HSLDA: Man Who Kept Children in Cages “a Hero”

In my recent series on HSLDA and child abuse, I revealed that HSLDA has lobbied against bills banning excessive corporal punishment and in favor of cutting down on the ways child abuse tips may be made, but at the time I wrote that series I hadn’t found hard evidence of HSLDA defending and praising known child abusers. I now have that information.

It may make you sick to your stomach. It may make you feel the urge to vomit. It did all of that to me and more. But it also made me angry. Angry, because I found that HSLDA’s attorneys have looked in the face of child abusers and called them “good parents,” “loving parents,” even “heroes.” In this post I’m going to run through three cases, looking at at horrific acts of abuse and at HSLDA’s response to these cases. I’m going to try to run through this at a quick pace without getting too bogged down.

In 2005, homeschool parents Michael and Sharon Gravelle were accused of child abuse and their eleven adopted children were removed from their home. The Akron Beacon Journal reported HSLDA’s response:

Scott Somerville, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association in Virginia, said he talked with Michael Gravelle before the story broke in the media, and he believes this is a family trying to help special children.

When a social worker visited the house last week, there was no resistance to an inspection, said Somerville, whose organization represents home-schooling families on legal matters.

“They had nothing to hide,” Somerville said. “He told me why they adopted these children and told me the problems they were trying to solve.

“I think he is a hero.”

In other words, when faced with accusations of child abuse against Gary Gravelle, a homschooling father, HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville declared Gravelle “a hero.” Why? Presumably because of he had adopted special needs children. But what actually happened in the Gravelle home? Let’s take a look:

The Gravelles’ children told [Lt. Randy] Sommers of punishments including ”spankings with a board, name calling and being held under water,” Sommers said.

One boy said he had ”his face shoved against a bathroom wall until his nose bled,” Sommers testified.

The sleeping arrangements for some of the children were homemade enclosures made with wood and chicken wire that had alarms on the doors. County authorities call the enclosures ”cages,” while the Gravelles say they were enclosed beds used to protect the children.

The children would soil their beds rather than open the door and go to the bathroom because they did not want to trigger the alarm, they also told the investigator. Another boy told the detective he was forced to write ”in long hand” a book out of the Bible before he was allowed out of his enclosed bed, Sommers testified.

When asked whether he believed the children’s accounts, Sommers said he did because many of the stories were repeated by more than one child.

“I think he is a hero,” HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville said of a man who kept his adopted children in cages and punished them by holding their heads under water in the toilet. Oh, and guess what? It turns out that Michael Gravelle had previously sexually abused his biological daughter. “Hero” indeed.

Okay, next case. In 1992 six year old Hannah Carrol, an adopted child with Down syndrome, died of horrific burns caused by bleach.

Six-year-old Hannah Carroll raised her left arm “in a protective position” to try to stop bleach from getting poured on her – and then suffered horribly after it was allowed to soak into her skin for at least an hour, an expert testified Thursday.

That testimony directly conflicts with her Cedarville family’s account of the incident – which experts called “incredulous” and “impossible.” Family members have said Hannah poured the bleach on herself, got immediate attention for the accident, and acted normally until her death three days later. Presented in the third day of a Greene County coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Hannah and three fellow adopted siblings, the testimony by a nationally recognized authority on burns compelled two top county officials to consider further action.

Dr. Glenn Donald Warden, chief of staff of Shriners Burns Institute in Cincinnati since 1985, said photos, medical reports and his own experiments contradict the family’s account. A man whose credentials fill 44 pages, Warden “is probably the country’s foremost burns expert,” Schenck said.

He said the Carroll family had to know Hannah needed medical treatment. In his 23 years in working with burns, Warden said he’d never seen a case as bad as Hannah’s go untreated. She suffered second-degree burns over 27 percent of her body, and to the cornea of her left eye.

“Burns are painful. They’re probably the most painful injury we can sustain,” he said. “Compounded by the burned eye, the child’s pain had to be “almost incomprehensible,” Warden said.

Her injuries were life-threatening but she could’ve been saved if treated. Hannah died from burn shock – something that happens as a result of the body’s own defense mechanisms.

Fluids rush to the burned areas, leaving little fluid in other parts of the body. As a result, the body shuts down the digestive system and next causes the kidneys to fail in order to allow continued nourishment of the brain and heart, Warden explained.

Autopsy reports show Hannah was extremely dehydrated and her kidneys were failing. Given these facts, he said, there’s no way the child could’ve been acting normally, as the family said.

The autopsy report notes her entire digestive and waste tracts were empty – which would take about 24 hours without food, other witnesses said.

The burn was so serious that it would’ve required skin grafting “on the entire front of her chest” and Warden said a burn that serious couldn’t possibly have been caused by exposure to bleach for only about five minutes, as family members stated.

Once investigations were launched into Hannah’s death, it came out that three more of Timothy and Kathleen Carroll’s ten adopted special needs children had died under suspicious circumstances, all within nine months of Hannah’s death. Several months into the investigation, one of those additional deaths was definitively ruled a homicide—as was Hannah’s death. The Carrolls never admitted to killing the children, but they ultimately plead guilty to child neglect for not seeking life-saving medical treatment for Hannah.

In 1995, Isaiah and Samuel, two of the Carrolls’ special needs adopted children, who had been in foster care since Hannah’s death two years before, were returned to the Carrolls on the condition that they be subject to increased monitoring. A battle immediately began over whether or not the Carrolls should be allowed to homeschool their children. As the local newspaper put it: “The Carrolls have insisted on educating their own children, Mrs. Carroll said, because they can provide for the children’s spiritual needs and a nurturing environment.” When a judge ruled that the Carrolls must send the children to public school, HSLDA took the case, defending the Carrolls’ right to homeschool. Here is how HSLDA described the case to its members (Home School Court Report, Vol. 11 No. 4):

Tim and Kathleen Carroll are a loving Christian couple who have adopted 10 special needs children over the course of their marriage. As a result of the unfortunate death of 4 of these severely handicapped children, the Carrolls have faced criminal prosecution and children’s services intervention for the last three years. Though their oldest child, a 19-year-old, is not permitted to live at home, the custody of all of their minor children has been returned to them. The only issue remaining to be decided is whether Mr. and Mrs. Carroll may be permitted to home school a 12-year-old child with cerebral palsy and a 7-year-old child with Down’s syndrome.

In a surprising ruling, the court held that the best interest of the children include public schooling for Isaiah and Samuel. The court explained its decision by saying, “If these children were children without the special problems facing them, the Carrolls would have the constitutional and statutory right to home school them as they are doing with Hosea.” This abuse of discretion and violation of the parent’s fundamental rights to give their children a Christian education has been appealed to the Ohio Court of Appeals.

Even if they did not intentionally burn their daughter Hannah to death with bleach, even if it actually was an accident (which seems highly doubtful given the facts of the case), the Carrolls still refused to seek medical care for her as she lay in searing pain with horrific burns covering 27% of her body, including one of eyes. They waited and did nothing as she stopped eating and her organs began shutting down one by one. This all they admitted to. And yet, HSLDA termed them “a loving Christian couple” who had suffered the “unfortunate death” of four of their children. In the end, HSLDA won the case, and the Carrolls were allowed to homeschool Samuel and Isaiah.

