Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

HomeAboutAdvertiseArticles Curriculum Resource DirectoryShopKids PagesFacebook

Registration - State by State - Guides: VICNSWQLDSAWATASACTNT

Download our FREE The Educating Parent Resource Directories today!

Free download a quick guide to getting started with homeschooling and unschooling by Beverley Paine The Educating Parent in this excellent Resource Directory
Introduction to
Home Education

Free download Beverley's huge list of books about homeschooling and unschooling in her special edition of The Educating Parent Resource Directory
BIG List of Books
about Home Ed

Download for FREE this huge collection of links to online Australian homeschool and unschool support groups in this special The Educating Parent Resource Directory by Beverley Paine
National and State
Support Groups

Help support fellow home educating families earn a living or add your business to this very popular The Educating Parent Resource Directory by Beverley Paine
Home Educating
Families in Business

Over 80 blogs by Australian homeschooling and unschooling families are listed in this FREE The Educating Parent Resource Directory by Beverley Paine, download and email to add your blog to the list today
Aussie Homeschool
and Unschool Blogs

Looking for support, reassurance and information?
Join Beverley's The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook or Yahoo online groups.


Home Education and Incidences of Child Abuse

© Nov 2007, John Barratt-Peacock BA., PGCE., BA., MSc., PhD.

Two things need to be carefully defined before we start to discuss home education and child abuse: they are child abuse and sources of information.

The author on the Australian Homeschooling Legal Advisory Service web site does not define what she means by child abuse and quotes a number of unacknowledged sources with no context. This is simply mischievous gossip rather than credible reportage and should be thrown out. I accept the legal definitions of physical and sexual abuse as they apply to children, though subject to some qualifications. First, they may vary from state to state and my knowledge has to do with the law in Tasmania.

Second, one person's child abuse may be another's caring parenting. For example, a relatively recent Mercury newspaper article listed saying "No" to a child as a form of abuse that is outlawed in government child care centres. The same article reported that one was also not allowed to commend children by saying "Good boy" or "Good girl" in government child care centres because such expressions are inherently sexist. I think this is patent nonsense and distracts attention from the very real abuse that does go on. I also support the view that parents are the primary care givers and people responsible for the well being of their children and that governments should only intervene when there is a prima facie case for doing so.

None of this has anything to do with registration, as I shall show below.

The second important introductory point that needs to be made is that it is misleading to transfer data from one culture and apply it in another without some qualification. A part of my thesis that had to be rejected to meet word limits was a comparison of the development of schooling in the U.S. and Australia together with some examination of the different meanings and attitudes represented by words we use in common. The bottom line is that, whether in support of home education or against it, there is no validity in taking data from the U.S. situation and applying it here. Thank God we are not yet an integral part of U.S. government or society!

Over the 37 years I have been studying home education in Australia and overseas I have interviewed, in depth, parents and children from a very wide cross section of society. I have stayed in their homes and observed their families and I have corresponded with home educating families, parents and children separately, over extended periods. I do not have a record of the total numbers involved but it is in the thousands.

In addition I conducted a formal, supervised, doctoral study of Australian home educating families over a four year period from 1994 to 1997 visiting families in every state and territory, except the Northern Territory, and corresponding with many more. I selected the material I used for the thesis from a much more extensive data bank obtained through formal and informal interviews of parents and children, formal observations and informal correspondence.

Because the question of possible child abuse in home educating families comes up from time to time this was one of the minor aspects of my study that did not make it into the final thesis. The stimulus for this aspect of my work was the claim commonly made in Tasmania by child protection agencies and support groups that 1 in 3 Tasmanian children is abused. I had researched this claim earlier and found the facts to be that 1 out of 3 people accused of child abuse and brought to court are found guilty. Because of the way courts operate it was very difficult to obtain hard statistical data on numbers of children proven to have been abused but the figure was of the order of 1 in 130 to 150 maximum of those that came to the courts. This was a far cry from the alarmist 1 in 3 raised by activists in order to obtain funding and government attention. That figure is now totally discredited.

In my formal research of Australian home education I came across two specific claims of child abuse.

The first had more to do with the reporter than the child and thorough investigation convinced me that there was no child abuse.

The other claim was brought to my attention second hand and there was considerable doubt about the outcome among home educators who knew the person. The family in question was not particularly religious and certainly not fundamentalist Christian. The prison authorities were not able to arrange for me to interview the alleged abuser in the time frame that I had available, but it is important to note that, innocent or guilty, he had been through the judicial system and sentenced at a time when there was no monitoring or effective registration process in his state.
Assuming that this person was actually guilty, that indicated a child abuse rate among Australian home educating families of about 0.001%. While even this is too much it compares very favourably with the proportion among schooled children.

Recent reports from DOCS in NSW and rather more sensational reports in the press confirm what the situation was when my wife and I briefly worked for DOCS. That is, that there are more reports of child abuse from the general schooled population than they can adequately cope with.

An ex-social worker friend from Victoria paints a similar picture for that state.

In southern Tasmania there is currently something like 200 unallocated cases involving the abuse of children in the general schooled population.

