When abuse happens in a community, we need to do what ever we can to help make a difference. Abuse happens in all kinds of communities, but for this post I want to focus on the Christian community and the Christian Homeschool community. One abused child is too many. One dead child is too many. But what are we doing to make a difference? Are we so quick to defend our parental rights that we shove right passed our children’s rights to be safe? What are we doing to help our community’s children? How can we protect children in a homeschool (or religious) environment?
I’m a bit different than some of my peers who want state regulation over home education and parenting. I’m also quite opinionated about how some Christians and Homeschoolers interpret the Constitution as well as the Bible. We should NEVER use the Bible to promote child abuse nor should we use it to dismiss abusive parents.
I’m an advocate for our freedom while being responsible for that freedom. Some parents violate that freedom when they violate their children’s freedom to be in a safe and secure environment. Children are the most vulnerable of our human species and deserve our protection.
I’m the kind of person that points to myself first before trying to point at some other parent so when it comes to me stepping up for another kid I keep in mind that I’m not a perfect parent either. I’m not trying to be a nosy busybody who is wanting to send a government official into every child’s home and interrogate a parent and insist they need government oversight into their home. At the same time, I think we could do a lot better job of being a good neighbor and a compassionate human being when it comes to kids.
The recent drama surrounding the HSLDA and the abuse of children has spawned a lot of conversation…much needed conversation. It’s also brought out a lot of angry, hurt, and suspicious people who want to send big brother into the mess to ‘set parents straight” and force them to be regulated by the government’s already volatile school system.
What’s a happy and reasonable medium so kids have the protection they need?
After knowing too many children who have suffered abuse in both churches and isolated homeschools, I’ve debated the pros and cons of state regulation. I’ve been discussing Constitutional freedom as well, and I think I have an idea for a good start.
I think communities need to be cooperating together with local professionals to make sure we ALL have the resources available to us so we can ALL be better parents.
So with that in mind, here are my recommendations to churches and homeschool co ops.
1. Pastors, church leaders, Nursery Directors, and Sunday School teachers should be fully trained as mandatory reporters. I don’t buy into the idea that pastors should be exempt so people can confess without being turned in. I think that’s hogwash.
2. Homeschool Co Ops should have their leaders be fully trained mandatory reporters as well.
3. Churches and Homeschool Co Ops should help coordinate with local authorities to provide low cost or free seminars for ALL parents where local professionals can come in and teach what is abuse and how to get help.
4. Offer support groups for anger management classes. If your church doesn’t already have a certified anger management counselor on staff, get someone certified or hire an outside counselor for classes.
5. Offer low cost or free child care during the classes. Be sure your child care workers are finger print approved by the FBI. You can get them to your local police department for a finger print and background check.
I don’t think pastors or homeschool leaders should attempt to do this on their own without professionals, because often times organization leaders will use loop holes to protect their organization’s image rather than to be truly on the side of the children.
Being a mandatory reporter doesn’t mean you have a full powered license to report people in an abusive manner. Some states have legal penalties for people who file false reports. So there’s no need to be afraid of them or of becoming one. The key is to be responsible. You’re not going to be pressured to scrutinize every parent you come in contact with. Being trained to recognize abuse is good training. You can have resources at your disposal to offer to families in need.
If we were more professional and pro-active in helping to protect children (and report properly and only when necessary), then we could help so many more children than we realize. When we cooperate with our local professional leaders, we wouldn’t need so many “big brother'” types trying to cram more government control on us.
We must be more responsible and we must do better to assist families in need.
Freedom comes with great responsibility.