Okay, deep breath. One more. In 2010 Child Protective Services removed five homeschooled children, several of whom were adopted, from their parents, John and Carolyn Jackson. We first look at a 2011 World Net Daily article on the case, titled “Father: ‘My Children Are Being Held Hostage.’”

It’s every parent’s nightmare.

Army Major John Jackson and his wife Carolyn, devout Christian homeschoolers with a history of serving as adoptive and foster parents, had their five children taken away in April 2010 by the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services – and despite the collapse of the evidence against the Jacksons, DYFS hasn’t returned the children to their parents.

During the course of a nine-month legal battle to regain custody of their children, the Jacksons say they have encountered prejudice against their religion and homeschooling as they fight a state agency determined to see the children adopted by strangers no matter what the evidence says.

“They’ve got all my children,” John Jackson lamented. “My children are being held hostage. They’ve been kidnapped.

“They’re not accountable to anyone,” Jackson told WND. “They told us they do not lose cases, and they will substantiate the abuse. This has not been an objective investigation in the first place. They want to adopt the children out, because they get money for adopting children out.”

A DYFS spokesman refused to comment on the case, citing “strict confidentiality laws.”

“This is a good, Christian homeschooled family. They’re being persecuted,” said the Jacksons’ lawyer, Grace T. Meyer, a New Jersey attorney affiliated with the Home School Legal Defense Association. “They’re homeschooled and they don’t fit the pattern for most DYFS cases. Most cases involve parents who are on drugs or in jail … in these cases you’re guilty until proven innocent.”

While the above article was not written by HSLDA and the Jackson parents were not officially represented by HSLDA, the Jacksons hired an HSLDA-affiliated attorney to defend them, an attorney who began her defense by arguing that the case was an example of the persecution of Christian homeschoolers. It is only recently that the extent of the abuse that went on in the Jackson family has been released to the media.

A U.S. Army major and his wife allegedly punished their adopted children with such “unimaginable cruelty” that it might not even fly in “Full Metal Jacket.”

Maj. John E. Jackson, 37, and Carolyn Jackson, 35, force-fed their three adopted children hot sauce and red pepper flakes, broke their bones, refused them medical attention and deprived them of water, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

At least one child was so thirsty that he attempted to drink from a toilet bowl but the Jacksons ordered one of their three biological children to stand guard over the bathroom to stop this, court documents said.

“The crimes alleged should not happen to any child, anywhere, and it is deeply disturbing that they would happen on a military installation,” Fishman said.

The abuse occurred while the family lived at Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County, N.J., from 2005 until 2010, The Star-Ledger reported. One of the adopted children died in May 2008.

If that is a “good, Christian homeschooled family,” the fewer we have of those the better. What is becoming more and more evident is that HSLDA has a track record of denying abuse and believing abusive parents’ wheedling explanations over the accusations, words, and conditions of their children.

It becomes increasingly clear that HSLDA doesn’t care a flying fig about children. All HSLDA cares about is the organization’s beloved idol, “parental rights.” In HSLDA’s world, Michael Gravelle is a hero, Timothy and Kathleen Carroll are a loving Christian couple, and John and Carolyn Jackson are good, Christian homeschool parents. In the real world, we see them for what they are: child abusers.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Jolie

    Yeah,I’m betting the same-ones who advocate horrific child abusers who beat their children, burn them with bleach, starve them for days, brainwash them into absolute obedience and deprive them of basic education (as long as they do it in the name of religion) totally should be allowed to adopt are the same-ones who virulently argue a kind, nurturing, stable same-sex couple should not.

  • Alix

    …Forget just regulating homeschoolers. We need regular home visits for every family, no excuses.

    Yes, I know there are a multitude of problems with that idea, starting with the logistical and working up through all the permutations of human fallibility. But this is about the nicest, most printable thing I can say right now; my first response … well. Let’s just say that I am not categorically opposed to capital punishment, and leave it at that.

  • Nathaniel Winer

    I bet all these people are pro-life. Because they are good Christians who know abortion takes an innocent life.

  • Lisa

    I think I’d rather stab my eyes out with a rusty spoon than being the lawyer of such people one day.
    There’s one thing I will have to say: Why in the world is a normal family given TEN (!!!) special needs kids to adopt? Why is there no limit to adopting special needs kids? These children need – and deserve – extra attention and loving care. One is certainly doable, and if one parent stays home, two might still work out fine, but four? To a family in which no member has received special care and treatment schooling? Though this is no excuse for abuse, it is almost a guarantee for neglect. I know there are many special needs children who desperately wait to find good new parents. I really do and I wish there was a family for each one of them, but it is not, in any way, shape or form, in the best interest of the special needs child to be adopted into a family which already has multiple special needs children to care for.

    • Niemand

      I suspect that there are so many special needs kids in the system without any possible adoptive parents that the system doesn’t look too closely at people who do volunteer. “Good Christian”, middle class (probably white) parents with a track record of having been approved for prior adoptions can probably buy all the special needs victims they want from the state without anyone asking any questions.
      This is what the “pro-life” movement wants to subject more children to. They want to make sure that there are more babies available for adoption by people like this. It’s not only women who suffer when abortion is denied.

      • Lisa

        The sad thing is that you are probably right. As long as you’re middle class white christian, you are considered to be the living idea of the American dream, and that alone is enough to justify you do whatever comes to your mind. Act “persecuted” when you are called out for spanking a child? Adopt a bunch of special needs children you don’t have the emotional capacity to care for? Think muslims are a threat to the US and should be “sent home”? Sure, it all works as long as you fulfill the three important criteria: Christian. White. Middle class.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1069731366 Karen Cox

        Actually the most important factor is likely that they had already been approved for earlier adoptions. It’s very easy to stay in a bureaucracy once you’ve been approved once, which is what happened here. White middle-class people are more likely to get that first magic approval, thoug, so your point stands.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

        I’m willing to bet they got these kids from other families who had adopted them and found out they couldn’t handle their special needs.

  • Niemand

    They adopted 10 children and four of them died? Four children dying isn’t normal, not even four “severely disabled” children. Certainly not 4 children out of ten who were cleared medically for adoption and placed in the community. Heck, pediatric cancer wards have better survival rates than 60%. What the explicative deleted were the adoption agencies thinking allowing these people to adopt more children even as the ones they had dropped like flies? Didn’t they check on conditions in the house at all?

    • Sheena Young

      Yeah, I can understand and sympathize if four children die from a house fire, or a car crash, or some other tragic event. That kind of a loss should lead to LOTS of counseling for the family (plus other assistance as needed). Four deaths from abuse? Jail time. For anyone responsible. For a very, very long time.