While it is fine to have a zero tolerance of child physical and sexual abuse, and that is my tolerance level, the situation is that authorities are simply not coping with the numbers they face at the moment on a daily basis from the schooled population. Adding a possible, but unconfirmed, 0.001% from home educators is not going to do anything much to improve the situation.

It is important to remember that in the school situation everyone who comes into contact with children has a statutory duty to report anything that could possibly indicate child abuse. This is a much stricter situation than any home education registration/monitoring system yet devised and yet significant numbers of abuse of schooled children are dropping through the net. Of those that are reported significant numbers are not getting sufficient support and help, if any. Clearly to use the possibility of child abuse by unregistered home educating families to get them to register is simply a furphy.

Having said that, I never felt any qualms about anyone visiting my home during the period that I was home educating my children. For many years I refused to register them as being home educated but, when we had negotiated a reasonable system of registration and monitoring, I did register and found the experience no threat.
I was at the time a fundamentalist Christian and considered that my responsibility to God and my children for their proper care and education came before any claims by governments. I still believe that but it does not mean that the government is my enemy, that I have to lock them out of my house and hide from their scrutiny.

On the contrary, as a home educator I have done a better job than schools. I have been better resourced and had a better child to adult ratio. I am always happy to share my experience with people who are interested whether they come from the Education Department, the government or wherever. My children are all now adults and living fulfilling lives and making significant contributions to society in Tasmania.

This response is based on solid data and professional research governed by the ethical standards of the La Trobe University Graduate Faculty of Social Sciences Human Ethics Committee.

In addition I hold post graduate degrees in Child and Adult Psychology and in Psychiatry from London University.

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing:
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely, sobers us again."

Alexander Pope
An Essay on Criticism 1709

John Barratt-Peacock BA., PGCE., BA., MSc., PhD.

Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you? Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating offering encouragement and reassurance to families wanting better outcomes for their children.

Thank you for your gift contribution!

Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful."

Want to learn how to write your own education plans to suit
your unique children's individual learning needs?

Looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips ?

Over 1000 reassuring and informative articles to help
build your confidence as an Educating Parent

Welcome to the World of Home Education and
Learning without School!

We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

To see the full range of Beverley Paine's books on homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning visit Always Learning Books

Tap into Beverley's experience through her books

"Your books, your blogs helped me beyond words...
they helped me to find comfort in knowing it is ok to choose
exactly what is best for my family." Nisha

"Your books and information are mind blowing and already
I am feeling good about this new experience." Diane

Connect with Beverley and ask questions
through her online The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook and Yahoo support groups.

purchase Beverley's practical and common sense books on homeschooling and unschooling
"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie

"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo

Advertise with The Educating Parent

Teach Maths in the way that children learn with MathsUSee by MathsAustralia

30% discount for purchases from ReadyEd Publications when you use the code 'homeschool' at  the checkout

Help your child to learn how to play music with our app and children's books to them started - I Learning Music and Fun in the Music Room

Stocking all of Beverley Paine's, the educating parent's, books!

Click here for music lessons for students with autism and other needs Spectrum Music Studio

Click here for one month free trial Typing Tournament - learn to type the fun way

music lessons tailored to your home educating students needs in Joondalup Perth WA the only homeschool reading development which combines neurosciencebased exercises with voice recognition technology, platypus power reading program

click to go to the Sunshine Collective providing ‘Brilliant Boxes’ to families of pre-schoolers and primary school aged children, throughout Australia Click here to go to Learning Enrichment Studio Fostering Students Academic Potential

cover of Getting Started with Homeschooling by Beverley Paine DIY Getting Started with Home Schooling Pack
Beverley Paine's best selling comprehensive common sense manual detailing how to write your own curriculum tailored to your children's educational needs
PLUS 9 of Beverley's popular practical home educating series booklets!
Great value $60
Natural Learning
and Unschooling Pack

Each Pack contains a copy of the following:
Natural Learning
Natural Learning Answers
A5 or A4
Learning Naturally Diary
Learning Maths Naturally
A Sample Approved Natural Learning Program and Review

Only $29 or $33
Select A4 or A5 Diary

Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.

animated Australian flag

Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!

Beverley's books are excellent for building confidence as a home educator says Tracey, homeschooling mum.

Support Centre
Contact Us | Join a Support Group | Beverley's Books | Resource Directory | Blog | Donate

About The Educating Parent
Beverley Paine | April Jermey and Always Learning Books | Advertise with us


What is Home Education Why Home Educate Getting Started & Registering Different Ways to Home Educate
Life as a Home Educator Resources & Support Teens and Beyond Curriculum and Teaching Tips
Unschooling & Natural Learning Travelling & Home Educating Other: just for fun, general, etc Children's Pages

animated smiling face Thank you for visiting!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
The opinions and articles included on this website are not necessarily those of Beverley and Robin Paine,
nor do they endorse or recommend products listed in contributed articles, pages, or advertisements.
This website uses browsing cookies and conducts other means to collect user information in order to display contextual ads.
Site Map. Text and images on this site © All Rights Reserved 1999-2018.