These stories are so sad. I do not really know how to comment.
Crystal Ramirez likely spent the last days, weeks and months of her short life hungry, beaten and bound. Crystal, 8, died on Aug. 23. Her sister suffered the same treatment and is currently hospitalized in San Antonio for malnutrition. Victoria Advocate
At eight years old, Crystal (or Chrystal depending on the report) weighed only 28 pounds. That is not much more than my two year old weighs. She had to be little more than a skeleton, a fact that was hidden from public view because her adoptive parents pulled the children out of the public school system in order to homeschool them.
In the case of Chrystal Ramirez and her sister, both had numerous reports made to Child Protective Services during their short stay in the district.
However, both students were pulled out of school over a year ago to begin home schooling.
“Once they begin home schooling,” [N-SCISD superintendent Cathy] Booth said, “we lose all contact with them and the state has no way of tracking them after that.
“These kids are out of sight and too often not heard from like Chrystal.” The Gonzales Inquirer
While I have little doubt that these children were pulled from school exclusively to hide the abuse, Ms. Booth makes it sound as if this is a common occurrence in Gonzales, TX. Unfortunately, it plays directly into one of the more deleterious stereotypes of homeschoolers.
Homeschooling as a potential hiding place for abuse is a frequent concern of those who criticize homeschooling. Social services involvement has been proposed for all homeschoolers in Indiana (as a matter of public discussion) and Michigan (by a state legislator.) It is also the subject of an interesting report by the Akron Beacon Journal, Homeschoolers may be no safer in their homes than other children.
The total number of home-school homicides found by the Beacon Journal in the five-year period from 1999 through 2003 represented about 1.3 percent of all national homicides of children in that age range…
…However, further breakdown of the homicides reveals that all but two home-school homicides were committed by someone in the immediate family (or a family member has been charged). When home schoolers are compared on the basis of homicides by family members, the picture is different: Home-school cases account for 1.9 percent of all U.S. homicides of school-age children within a family.
The picture may be different, but it is not that different. The murder rate is not statistically any higher in homeschooled families than it is in the general population. While the report claims that it likely has underreported the number of abuse cases in homeschooling families for a number of reasons, it has also likely underrepresented the number of homeschooling families since it relied on Department of Education statistics. It also included the Andrea Yates case, although none of her children were of compulsory education age.
It also does not report how many of these cases were at some point reported to Child Protective Services.
Still, the numbers affect all of us. The number of children who die at the hands of CPS do not seem to arouse such strong public sentiments for reform as the number who die at the hands of homeschoolers, even though there appears to be no real significant statistical difference between us and the general population.
The fourth amendment is supposed to protect us from unreasonable search and seizure and homeschooling hardly constitutes probable cause. But what about when the family already has a history of contact with social services? What kind of solution is possible to both protect the rights of all families to be secure in their homes, and the children of those few who desire to hide their abuse behind the guise of homeschooling?