      • Niemand

        And this isn’t a situation like a car crash or fire where all the children died at once. Even then, I’d want an investigation to ensure that the deaths weren’t due to a family not bothering to put in smoke detectors or driving drunk (or texting) before allowing them to adopt any more children. Four deaths separated in time that appear to be “accidents”? That should trigger an investigation. No matter what. One death, no matter how apparently natural and expected should be a huge red flag for an adoption agency. Of course, sometimes children who are sick die. (And children with Down’s are ill-don’t believe the “pro-life” propaganda that claims that they’re just fine: they’ve got multiple medical issues as well as MR.) But the death should trigger an investigation, if only to clear the parents who really are innocent and did their best from further suspicion.

      • Sheena Young

        Oh, I definitely agree with you. No argument here.

      • Sophie

        Small nit-pick, not all children with Down’s Syndrome are ill. As a group they are genetically predisposed to certain medical conditions – heart defects and leukaemia being two – but that doesn’t mean that a child with Down’s can’t be healthy.

      • Niemand

        True. Some children with DS grow up to be adults with DS without major health issues. Some even have normal or near normal IQs. But about 40% have cardiac abnormalities, around 10-20% have GI tract issues, most (over 75%) have eye and ear problems (though this includes issues like astigmatism which is obviously not life threatening), up to half have thyroid issues, up to 3/4 can have sleep apnea and skin disorders, autoimmune diseases are increased, and almost all get dementia by their 5th decade of life.

        In short, while people with DS can certainly live happy and reasonably healthy lives, the “pro-life” claim that women abort fetuses with DS just because they don’t want a kid who won’t make it at Harvard is nonsense.

      • Sophie

        Sorry I wasn’t disagreeing with you, I think that the pro-life movements’ bullying tactics around this issue are so very wrong. Having a child with DS is challenging and if they are sick then it is heart breaking. As a nurse I took care of some DS children who had every condition you mentioned but I also took care of some who only needed grommets or cleft lip repair. I just really hate the misconception of Down’s Syndrome meaning the child will have a short very sick life, because that’s not always the case.

      • Diana Diaz

        Oh no, from your description I think I have down’s syndrome!

    • Niemand

      Correction to myself: I missed that another child later died. They killed FIVE children and they were allowed to keep the others? Why?

      • Anonymous

        As a person very much involved in the case I would suggest that you do not go on “expert” reports, news article and the like. Experts can be paid to say anything and they are. So are so-called “witnesses”. News articles are often times sensationalized just to get a story. One of those children died AFTER they were removed from the Carroll’s home and in foster care. I was in every single one of the hearings with every single one of these children and was called upon as a witness in several of the hearings. The Carrolls were not home when the bleach spill happened. I was the first one there afterward. They were at the hospital having tests run on another of the children. There are many, many wrong “facts” in this article. Please make certain of “facts” before you incite people to anger over falsehoods. If it could have been proven that the Carrolls killed these children it would have been. The prosecutor tried everything in his power to prove it and couldn’t. Children die. Especially those with rare conditions who didn’t have a long life prognoses in the first place. Some far outlived their expected life span as it was. How could regular people get away with four murders with no evidence? And for what gain? They were loosing more of their income each time a child died? Does that make sense? The coroner said Hannah had a cigarette burn on her leg, too. No one in the house smoked. Turns out it was a very scratched up and infected mosquito bite. Btw, pour some bleach on your arm, let it air dry and see what kind of life threatening burn you sustain. I’m not being hateful….just trying to be realistic.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Yes, completely agree. With every word.

      [nitpick] And it’s driving me batty that you used “explicative” instead of “expletive”. Explicative is an adjective that means explanatory, while expletive means a curse word. [/nitpick]

      • Niemand

        Nitpick accepted. (Hangs head in pseudoshame at getting it wrong.)

      • Jolie

        I’m soooo keeping “what the explicative” as an awesome expression…

        (I’m not sure what the deleted explicative was; but it may have been related to genitival organs tee hee hee)

    • staceyjw

      NO ONE cares about adopted kids, especially ones w disabilities. It is horrible and a disgrace, but its true. The agencies see a check, the parents think they are doing gods work, and the public turns a blind eye to these kids “no one wants”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

      …because adoption is not as highly regulated as people believe it to be! It is easy to pass a standard homestudy. All they do is make sure you have a bed for the child and a house that isn’t falling down around you and that is only if the agency is halfway ethical. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that their children were disruptions. There is no regulation of that at all! One family simply signs the child over to another and no one checks the home or anything to make sure they are safe.

      • Kelly

        sure as long as you are some form of mainline christian or mumble mumble christian a couple times a year and you are a straight couple. If you are a gay? If you are of a minority religion? You will find it difficult and in some states *impossible* to adopt.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Tthat probably has to do with the fact that most agencies are church affiliated and that the supply of desirable infants is very small. Everyone wants a womb wet infant.

  • JLB82

    Wow. I don’t even know what to say to this. Truly appalling stuff!

    Thank you, Libby, for bringing all of this to light.

  • Mel

    *shudders* As a teacher, I’ve had to report child abuse and neglect before. My take-away: If CPS has taken kids from a family, terrible things have happened. End of story. If you’ve had CPS remove kids, you have forfeited your ‘right’ to home-school. Your kids deserve to get exposure to other adults who can call CPS or the cops if you decide to torture them again.

    • Melissa T

      Wrong. My parents were falsely accused and the CPS tried to take us away. We fled. They insisted that was proof of guilt. Wrong, wrong and wrong. I personally know five families who were falsely accused and the CPS took the kids away, and I’ve also known families where the kids were being abused and CPS looked into it and did nothing. It’s not a perfect system. There are two sides to every story.

      I am only commenting on the idea that the CPS taking kids away means no homeschooling or that terrible things have happened. Obviously, the above stories are heartbreaking examples of people abusing their freedoms to abuse the children entrusted to them. Which is horrifying, and needs to be addressed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

      CPS removed my stepdaughter from her mom. Nearly 3 years later we’re still fighting to get her out of foster care. Even though we are the non-offending party!

  • Sheena

    An “unfortunate death” is one in which someone dies unexpectedly, in a situation that could only be prevented by advance knowledge — like a house fire or car crash or deadly illness (for which medical treatment was sought). Death from abuse is a crime, not an “unfortunate” death.

  • Niemand

    In the end, HSLDA won the case, and the Carrolls were allowed to homeschool Samuel and Isaiah.

    They killed five children and they were allowed to keep the others? Who thought that was a good idea? This is not simply about a few evil people, it’s a whole system that doesn’t mind leaving children with abusers.

    • Just Jim

      Ever get the feeling the author i snot telling the story accurately?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

      Some social-workers are easily fooled that a family has changed. If they worked their caseplan and had good representation, it’s not surprising they got their surviving children back. Happens all the time because TPR is not based on past behavior but current conditions in the home.

    • Christy

      This is where I’m having a sticking point, myself. HSLDA only defended their right to homeschool, AFTER the courts decided they could keep custody. If they’re okay to have custody, they should be allowed to homeschool. If they’re abusive enough to warrant a cessation of homeschool rights, they should lose custody entirely. That’s not on HSLDA, in this case.

