Wednesday, 9 October 2013
Why are home educated children in the United Kingdom more likely to be neglected or abused than those at school?
I have had a couple of emails over the last few days, from home educating parents wanting to know what grounds I have for suggesting that their children are more at risk of neglect and abuse than those attending school. There are of course a number of factors involved here, but today I wish to examine just one of these.
When Ofsted conducted their survey of home education in late 2009, the inspectors spoke to the parents of 130 children. A quarter of these either had a statement of special educational needs or, when deregistered, had been at the stage known as ‘school action plus’; meaning that they needed extra support to cope with a special educational need (Ofsted, 2010). Other surveys have similarly found a high proportion of home educated children with special needs (Hopwood et al, 2007).
I think that most home educating parents will be aware that these figures reflect accurately the situation today. Let us work with the figure of 25% of home educated children having special needs or disabilities for the time being and see what the implications are for the risk of neglect and abuse of home educated children as a group.
Children with disabilities and special educational needs are at greatly increased risk of being physically, sexually or emotionally abused and/or being neglected. The largest survey conducted of this phenomenon was undertaken in the United States almost fifteen years ago. 40,000 children with disabilities or special educational needs were involved and such children were found to be about four times as likely to be neglected or physically abused as children without such difficulties (Sullivan & Knutson, 2000). The great majority of this neglect and abuse took place in the home.
There are many imponderables here, but if we use the figures provided by such research as that cited above, then we find that that 25% of home educated children, those with disabilities or special needs, are likely to contain four times as many incidents of neglect or physical abuse, compared with children who do not have their special needs. Looking at home educated children as a group, this has the effect of increasing the likely incidence of neglect and abuse by 75% overall. This means that taking a home educated child at random, that child is 75% more likely to be the victim of neglect or abuse than a child at school, purely as a result of this one factor. In reality, of course, the risk to home educated children is greater than this, for various other reasons at which I shall be looking in the future. For now though, it is enough to say that the chance of a home educated child being abused or neglected is at least 75% higher than for children at school.