Recent tragic deaths of Iowa teenagers have focused attentions on efforts to identify the causes and propose responses.
Both of the teens were girls who were adopted out of the foster care system, and both were living with families that had been under investigative oversight from the Department of Human Services.
Because neither were attending an accredited school at the time their distressing deaths occurred, some have called for increased regulation of Iowa homeschooling families.
Homeschooling advocate Rodger Williams has compiled some extensive reviews of available data to help to clarify this issue. These 3 specific questions and answers provide a simple summary:
How does the child abuse fatality rate in traditional schools (public and private schools) compare with the homeschool rate in individual states?
The available data does not allow us to reliably answer that question at the state level. Homeschool abuse fatality counts are so low in individual states that they are not useful for statistical purposes. So, we use national counts to compare fatality rates, instead.
National data shows legally homeschooled students have a 40% lower child abuse fatality rate than the national average. http://thehomeschooleffect.com/child-fatalitiesregulation.html
Is there any peer reviewed information on homeschool child abuse fatalities?
Not yet. Peer review is a specialized standard for publishing in academic journals. Academic textbooks and other scholarly books are not peer-reviewed. Everyday articles and reports have a different mechanism for verification.
As information consumers, we look to see if the cited sources and the evidence presented are reliable. Then we examine the logic of the argument used to see if it is sound. If both of these components are of high quality, then we can have confidence in the validity of what we are reading.
In the case of articles about homeschool child fatalities written so far, we should look at the data presented and the logic of the analysis to determine whether the conclusions are warranted.
Don't teachers in traditional schools (public and private schools) protect their students from child abuse fatalities by reporting suspicious circumstances to Child Protective Services?
Yes. But their efforts are apparently not enough to adequately protect their public and private school students.
Students at traditional schools are roughly 50 to 60 percent more likely to die of child abuse than legally homeschooled students. (This is related to the fact that homeschool child abuse fatalities are 40% lower than the national average.)