      • tsara

        I dunno, I’d be in favour of a probationary period if an issue concerning the education or well-being of a child or dependent brings the question of the fitness of the parent(s)/caregiver(s) to have custody all the way to court.

        In Canada, at least, a criminal case has to clear a pretty high bar for the Crown to be able to prosecute; even with the verdict being that there is insufficient evidence for the State to justify removing these dependents from the custody of their current caregivers (because loss of custody is treated as an extreme measure that should only be applied in cases where there is extensive positive proof of criminal wrongdoing [95% sure]), the fact that the case made it to court at all means that substantial harm has come to the dependent(s) and that that harm either was or appeared to be the result of action or inaction on the part of the caregiver(s), and the main thing that the trial would be looking in to is the extent of the legal criminal responsibility of the caregiver(s).

        I think a few restrictions should be put on caregivers who fail that badly. Obviously, we should assume the best intentions, but mandating some remedial parenting classes; an inspection of the physical environment in which the dependent is living with recommended changes [within some set limit] to be mandatory [and, ideally, funded by the government]; filing statements of intent and itineraries before leaving the state or country before a set length of time has passed; regular home visits for a set time period from a CPS worker or child development counsellor or some equivalent; regular physician checkups; and limiting school options to those with a minimum of some set number of students, some set number of mandatory reporters, counselling services, and a school nurse or physical health care provider with a set minimum amount of training and available facilities.

        (Basically: Abuse and negligence are both criminal charges, and are therefore subject to the standards applying to criminal cases. Criminal cases are not like custody disputes, and require proof of criminal responsibility beyond a reasonable doubt or a verdict that the accused cannot be held criminally responsible for anything [i.e., a verdict of criminally unfit, or something to that effect. This will result in indefinite incarceration in a psychiatric hospital.]. The standard of proof for criminal responsibility is generally referred to as the ‘reasonable person’ standard: is the harm to the dependent something that a reasonable person would assume to be the result of the accused’s actions or inaction? This is a high standard; if a reasonable person would have predicted that the accused’s plan [action(s), inaction, whatever] would go incredibly badly, that is insufficient.)

        (I should also note: it is my understanding that all criminal cases in Canada are Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth vs. [name and/or title of the accused]. If I’m correct, this may have an effect on standards of evidence for a criminal case’s admittance into court: criminal prosecution lawyers work for the government, and cannot be paid to prosecute by corporations or private citizens. This means that any case a Crown prosecutor takes has to meet government standards in order for the lawyer to be paid for their work, so you will not have prosecutors lobbying [on their clients' dime] for their clients’ cases to be picked up by a judge unless they genuinely feel strongly about the case.)

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        It’s actually not an either/or thing like that. CPS makes keeping families together a priority, and when it places children back with their parents, it operates under the assumption that school aged children will be seen daily by teachers who can notice if problems worsen or return. In fact, there are many cases where CPS will return parents to their children but order that they be kept under additional supervision, as was the case with the Carrolls. If you want to argue that CPS has to either take children away entirely or allow parents complete control over their children with zero supervision or contact with mandatory reporters, you can, but that’s not the situation at present and it’s not how CPS operates.

  • Christine

    This seems like it would do more harm than good for the HSLDA. If you want to show that homeschooling is a responsible thing for parents to do, shouldn’t you not be holding up abusive parents as exemplars? I’m not talking about the “how on earth do you defend this sort of horrible thing”. This is strictly a Realpolitik, “if you can do it it’s right”, type thing. If you want it to be easier for people to homeschool, don’t try to connect homeschooling with children dying.

    • NeaDods

      You’d think, but the gun rights people are making pretty much the same argument in the same way – the slightest regulation is IMPOSSIBLE and EVIL and when members go wrong and kill someone it’s some horrible mistake or accident or just a “mistakes were made” avoidance of blame.

      • Christine

        See, even the crazy gun rights people at least try to distance themselves from the killers.

        Turning a blind eye I can see. Defending people because they paid you money to do so I can see. Using any tricks you can in court to do so I can, unfortunately, see. But it’s when you start bragging about it that I get confused. Perhaps it is like the gun rights cases, where the HSLDA core supporters believe so strongly that giving parents total control is good that anything disagrees with the premise must be false. But they’ve taken it even further, because instead of having exceptions to that rule, which don’t really mean anything and can be ignored, it’s true in all cases.

  • Rilian Sharp

    I guess they are thinking about that thing from the bible where it’s totally ok to beat a slave as long as they don’t die *right away*. And children are considered as slaves, saying they own them and such.

    • Rilian Sharp

      I mean, it must be that kind of thinking for them ti refer to it as unfortunate deaths.

      • Niemand

        And they seem to be in considerably more trouble than the probably white parents who murdered five adoptive children. I’m glad that the children they abused are being taken away, but the difference between how they were treated and how the Carrolls were treated is significant.

      • Niemand

        Oops. This response should have been to Feminerd, above.

  • smrnda

    This is the most disgusting thing I’ve read in a long time, and all said, anybody who gives money to HSLDA or associates with them is complicit in murder. It’s obvious that they are not at all simply an organization meant to protect families who home school but active enablers and celebrants of homicidal child abuse. I mean, by all means, advocate for home schooling families, but this doesn’t require you to consider every home schooling family as being in the right. You can both support the right to home school AND be of the opinion that certain parents shouldn’t have the right. They shouldn’t even defend parents who abuse kids.

    All said, the usual mentality I get from Christians, and the more conservative the more they hold this belief, is that Christians are never lying but the evil, godless secular world is always persecuting good Christians.

    If these weren’t white Christian families, the parents would all be in jail.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      The last case, the Johnsons, are black.

      I don’t know whether to call it progress or not when one’s religion can trump one’s race in the “good or bad people” snap decisions people make …

    • Fina

      You can’t really support a right to homeschool in a christian way and be against abuse. It’s not compatible, because christian homeschooling* IS abuse.
      It involves isolation (keeping your children from interacting with non-christians and others you disaprove off), dependency (keeping them, especially girls, from developing skills that would allow them to support themselves without you), brainwashing (using such techniques to reinforce the above)and physical abuse (“spanking”=hitting).

      So restricting their homeschooling advocacy to non-abusive ways to do it would exclude most (if not nearly all) of their members.

      *referring to the Christian Homeschool Movement, in the spirit of Patriarchy (Pearls et al), not any christian who homeschools.

      • Just jim

        Never met an actual home school family, I guess.
        Don’t bother lying about how you have personally met so many and you are perfectly accurate. I don’t belong to the HSLDA, but I know may home school families, and what you said here is pure trash.

      • Fina

        Well yes, i have never personally met a homeschooling family in my entire life. I never stated that i did, while i did state that i am from Germany – where not sending your children to public or a registered private school is illegal.

        However, i DO know quite a bit about abuse. Just reading the literature of christian homeschoolers, this blog and various others tells me about lots of things that are abusive.

        If abusive behavior is a core element of your belief system, then following that obviously makes your own behavior abusive. In other words, if your homeschooling doctrine includes child-beating, emotional dependency and brainwashing techniques – then its abusive.

