HSLDA Opposes Measure to Reduce School Violence

I just came upon an Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) legislative alert about a pending bill in Mississippi. Here is their summary:

Summary:

This bill would create the Safe2Tell Program whereby students and members of the community could make anonymous reports about the safety and welfare of school students. Broadly applied, this legislation would permit anyone to make such a report against a homeschooling family. This would also encourage the making of false reports and result in more unwarranted investigations of home educators.

HSLDA’s Position:

Oppose.

This bill was created in an effort to curb violence and bullying in school, and to make obtaining help from child protective services more accessible to public school children. Let’s look at some of what the text of the bill actually says:

(1) The Mississippi Legislature hereby finds  and declares that:

(a) According to the United States Secret Service and Department of Education, in eighty-one percent (81%) of dangerous or violent incidents in schools, someone other than the attacker knew the incident was going to happen but did not  report or act on that knowledge. Additionally, in incidents of targeted school violence, most attackers engaged in some behavior before the incident that caused others concern or indicated a need for help;

(b) The ability to anonymously report information  about unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities before or after they have occurred is critical in reducing, responding to and recovering from these types of events in schools;

(c) The Safe2Tell Program empowers students and the community, by offering a comprehensive program of education, awareness, training and a readily accessible tool that allows  students and the community, to easily provide anonymous information about unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities, or the threat of these activities, to appropriate law enforcement and public safety agencies and school officials;

(d) The Safe2Tell Program has a proven record of success in prevention and intervention in cases of threats to people or property, assaults, bullying, child abuse, substance abuse, cutting, suicide, gangs, weapons, Internet safety or other unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities; and

(e) The Safe2Tell Program serves as a community partner in the school response framework, and the program may engage in information sharing and interoperable communications with other community partners as part of a coordinated response to a school-related incident.

HSLDA is opposing this bill. Why? Because it would make it easier to report violence and abuse, and someone might report suspicions of abuse in homeschool families they know. Let me quote from HSLDA’s summary again:

This bill would create the Safe2Tell Program whereby students and members of the community could make anonymous reports about the safety and welfare of school students. Broadly applied, this legislation would permit anyone to make such a report against a homeschooling family. This would also encourage the making of false reports and result in more unwarranted investigations of home educators.

Somehow I must have missed the part where this bill encourages people to make false reports. Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t. And about unwarranted investigations—child protective services investigates all cases where credible reports were made, and if it turns out that they find no evidence of abuse or neglect, they find the report unsubstantiated and make no further intervention. There is nothing unwarranted about investigating reports of child abuse or neglect. It appears, though, that HSLDA can’t hear of a bill that would remove barriers to reporting suspicions of abuse without immediately insisting that it would result in more false reports and unwarranted investigations.

But the thing that really gets me is that this bill is explicitly not about homeschooling in any way shape or form. This bill is about protecting public school children from school violence, including things like school shootings, and making it easier for public school children to report child abuse or neglect. But that doesn’t matter to HSLDA. Instead of accepting that such a bill might be a positive thing for the safety and wellbeing of public school students, HSLDA is opposing the bill because they are convinced it will in practice “encourage” people to make false reports against homeschool families.

HSLDA’s insistence on tilting at windmills might actually be kind of funny if the windmills it’s tilting at weren’t vulnerable children.

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.


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