Government Oversight and Preventing Child Abuse

Government Oversight and Preventing Child Abuse January 23, 2018

One of the knee-jerk reactions to the Turpin family child abuse case is to call for closer scrutiny of homeschoolers.  Otherwise, how will anyone be able to know if these children are being neglected or abused?  Let’s see what the Washington Post has to contribute:

Not long after the family arrived in Fort Worth, an older girl tried to run away but was returned by a local resident, Vinyard, the Turpins’ former neighbor, told the L.A. Times. He said he and his wife thought about reporting the Turpins to the authorities but feared the repercussions, in part because David Turpin was armed.

The Turpin family moved to California in 2010. So neighbors were noticing abuse and not reporting it . . . seven years ago.  After the family moved away, the neighbors still declined to contact the authorities, despite ample physical evidence that an investigation was in order:

Once the family moved, their house was foreclosed. The man who bought the house, Billy Baldwin, found a stack of Polaroids from when the Turpins lived there. One showed a bed with a rope tied to its metal rail, he told the L.A. Times.

Vinyard recalls walking through the family’s trailer, which was “waist-deep in filth. There were dead dogs and cats in there,” he said.

He also remembers a feces-littered living room that looked almost like a classroom, with eight small desks and a chalkboard, he told the L.A. Times. Many things — the closet and the refrigerator, for example — had locks on them.

“There were no beds, just mattresses,” Vinyard told the L.A. Times. “There wasn’t a place in that house that wasn’t filthy.”

Adults knew.  Adults declined to help these children.

Ah, but what if government adults knew these children were being abused?  Wouldn’t they step in?  Let’s check in with the Pentagon:

A government watchdog suggested that Congress might want to prohibit the Defense Department from spending money on Afghan military units whose members sexually abuse children or commit other human rights ­violations. But the Pentagon disagreed with that idea, saying such incidents must be weighed against U.S. national security interests.

The suggestion was made by the office of the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a previously classified report released Tuesday. It highlights the challenges the U.S. military faces in partnering with forces abroad that do not always adhere to the same codes of conduct. U.S. troops have long complained that some Afghan commanders sexually abuse boys.

Ninety-three members of Congress requested that SIGAR investigate the issue after a 2015 New York Times report alleged that sexual abuse of children was “rampant” in Afghan units, putting U.S. troops in emotionally charged and challenging situations. The review focused on the implementation of the Leahy law, which restricts the U.S. government from assisting a foreign security unit found to be in gross violation of human rights.

Ah, but the schools are different!  Schools are much safer than home, because . . .

That’s from page one of the search results.  We could keep going.

Does this mean all children who attend public school are in danger of being abused?  No it does not.  Does it mean we should ban public schools in order to keep children safe?  I don’t think we should.  But the idea that sending your children to the corner public school will make them safer than homeschooling them is ludicrous.

If we get to the point where we’ve managed to elminate the abuse that happens in the public schools, then perhaps we’ll know something about how to thwart abuse that happens at home.  In the meantime, let’s admit to the plain facts: The Turpins, despite their best efforts to hide it, were known child abusers over seven years ago.  No one stepped in.  This isn’t about homeschooling.  This is about a society that overlooks child abuse.

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Artwork by Kathryn Chan, CC 3.0, via Wikimedia

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