  • Fina

    Another issue:

    In lots of cases, adoption does not go to child-less couples.
    Instead, under the reasoning that they have already shown that they can take care of a child, children are adopted by couples who already have children of their own.

    Now there isn’t anything wrong with that reasoning per se – it’s just that other factors are often ignored.

    Disturbing though it may be, its not uncommon that an adopted child just isn’t treated as ones own child – this is more likely if you already have children on your own, since it establishes a contrast between the two.
    Factors that can already happen in non-adoptive families – children being different, thus one not meeting expectations established by the other etc. – are amplified. The parents haven’t witnessed all the development of the adopted child (more aggravating the older the child is). And of course the child has often gone through troubling times and has related issues your own children likely don’t have (that’s why its getting adopted in the first place.

    Being a good parent to your natural children does not guarantee that you are a good child to your adopted children!

    Adoption agencies are also facing difficulties in finding new adoptive families. Those need to be tested, its not easy to remove a child if the family turns out to be unable to handle the adoptive child – its hard on the child, there may be legal issues with it etc. – and funds might be short too.
    That makes relying on already-proven adoptive families very tempting – especially if the (already proven) adoptive parents claim they can handle more children.

    Last but not least, a lot of potential childless couples are ruled out for a variety of discriminatory reasons: religion (especially with religious adoption agencies), race (because a white child with black parents or such might be seen as an issue) and of course sexual orientation (can’t have gays adopting!).

    Especially the latter is an issue, because the pool of childless heterosexual couples is relatively small (most people are fertile enough to get pregnant with assistance after all, and if you can afford to adopt you can afford assisted fertilization too).

    • Little Magpie

      Actually several families I know with adopted children were childless beforehand. In specific to your last comment… sometimes there are medical reasons that pregnancy can’t happen: One family I know (with 3 adopted kids, who have done wonderfully, the oldest is ?20ish IIRC and the youngest 13), the mum had a hysterectomy for medical reasons. So, short of surrogacy… Also, I imagine there are some couples who, facing infertility issues, would prefer to go the adoption route rather than put themselves through increasingly unpleasant and invasive medical interventions.

      • Fina

        Oh i’m not saying it doesn’t happen! Sorry if that was implied by my comment. Nor was it meant to imply that any of this always happens – it CAN, its something to be aware of, but lots of adoptive parents are wonderful caring people who couldn’t be better parents. And some are just mediocre parents too – but some are bad parents, and we should be aware of the reasons why if we try to limit the amount of bad adoptive parents.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

      Not all adoptions are agency facilitated. Private adoptions are not regulated at all. It’s very common for children with special needs to be shuffled from one family to another.

    • John Alexander Harman

      There’s a flip side to that, as well: adopted children whose backgrounds include abuse or neglect (which the adoption agency may not have informed the adoptive parents about, either because they didn’t know themselves or because they were desperate to place the children) can be dangerous to their adoptive parents and siblings. I recall a “My Turn” (reader-submitted) article in Newsweek some years ago from a woman who had adopted a little boy from a Russian orphanage at the age of (IIRC) eight; he acted out in various violent ways, including raping the couple’s six-year-old biological daughter when he was twelve.

  • WordSpinner

    Why did CPS give the children back to the child murderers in the first place?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001411188910 Lucreza Borgia

      They probably worked their case-plan and made a good show for the judge.

  • Garrett Mullet

    I think one safe thing to say after reading the above is that abusive parents shouldn’t be able to hide behind being Christians or homeschooling.

    On the other hand, allegations can’t be confused with proof, or else our justice system would completely collapse into people being convicted as quickly as they’re accused. All you’d have to do to someone you didn’t like was trump up charges.

    And really, what’s the take-away? Are all homeschooling families suspect because of these instances? Or should we deprive all parents accused of child abuse of legal representation? That isn’t a sustainable plan, surely.

    On the other hand, I think it’s a point well-taken that we should refrain from calling someone a hero just because they’re adopting and/or homeschooling. Those actions don’t override abuse to make a monster into a saint.

    I’ve always said that homeschooling is what you make it. That can have beautiful implications, but it can also have very ugly implications. The fact of the matter is that parents can and do abuse children they send to public schools, but I also recognize that it’s probably easier to hide abuse if you’re keeping your victims confined to the home at all times.

    In any case, it’s very sad.

    • Rosa

      No one is suggesting not allowing parents to have legal representation. The underlying argument of this entire series of articles is that we need some basic regulation for homeschoolers, to try to prevent cases like this, and the HSLDA has consistently fought against even very basic requirements like basic testing or even registering as homeschoolers.

    • Niemand

      Are all homeschooling families suspect because of these instances?

      I’d say yes, with caveats. A possibly over-the-top analogy: Most people who take knives on planes aren’t planning to hijack the plane and run it into a building. But because someone was, we can’t take knives onto planes any longer. Because there is a risk and we as a society have decided that we’d rather lose the freedom to carry knives onto planes than risk more skyscrapers.

      In the same way, I’d claim that instances like this suggest that home schooling families should be subject to mandatory intermittent monitoring by CPS. Not because most will be abusive but because the consequences of letting a few abusers run rampant are too high and the inconvenience to the non-abusive families is minimal. Just show that the kids have beds not cages, take them to checkups once a year to show that they’re well fed and don’t have unexplained injuries, and show that they’re being taught in an age appropriate manner and you’re done.

      Ideally, I think the inspections should come with advice on dealing with problems and offers of assistance, not just the threat of consequences if things are wrong. If a child seems to be behind in reading, for example, perhaps screening for vision issues and dyslexia could be offered. Or anger management for children who can’t control their tempers. Or offers of respite care if the caregivers seem frazzled. There are lots of ways to make this system good for everyone-except abusive parents.

      • KB

        Would it be ok if ALL families were subject to a CPS investigation? You know just to make sure all the children in the USA were being raised just right. It’s to invasive, and you know that. If its not please let me judge how you live your life, how you are as a spouse, a parent. Let me judge if you are the perfect child. I’m sure I could get a job with CPS.

        Child abuse is just that, child abuse. It does not matter if a parent is beating a child in the name of God, in a fury, in a drunken rage, or flying higher than a kite. It should be handled with the child’s best interest at heart. I also believe that CPS should be held to a high standard.

        These cases are not the norm for homeschoolers, just like other abuse case are not the norm for public school families.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    What’s crazy is that you found those court cases right on their sight, and journalists for all these years haven’t written up on this. HSLDA should have been exposed a long time ago.

  • Vanessa

    Just to clarify, regarding the three cases cited, is the assumption that HSLDA had knowledge of what was going on? That the lawyer assigned to represent the parents saw evidence that abuse was happening but chose to ignore it because of an overriding concern for parental rights that trumped child safety? Is that the thinking?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I think that HSLDA reflexively believes the parents and disbelieves the accusations against them. I don’t know for sure what the HSLDA lawyers saw or knew, or what they would consider “abuse” or not, but I think they come to cases like this ready to believe whatever explanation an abusive parent might provide, especially if that parent identifies as a Good Christian (TM), and predisposed to believe that accusations against homeschooling parents are trumped up and invented in an effort to persecute homeschoolers and/or Christians.

