The HARO Survey of Homeschool Alumni

In 2014, HARO, the parent organization of Homeschoolers Anonymous, conducted a survey of adult alumni of the modern Christian homeschool movement in consultation with the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). The purpose of this survey was to investigate the life experiences of Christian homeschool alumni by collecting information that past surveys of homeschool alumni had not. The data collected will be used to advocate for the interests of current and future homeschooled children.

The survey, written by HARO Executive Director R.L. Stollar, was developed over a span of 9 months. Work on the survey began on November 24, 2013 and it was opened to the public on August 18, 2014. A set of approximately 90 initial questions were first created. These questions were then tested, modified, and re‐tested repeatedly over a span of 6 months to create the survey questions that were on the final version. The questions were specifically run by a diverse group of people, including Christians and non‐Christians, conservatives, moderates, and liberals, homeschoolers and unschoolers, and so forth. The final version of the survey featured questions on demographics, academic school experiences, non‐academic school experiences, food and health, religion, present and future personal life plans, sexuality, mental health, and abuse.

The survey, conducted online through SurveyMonkey, was estimated to take respondents 30 minutes to complete. It was first promoted through the homeschool abuse survivor community, from which it spread across the country through online social networks (primarily Facebook). Survey respondents were required to affirm that they were 18 years old or older, had been homeschooled for at least 7 years, were homeschooled in an environment which was classifiable as Christian (including Christian‐influenced new religious movements), and were taking the survey through completion for the first time. A total of 6,249 people started the survey; 3,702 respondents completed the survey before it closed on September 15, 2014. Only the completed responses were recorded and analyzed.

Data analysis was generously provided by the amazing team over at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). HARO is extraordinarily grateful to CRHE for donating an immense amount of their time and energy to analyzing the survey data.

View and download other installments of the survey here: Installment One | Installment Two | Installment Three |Installment Four | Installment Five | Installment Six | Installment Seven | Installment Eight | Installment Nine.

Installment 1: Descriptive Summary

Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out is happy to announce the 1st installment of results from our 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement. Data analysis was generously provided by the amazing team over at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). Read here.

Installment 2: Demographics

Installment Two of the 2014 HARO Survey examines how several variables, particularly age, gender, and parental education level, influenced our respondents’ homeschooling experiences. It also reveals that negative homeschooling experiences were not isolated to respondents from so-called “survivor” communities. Read here.

Installment 3: Academics and Non-Academics

Installment Three of the 2014 HARO Survey reviews the findings about homeschool academics and discuss extracurricular activities in the homeschool experience, including socialization. In general, we find that respondents had satisfactory academic experiences, although this varied by grade level and subject area. Read here.

Installment 4: Food and Health

Installment Four of the 2014 HARO Survey examines the reported attitudes of respondents’ families towards food and modern medicine. In general, we find that respondents’ families highly valued food that was healthy, cheap, and homemade, as was reflected by the prevalence of homesteading and fad diets. Between 10% and 20% of respondents reported negative food experiences and food used as punishment. Additionally, though on average respondents’ families had a positive attitude towards mainstream medicine, around 15% reported that their families preferred alternative medicine. Read here.

Installment 5: Religion

Installment Five of the 2014 HARO Survey examines respondents’ religious denomination, as well as how religion played a role in the teaching of science, politics, and economics. More than half of our respondents characterized their upbringing as fundamentalist; this variable had highly salient correlations with a variety of other factors, including academics, abuse, and attitudes towards homeschooling. Finally, we examine respondents’ current religious beliefs and their relationship to the religious character of their homeschool environment. Read here.

Installment 6: Present and Future

Installment Six of the 2014 HARO Survey examines demographics related to respondents’ present families and careers. The survey found that respondents were more likely to be married than members of the general public. Respondents’ marital status and family size were affected by their gender and age. And finally, most respondents were satisfied with their employment and their career preparation while being homeschooled. Read here.

Installment 7: Sexuality

Installment Seven of the 2014 HARO Survey examines aspects of respondents’ sexualities. Section 1 of the installment provides demographic information on respondents’ sexual orientations. Section 2 shows their changing attitudes towards LGBTQ* people. Section 3 discusses several aspects of the sexual ideology respondents were taught in their homeschooling environment. Section 4 provides participants’ responses to questions about BDSM/kink. Read here.

Installment 8: Mental Health

Installment Eight of the 2014 HARO Survey examines aspects of respondents’ mental health histories, including the mental health conditions they have had, their families’ attitudes towards mental health, and the prevalence of self-injury and substance abuse.

In summary, survey responses to questions about mental health showed that around half of respondents had visited a therapist and around half had experienced mental illness, a figure roughly comparable with that of the general population. Mood disorders appeared to be considerably more common among the survey respondents than in the general population, affecting around 40% of respondents. About half of respondents reported that their parent or caregiver had experienced mental illness; attitudes towards mental illness in respondents’ families of origin tended to ignore it or favor religious and/or supernatural explanations, and respondents obtained very little treatment—even faith-based treatment—for their mental health conditions while being homeschooled. Many respondents felt, however, that their caregivers would be receptive to education about mental health issues. Self-injury was a struggle for more than one quarter of respondents and more than two out of five had struggled with suicidal thoughts. Nearly one in ten had attempted suicide. The rates of mood disorders and suicide attempts may be attributable to the fact that the respondents skewed young and female. Read here.

Installment 9: Abuse

Installment Nine of the 2014 HARO Survey examines respondents’ reports of child abuse, their feelings about spanking, and their understanding of child protective services.

In summary, approximately half of respondents (51%) reported experiencing abuse either within or outside their homeschooling environment, and a further 26% reported knowing another homeschooler who was abused. Within the home, the most common types of abuse reported were emotional/verbal abuse, religious abuse, educational neglect, and physical abuse. Outside of the home, the most common types were religious abuse and emotional/verbal abuse. Among respondents’ homeschooled acquaintances who were abused, the most common types were emotional/verbal abuse and educational neglect. More female respondents reported being abused than males, and only around one-third (35%) of those who reported abuse heard about the survey through the survivor community. With regard to corporal punishment, 44% of respondents reported that their parents used this method of discipline ‘Often’ or ‘Always’; however, only 14% believed corporal punishment was ‘Often’ or ‘Always’ an effective disciplinary method, and only 9% reported that they do or would use corporal punishment to discipline their children ‘Often’ or ‘Always’. Those who were spanked ‘Often’ or ‘Always’ were more likely to consider spanking inherently abusive. Overall, respondents reported that as children they had little knowledge of child protective services and abuse reporting procedures—nearly half experienced fear of child protective services—although more than half believed their caregivers would have been receptive to education in this area. Read more.

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