Update, 15 Sep 05:
The news concerning the children in Ohio whose sleeping arrangements appeared to be ‘cages,’ continues to develop, and complications about reporting about it in this forum, also develop. In the last-noted news article of this update (below), it is reported that the children are enrolled in the Ohio Connections online public-school-at-home program, also known colloquially as an online charter, an e-school, or, in Ohio, as a community school. This raises the question as to whether the situation technically concerns homeschooling, which is the focus of this forum. This isn’t to callously distance homeschooling from the situation, but only reflects one ramification in a long-term discussion, that, despite outward similarities, homeschooling differs from publicly-provided at-home instruction.
The sensational story will continue to attract attention from various news agencies whose reporting will provide additional information and, with luck, insight.
- Eleven US children ‘found caged’
- Adoptive parent’s mother: Children weren’t abused
- Mother Accused Dad Of Abusing Kids Found In Cages
- Children in home with cages were well-dressed, polite
- Adoption agencies will face scrutiny
Ohio Connections is a publicly funded charter school that educates children via the Internet.
Ray Lambert, Ohio Connections principal, confirmed the children have been enrolled for about a year. He said his school requires teacher contact with the family every other week.
“We have already been in contact with representatives of the Ohio Department of Education to make any records available to them,” Lambert said in an e-mailed response to questions.
“We did have occasion to meet with the children in person on several occasions, and like the others who came into contact with this family, we are surprised at this story. We did not encounter anything that caused us to believe there were issues with the health and safety of the family.”
Ohio Connections, based in suburban Columbus, is part of a nationwide chain with headquarters in Maryland.
On email lists there have been discussions of the conditions reported, and some listmembers have posted information about conditions that require methods that appear abnormal to persons who have no experience with some special-needs situations. A selection of links that have been posted are:
- Angleman Syndrome Foundation — page B for beds
- Smith-Magenis Syndrome –sleep
- TASH — In the Name of Treatment: A Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Child From the Use of Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion
- Seclusion and Restraint Practice Standards: A Review and Analysis
- A Bed for Every Body
The ‘story’ is still ‘young’ and information based on ‘initial reports from the front’ is subject to change.
Another abuse case, to all outward appearances involving a family saying they are homeschooling, was reported in Ohio.
- The Morning Journal, Clarksfield Township, Ohio, 13 September 2005, Children found in locked cages
There were two 3-year-olds, two 7-year-olds, two 8-year-olds, a 1-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 9-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old taken who were living in the house, Sommers said.
Recently, someone told authorities they had seen the cages more than a year ago, but the information was too old on which to act, Sommers said. Authorities acted after they received a recent complaint by a neighbor who said the children were working in the garden and yard abnormally long hours, Sommers said.
Sommers and the Department of Job and Family Services are tracking down what agency arranged the adoptions, the family’s history and other details, he said.
The investigators believe the children are from out of state and were adopted through private agencies, said Mushett, who didn’t have further details and referred further questions to the Huron County Prosecutor’s Office.
At least two of the children at one point attended Western Reserve Schools, Sommers said. Neighbors believe the children were most recently home-schooled, said Sherry Hall, who lives in the area.
The Gravelles lived in the small house for at least 10 years, and the first two adopted children moved in about five years ago, Hall said. Gradually, more and more children moved into the home, she said.
Details will probably continue to be reported as investigators uncover information, but viewpoints to keep in mind while reading the story, and later clarifications, might be:
- According to their ages, at least four children would have been adopted into the household in the five years the family began adopting, and perhaps more were adopted during that time. Were no in-home interviews conducted by the agencies involved?
- The cages had been seen more than a year ago. Why was there a delay in finding out why the family had cages?
- Why was the information considered too "old?"
- Why wasn’t the report investigated while the information was fresh?
- Were there any neglect indicators while the children who attended public schools were enrolled?
Articles and information concerning previous news reports of abusive parents who described their family situation as ‘homeschooling’ are:
- Why Legislation to Prevent "Unqualified" Families From Homeschooling Won’t Work
- Text of Cover Letter for Thoughts on Protecting Children in Homeschooling Families, submitted to the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force
- Thoughts on Protecting Children in Homeschooling Families
- Homeschooling and Child Abuse: No Connection
- Controversial Topics: Child Abuse
Abuse-reporting statistics are at:
- U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Chapter 2, Reports, Child Maltreatment 2000
The three most common sources of reports were education personnel (16.1%), legal or law enforcement personnel (15.2%), and social services personnel (14.4%).
Nonprofessional report sources submitted the remaining 43.9 percent of screened-in reports.
Bad people do bad things. Homeschooling is no more a cover for child abuse than churches are for sexual abuse, or scouting programs, or public schools. Homeschooling advocates and families roundly condemn child abuse regardless of who perpetrates it.