      • Sarah M

        “I don’t know for sure what the HSLDA lawyers saw or knew, or what they would consider “abuse” or not….”

        Sounds like most of your article is hearsay then…. haven’t spent much time on your blog, but you clearly don’t have an understanding of how legal advocacy groups work. They fight for specific constitutional positions and rights (cf: ACLU) and that doesn’t mean they always (or even often) agree with the actual decisions certain clients make. Do you think the ACLU agrees with the ideological positions of the Westboro Baptist Church protesters?

      • Nathaniel Winer

        The Westboro Baptist Church hasn’t killed anyone. The ACLU protects the right of people to say what they want, no matter how loathsome. That’s a bit different than supporting the right of someone to kill children.

      • Sarah M

        Who is supporting the rights of parents to kill children? Even our illustrious author of this wonderful article didn’t make such a ridiculous claim….

      • NeaDods

        Sarah M – HSLDA is supporting the rights of parents, even abusive parents who have killed other of their own children, to isolate and abuse the rest of their children under the guise of “homeschooling” without any public oversight. That position directly results in dead children, whether it is “intended” to or not. Being rude to Libby Anne doesn’t change a single fact in the court cases cited.

      • Sarah M

        Who is advocating for “right of someone to kill children?”

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        You clearly don’t understand what I meant by “I don’t know for sure what they would consider “abuse.”” I said that because HSLDA is on record defending parents’ ability to beat their children until they leave excessive bruising and welts. So HSLDA’s definition of “child abuse” differs from that of the average person. The reason I said I didn’t know what they would consider “abuse” is that I would assume that HSLDA lawyers would, say, consider burning a child with bleach to be abuse, but since they’ve never actually *defined* abuse I don’t have any way of knowing that for sure.

        As for the rest, I don’t think you understand how HSLDA works. They defend the rights of parents to homeschool. They’re not *supposed* to be defending child abusers. And even if they were, do you really think it makes any sense to compare defending people who batter children to defending people’s right to free speech? Also, you might want to read around my blog a bit more, especially the posts on HSLDA, before you assume you know anything about me. Because you don’t.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Two more things. First, does the ACLU call the Westboro Baptist Church “heroes”? Second, defending people’s right to free speech is NOT the same as defending people’s right to carry out child abuse.

      • Sarah M

        Who is advocating for someone’s right to carry out child abuse?

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I thought we were clear that HSLDA was defending these people? Also, here’s a link that you might find interesting: HSLDA’s Defense of Child Abuse.

      • Sarah M

        Thank you for citing your own work as a defense of your previous statements. So far I have perused your writings hoping for rational thought and facts- but instead of have unfortunately been left with the rantings of a deluded person who is angry at anyone who believes anything she doesn’t like.

        You accept as fact all accusations against those whom you have not met but choose to dislike. And you then proceed to vilify advocacy groups who support parental rights such as homeschooling that you don’t like. In many cases even a jury or state run CPS agency would not agree with your factual conclusions – and yet you use your own biased conclusions as the basis for judging a group that advocates a position you disagree with.

        Nowhere have you offered any proof that HSLDA supports or defends child abuse(rs). They have simply represented their clients’ interests in being able to maintain custody of their children and direct their education. If you had ANY understanding of legal ethics, or the legal system as whole, you would not write something so blatantly foolish.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        You have clearly not read my comments policy, which states that personal attacks are not allowed here. You are not allowed to personally attack men or anyone else here on my blog. If you do anything like that again, I will ban you.

        Now, you suggest that I accept as fact all accusations against those I don’t like, but this confuses me given that both the Gravelles and the Carrolls were convicted. The Carrolls were not convicted of pouring the bleach on their daughter because that is how our justice system works, but I made it clear that even then, leaving Hannah to suffer from severe burns for days without seeking treatment, which they were, is quite enough to disqualify anyone from calling them a “loving Christian couple” who suffered the “unfortunate death” of four of their children. As for the Jacksons, you are correct that that trial is ongoing. But your suggestion that everything here is just heresay or accepting accusations without question suggests that you did not actually read my post.

        Next, you’re making me laugh here, because I have offered several very specific proof “that HSLDA supports or defends child abuse(ers).” You’re also making me laugh because you then directly contradict yourself by stating that it doesn’t matter, that they should simply represent any client’s best interests and we shouldn’t blame them for that—without apparently realizing that that might extent to them defending child abusers. So you seem to be stating first that this is something HSLDA does not do, and second that even if HSLDA does it it’s just fine.

        As for my proof, did you not catch that the Carrolls were convicted of child abuse and then HSLDA proceeded to defend their right to homeschool? This is “defending child abusers.” Second, did you not read about HLSDA’s opposition to a law in Florida that would have banned hitting a child so as to cause “excessive bruising or welts,” and their opposition to a law in Mississippi that would have required that corporal punishment be “reasonable”? If that’s not defending child abuse, I don’t know what is.

        As for them simply defending their clients’ interests, if that’s so, then I don’t see why you have a problem with what I said here in this post. After all, who are their clients? The parents, not the children. In my conclusion, I said:

        It becomes increasingly clear that HSLDA doesn’t care a flying fig about children. All HSLDA cares about is the organization’s beloved idol, “parental rights.”

        It sounds like you’re agreeing with that, that HSLDA is just out to defend anyone and everyone’s right to homeschool, even if they’re child abusers and even if homeschooling isn’t in children’s best interests. If that is so, then we who are the children of homeschooling should absolutely treat HSLDA as contempt, because the organization never cared a thing for our best interests.

        You state “they have simply represented their clients’ interests in being able to maintain custody of their children and direct their education.” Including clients who are child abusers? Including cases where homeschooling flies in the face of individual children’s best interests? It sounds to me like what I said was right—HSLDA doesn’t appear to actually care about children. They only care about ensuring that any and every parent, regardless of their competence, is able to homeschool. And that, quit simply, is a problem.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Which of my factual conclusions would a jury or CPS disagree with? You act as though I’m the one only making assertions . . .

      • Heatherjanes

        Actually, advocacy groups champion the aims of their target population. I would venture to say that HSLDA has a target population problem. Is HSLDA’s target population homeschooling parents or homeschooling parents wh may very well like to abuse their kids if they so choose and still be lauded as “heroes?” If its the first one, I’d say they certainly have some work to do to get back on track. If its the second one, they’re on right on point. Obviously the HSLDA never intended to advocate for homeschooled children or they wouldn’t be so quick to say beating them with objects until they are bruised is an excellent thing to lawfully allow.

        Also, I am speaking as someone who was homeschooled and experienced neglect and abuse in that environment. I knew that the HSLDA advocated for hiding from social workers to hide corporal punishment from my own personal experience but I didn’t know they’d go this far or be this sloppy. It is truly shocking and awful. Shame on them and shame on you for making excuses for their bad behavior. This is not just some abstract “legal advocacy” thing. These are real children’s lives.

