Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Still more about rates of abuse among home educated children

Debating with home educating parents can, on occasion, be like wading through treacle! As soon as you laboriously  establish one point, the terms of the argument change and you find yourself back to square one and arguing over a relatively minor point which you thought had already been conceded. 

Unfortunately, I do not have a great deal of time today to spend on this  blog, so I shall limit myself to one or two main points. The first of these is to observe that I hope we now agree that children with special needs and disabilities are more likely to be abused and neglected by their parents? I gave quite a few references for this yesterday; research ranging from America to Malawi, Turkey to Norway and even some from this country. I am therefore assuming that the debate now centres around the percentage of children with special needs in the home educated population of Britain.

As i say, I shall be going into this in greater depth in a day or two, but I will mention that one of those commenting here suggested that my own estimate of 25%, based on the available evidence, was hopelessly out and that the real figure would be more like 10%. Let us take that figure and see what the implications are for it.

Rates of abuse of children with special educational needs are, on average four times higher than for those without. This abuse is carried out by their parents at home. However, the rates vary, according to whether the special need is physical or intellectual. Almost without exception, the home educated children with special needs whom one encounters and learns of are not in wheelchairs, nor are they deaf or blind. They have what are broadly termed learning difficulties. The rates of abuse in that case are higher, ranging between five and seven times the rate of children without such difficulties. Let us work with the lower figure.

There is great controversy about the actual rates of abuse among ordinary children, a debate into which we need not go. Let us call it  X  victims per hundred children. In a groups of 1000 children without special needs, this rate would run at 10X. I hope this makes sense! Now let us assume that home educated children have no special needs. Their rate of abuse would also run at 10X. So far, so good. let us now make the assumption that somebody commenting here yesterday did, that only 10% of home educated children have special needs. Let us also take it that these needs are almost without exception, intellectual and not physical needs. Now for the sum. The 90% of home educated children without special needs will have 9X victims of abuse among them. The 10% with special needs will have 5X victims of abuse. Adding those figures together, tells us that overall, 1000 home educated children will have 14X victims  of abuse, in comparison with the 1000 children without special needs. In short, that group would have a 40% higher rate of abuse than 1000 children with no special needs. I hope everybody has followed that, because it is all that I have time for today.


  1. My recollection was that we established yesterday that we did not know how many home educated children there were, how many of them had special needs or disabilities and what those special needs or disabilities might be.

    We also established that FOI information showed that 20000 children were known to LA's of which 1000 have Statements of Special Educational Needs, and that some of those special educational needs would be to allow them to function in a school environment, and would not impact on their lives to the same extent out of school.

    So, we established that the actual figure is likely to be a maximum of 5%, which brings your abuse rate down to 25%.

    We also established that the research you quoted referred to children with the most severe disabilities and would therefore be less likely to apply to children with dyslexia or dyspraxia or high functioning autism where there are not learning difficulties. According to research done in 2011 by Fombonne 56.1% of autistic children do not have learning difficulties. Emerson and Baines found it to be 52.1% http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/myths-facts-and-statistics/statistics-how-many-people-have-autism-spectrum-disorders.aspx)

    I would suggest that that brings the figure down still further, but I wouldn't want to give figures for it because I have no reliable data. If you can signpost me to some, I'll happily do the maths.

    (And does anyone want to guess where my son gets his pedantic maths genes from?)


  2. Apologies.Please can I revise that to 12 victims of abuse per 1000 as opposed to your theoretical 10, which would be an increased risk of 20% not 25%. It's been nagging at me all day that it wasn't right but I only just got round to taking another look

    (My maths for that is 9.5 at standard and .5 at sen with a 5x risk which would be 2.5) 12/10 = 1.2, hence a 20% additional risk as a baseline.)

    Only, again it isn't, because the school population will also have an incidence of disability and that is why 2.8% of students have SSEN. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/special-educational-needs-in-england-january-2011)

    I think that OFSTED self-selected sample muddied the waters considerably, and that the true difference in figures is interesting in itself.

    In a schooled population of 20,000 you'd expect 560 children with SSEN. In a home educated population we know there were 1000. That figure brings home to me, at least, how many people have gone through a lot to get statements because they thought it would make school possible and then found that they didn't. Which in turn probably explains a lot about their attitude to being regulated by the same people they perceive as failing their children while they were in the school system and why establishing a good working relationship with the LA may simply not be possible for those 438 because of everything that happened before deregistration.

    What we cannot assume without data that doesn't seem to exist is what those disabilities are, and without knowing that we cannot work out what the likelihood of abuse is.

    It does, however, occur to me that anyone who wanted to reduce that gap between children with SSEN in the HE population and those in the school population could do so by tackling the problems that make parents deregister children rather than turning a blind eye for the sake of saving money or preserving good relationships with schools or actively encouraging parents to remove inconvenient and expensive children from the system.

    Apologies again