Homeschool Advocates Urge Indiana Lawmakers to Pass SB 428

For Immediate Release: Better data collection would help protect vulnerable children

02/04/2020—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Indiana lawmakers to pass Senate Bill 428, which would require the Department of Child Services to include information on children who receive home instruction in its annual child fatality review report. 

“We founded CRHE due in part to concerns about the increasing number of stories we heard about severe and fatal abuse of homeschooled children,” says Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “We have always emphasized the importance of collecting data on fatalities in homeschool settings.” Coleman says efforts to better protect and support homeschooled children are often stymied by a lack of quality data on homeschooled children and their wellbeing. In Indiana, parents who homeschool their children are not required to notify either local or state education officials. No state currently reports information on educational method in its statistics on child abuse. This bill would make Indiana a leader in this regard.

CRHE maintains Homeschooling’s Invisible Children, a database of severe and fatal cases of abuse or neglect in homeschool settings, including multiple cases in Indiana. One case that drew attention was that of Christian Choate, who was starved to death in 2009 at age thirteen, after spending years living in a dog cage. Two fatal cases occurred in the past year: 9-year-old Edward Posso died in Bloomington last May, and 10-year-old Skylea Carmack died in Gas City in August. Both children were homeschooled, and both were tortured by their parents. 

A growing body of research suggests that homeschooling offers abusive and negligent parents a way to isolate, neglect, and mistreat children without detection. In 2014, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin found that 47% of the school-age child torture victims she studied were removed from school to be homeschooled. (Another 29% were never enrolled in school). In 2018, the Office of the Child Advocate of Connecticut found that 36% of children removed from school to be homeschooled lived in families that were subject to at least one prior child abuse or neglect report. 90% of these cases involved founded or multiple reports. 

“Better data collection is crucial to preventing abusive parents from exploiting the homeschooling law to isolate children and hide abuse,” says Coleman. “We urge Indiana lawmakers to take a stand for vulnerable children by passing Senate Bill 428.” 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.

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