  • Defuser

    All I have to say is what they do to the kids are wrong, but why we’re 2 of 3 of the stories use “Christians”? there a lot of other examples that shows mans horrific abuse on children without the “Christian” part. A true follower of God would not inflict such pain on their children. By putting “Christian” in the mix it can be assumed that people will think following God is like following abusive parents.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Well, given that HSLDA is a Christian organization, it shouldn’t be surprised that when the defend child abusers, it’s *Christian* child abusers. Also, I was raised by parents who believed that God required them to hit me if I so much as talked back to them, so yes, sometimes Christianity does get mixed up in child abuse. If you don’t like that, go tell of people like HSLDA or my parents, not me.

    • Niemand

      That’s how HSLDA is describing them: as “good Christians”. Presumably this organization–which is defending the abusive parents-thinks that their religion is significant.

    • Fanraeth

      I see this argument brought up every time a Christian does something horrible. Strangely, people never seem eager to extend the same courtesy to Islam when a Muslim does something horrible.

    • Nancy Shrew

      I think we have all had our fill of No True Scotsman crap to last a lifetime.

    • Alice

      Because the families self-identified as Christians. Besides, Christians already have a mountain of bad PR so two more stories won’t make much difference.

  • Jane

    Why are they adopting so many special needs children in the first place? Do they want to have them as a sort of status symbol or something?

    • Adoptedmomof4

      Some states pay adoption subsidies (similar to payments for foster care) for a special needs adopted child, often until the child is 21. So money could be a reason.

    • http://www.facebook.com/katherine.hompes Katherine Hompes

      Unfortunately, I think you have hit the nail on the head, there. “Look, we are such good, charitable Christian people! Just look at all of the special needs kids we took in. We didn’t have to, you know”.

      The kids are a status symbol. Also, I have a feeling that these “parents” tend to regard the kids as somewhat less than human. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

    • Alice

      I agree with the money and status theories, but it could also be because the parents saw special needs children as easier to control. If they have physical limitations, it’s harder for them to fight back or escape, and if they have mental limitations then they’re less likely to tell someone or be believed. Abusers look for children who are especially vulnerable.

    • Whirlwitch

      As someone who looked into adoption very seriously before my health and ability issues increased, I can tell you that, frankly, the less desirable a child is, the more relaxed the requirements for the adopting family become. “Ideal” families get “ideal” children (healthy white newborns), and the hierarchy descends from there.

      It’s one reason same-sex parents often adopt special-needs children, because these are the children they’re most likely to be “allowed” to have. In many parts of the US, the first time same-sex couples were cleared for adoption was when agencies needed to place HIV+ children, and nobody else would touch them.

      I’m describing a trend, not an absolute, and people adopt the children they do for various reasons, but it is a factor. I have heard a good bit about abusive fundamentalists adopting large numbers of children overseas because of lack of oversight. If you lack the cash or inclination for international adoption, in some places, with some agencies, special-needs adoption might have something of the same appealing dynamic.

  • ILoveJellybeans

    I think that the HSLDA support child abuse (as long as the abusers are Christian), as much as they say they think child abuse is wrong, but parents should be allowed to spank their children and use “reasonable” physical punishments, where is the line between spanking and abuse for them?

    Surely keeping children in cages, pouring bleach on them and depriving them of food and water to the point where theyre so desperate they try drinking from the toilet has crossed that line.
    If thats not abuse for them, I dont want to think about what actually is.

    • Nancy Shrew

      Sending them to public school?

  • Saraquill

    I can understand if an attorney is appointed by the court to defend people like this. What mystifies me is why anyone would choose to defend child torturers, to the point of calling them “heroes.”

    • Fina

      I actually greatly respect lawyers who chose to defend people no matter what they did. Having a lawyer is essential to our justice system – so by defending a known mass-murderer, a lawyer does his part on upholding our justice system.

      Now granted, that “heroes” statement was most likely too much, or rather done because he genuinely agreed with them rather than because he is one of those lawyers who defend anyone.

      • Alice

        That made me think of something: does the HSLDA membership contract allow HSLDA to turn down a home-schooling case if they don’t want to take it, or do they have to defend any of their members since all the members are paying the membership fee for legal services (in case the need arises)? It doesn’t really matter since they are obviously agreeing with the abuse rather than just upholding the justice system, but I was just curious because I don’t know much about law. Or even if they are not contractually obligated, they might feel like they have to take every case they can so their members won’t feel cheated. And they probably are so all-or-nothing about home-schooling regulations because they don’t want legal precedents to be established, even though some parents CLEARLY should not home-school. By NO means am I defending HSLDA, but just curious about this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.marie Melody Jones

    I remember my parents reading HSLDA news stories like this to me when HSLDA newsletters arrived. Looking back on everything, I am seriously not okay with how whole-heartedly my parents endorsed the HSLDA party line.

    That the Carrolls’ only conviction was for child neglect, and that their only ‘punishment’ was for five years probation and a ban on further adoptions unless approved by the court (which means that it wasn’t completely banned omgwtfnonononono) is incomprehensible to me.

    • Whirlwitch

      For the Carrolls: Life sentences, At least. For multiple charges of second/third degree murder. Although I wouldn’t be opposed to capital punishment if it could be made to stick.

  • Pingback: Who Are HSLDA’s “Clients”? Not the Children.

  • Composer 99

    The cases discussed in this post – the abuse, the neglect, the vileness of the so-called “parents” – make me feel rage. Unquenchable, burning, white hot rage.

  • Lauralee Moss

    All the other commenters said it. This is heart wrenching. Again, thanks for writing about this.

  • staceyjw

    Almost EVERY child was ADOPTED!!!
    I am sick, but not surprised. Adoptees are the first to be abused and killed in a family situation.
    I have HAD IT with people that promote adoption, especially ones in this culture. Even in the best cases, adoption is filled with pain, why promote this?

    • Niemand

      Not even to mention the lifelong depression experienced by the vast majority of women who relinquish a child for adoption. Honestly, I’m not at all sad that there are few babies on the adoption market. That means fewer to be abused or neglected by “good Christian” families who just want their check from CPS or their bragging rights.

  • Just Jim

    In the interest of fairness, I read what the HSLDA had to say in response, and they say they never even represented two of the three cases, and as for the third, argued only on the right to home school, after the other charges had been settled in court.

    You can say they are lying, but one wonders about Ms. Anne’s motivations here. The whole thing has the feel of a hatchet job, not an exposé.

    • Christine

      Ok, and what does the fact that the HSLDA didn’t represent these people in court have to do with the point of this post? I would argue that it makes the problems that Libby Anne is complaining about even worse – statements like that are sometimes used to try and sway public opinion in the hopes that it might help the verdict go in a better way. If the HSLDA had no reason to support these people, then it starts to look more questionable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottiemoser Scottie Moser

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this already, but someone just brought it to my attention. Apparently, HSLDA put out an official response to your blog post on their Facebook page, denying involvement in two cases and insisting they only defended the family’s right to homeschool in the other.
    https://www.facebook.com/hslda/posts/10151560043473419

  • Vera I. Parson

    I think the above writer ‘Needs’ to check her sources and stop hedging on non-factual allegations. Some might think you are a troll.

