and freedoms of everyone.

In other words, while “known child abuse is a hideous and perverse crime that needs to be reported,” requiring people to call in tips regarding child sexual abuse that is “reasonably suspected” is unreasonable. Leave aside the universal mandatory reporting requirement for a moment and you will see that the key word here is “known”—”observed” child sexual abuse should be reported, but child sexual abuse that is merely suspected? Not necessarily. HSLDA’s position appears to be that people shouldn’t necessarily feel that they need to call in child sexual abuse allegations based on silly things like “reasonable suspicion.” Is HSLDA not aware that child sexual abuse is something that is rarely caught in the act?

Reading the above, I’ve realized that I’m completely flummoxed at how HSLDA has such a positive reputation among so many homeschoolers. I mean for goodness sake, the organization has concerns about people reporting the suspected sexual abuse of children!

Conclusion

From opposing the anonymous tip to prosecuting those who call in false child abuse accusations to opposing mandatory reporting laws to suggesting that “suspicion” of child abuse is inadequate grounds for calling child protective services to arguing that child sexual abuse should only be reported if caught in the act, it appears that HSLDA is working to set up barriers to the reporting of child abuse. And as HSLDA itself states, that appearance is correct. HSLDA’s concern about false child abuse reports—something it really shouldn’t even consider a “homeschooling” issue—has led it to make efforts to restrict the reporting of child abuse. And making it more challenging to report suspicions of child abuse doesn’t just cut down on false reports—it cuts down on accurate reports as well.

In HSLDA’s ideal world, only those who directly witness child abuse occurring (i.e., not just suspect that it’s occurring) and are willing to go on the record and be sued and charged with a crime if their allegations turn out to be unsubstantiated should call in child abuse tips. Think about that for a moment, and then ask yourself what that would mean, practically speaking, for the chances of children who are currently being abused, including the victims of sexual abuse. And when you’re done with that, feel free to join me in wondering, for the millionth time, how in the world HSLDA has become so prominent in Christian homeschooling circles.

In the next installment we’ll turn to HSLDA’s stonewalling of child abuse investigations. Let me put it this way: It only gets worse.

To be continued.