    • NeaDods

      What is non-factual about citing newspaper articles? Which websites do you consider less biased? What about quoting the HSLDA itself is trollish? Citations needed.

  • Michelle

    Very nice article! Full of inaccuracies, twists and partial disclosures, it would be perfect journalism for a tabloid! Congrats!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Very nice comment! It runs afoul of my commenting policy! If you want to argue that there are inaccuracies, twists, or partial disclosures, you need to actually point them out!

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      You know, unsubstantiated accusations are not the sign of a thinking mind. If the post is full of inaccuracies, twists, and partial disclosures, why not point some of that out instead of just dashing off a sentence or three that have neither relevant arguments nor contradictory data?

      EDIT: Bah, Libby Anne said it better.

  • Pingback: I’ve Had Enough: My Reply to HSLDA’s Response

  • Pingback: Demanding an Answer from HSLDA | Becoming Worldly

  • Pingback: The HSLDA and Abuse: More Denial and Deflection | anthonybsusan

  • Roxie

    I bet that the HSLDA people are among the people who want to see little kids hurt by monstrous parents (AKA child abusers) and that just makes me sick to my stomach. I believe that those selfish HSLDA whackjobs need a reality check.

  • Pingback: Homeschoolers, Christians, HSLDA..We must do better. Kids are being abused.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.crawford.182 Kelly Crawford

    This is absolutely sickening. Everyone of these people deserves to be in prison for the REST of their lives!

  • Princess

    I think it is disingenuous to claim you are concerned that homeschooled
    children receive an education, while the majority of public school
    children receive a mediocre or poor education. Is that also a concern of
    yours? I might add that I possess a bias of enduring a horrible public
    school experience, and I attended the “good,” schools in the “good,”
    neighborhood.

    Children attending public schools can be abused by their parents, as well as staff and other students? Is this also a concern of yours? What about the epidemic of bullying that has led to suicides? Is it not child-abuse to place a child in that environment? Why pick a handful of hs famiies as your example, when thousands of ps children face abuse?

    A friend of a friend stopped over, who was a VP at a local high school.
    After speaking with my children for a few minutes, she exclaimed, “Your
    children must be homeschooled; they are so articulate and have such a
    good vocabulary.” They also weren’t afraid to speak to an adult nor rude
    to one.

    I did have CPS show up once, It turned out a neighbor who disliked my
    husband and his interference with the HOA was the culprit. I didn’t
    speak to the social worker, except to ask her to leave unless she could
    produce a warrant. She tried threatening me that she didn’t need a
    warrant. She intercepted my husband who had just arrived home and
    attempted to get him to sign a document that would release MY medical
    records. She said she could claim the house was dirty as a reason for a
    warrant. (Toys, school work and crumbs were on the floor)

    My younger son has Aspergers. You often hear the, “Children with
    Aspergers need socialization.” Yes, they need positive socialization,
    with peers that are loving and accepting, in limited and sometimes
    supervised doses. Not the sort of socialization that leads them to feel
    rejected and that they are freaks, as some of my friends experience with
    their children.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Huh, I got that too, the thing about being articulate and having a good vocabulary. And I said, “nope, I just read a lot!” Which was true, I did read a lot. I also went to public schools my entire life (with the exception of time spent overseas in a country where I barely spoke the language- then I did correspondence courses through UT to get high school credits).

      Most homeschooled kids are from families that are upper middle class, white, and two-parent. They’ll generally do well no matter where they go to school, because they have so many sociological advantages. Public schools are not perfect, but no one claims they are. People do claim that homeschool is perfect, the answer to public school failures, and then use it to try to rob public schools of public funding. That false claim must be answered, and Libby Anne has done so.

      Homeschooling is far from perfect, and in many cases it is worse than public schooling. It can be better, but in my experience, it probably won’t be. No one I know had the horrific, abusive experiences of many of the people here, but they did come out awkward, unable to socialize with peers, and with giant gaping holes in their education. Whatever their parents were bad at, they were bad at, because they didn’t have the benefit of multiple teachers teaching their specialty. I would never want to transmit my flaws with physics and vectors to my (hypothetical future) children; I want them to learn from people who DO understand that, and DO love the subject. That means not homeschooling.

      • Princess

        Obviously, you need to make whatever decision you feel is right for your hypothetical future children. Since you weren’t homeschooled and don’t homeschool, perhaps you are unaware of the many options available. There is an incredible array of materials and resources, classes, co-ops, trade-offs, activities, field trips; there is actually so much we had to cut back. We are in the demographic you mentioned, but when I began homeschooling my sons, we weren’t there yet. As mentioned, it wouldn’t make sense that Ivies recruit students who are “awkward, unable to socialize with peers, and with giant gaping holes in their education.” Do you believe that professional teachers understand and love their subject necessarily? One thing I enjoyed most about teaching my children is that I could learn along with them, as I love learning. Your children will inherit some of your proclivities and weaknesses. When I was pregnant with my older son, my husband said he hoped he would have my singing voice and his golf game, and not the other way around. That one worked out, but neither child is a math genius like my husband; they inherited my mediocrity in the subject. Everyone is a perfect parent before they have their own kids.

    • Shayna

      Yeah, my mom likes to tell stories about me being able to hold full, actual conversations with adults before I even started school. Articulate and good vocabulary? Check. And guess what? I was public schooled K-12 and in day care before that (the horror! /s). As with Feminerd, I read voraciously and still do. Your family has a lot more to do with your academic success than whether you were public, private, or home schooled.

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  • with held

    I knew the Carroll family, they were part of our church and homeschool support group during the time of the deaths. I was a teenager and totally bought into the story the family told. I attended hearings in support and even went to the home the day after one of the children’s death to help with the other children. I can say that the home appeared to be in good order, but looks can be deceiving.
    Reading this make me physically ill. There are facts here that I knew nothing about! Actually, 20 plus years later and out of the isolated box I was in and having a clue now, reading this filled in the blanks for me.
    James was found not guilty…but why couldn’t he live at home? As a kid I just accepted it. They hate him because he’s a Christian and/or homeschooler. Now knowing better…
    I know one of the boys chocked on his vomit in bed and died. Now working in the medical field I know there are precautions that are taken to prevent that, if they’d been careful to follow those…
    OMG!! I supported these people. God forgive me…

  • Melody

    I was 9 or 10 when the Carol case went to court and my family and friends were at the courthouse. What we were told was that the oldest son was watching the children at the time it happened, the girl pulled down a bucket of bleach and it poured all over her. A tragic accident. But that’s what everyone who was there supporting the Carols believed it was at the time.I seriously doubt HSLDA believed any differently. I’m sure none of those people would have been out there if they’d known the truth.

  • B.E. Miller

    Have you seen this article, where two of the kids are suing the Gravelles?
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-5413621-504083.html

    PS for those who feel that there are too many inaccuracies in Libby Anne’s articles? She always provides links to external articles. And if these links are not enough for you, then just do what I do; hit google and find MOAR articles to back things up.

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