Learning about the life and death of Erica Parsons has saddened us.

She was beaten and mistreated during her life and reported missing in 2013. Her body was found in September of this year. To read the details, Google “Erica Parsons.”

Since Erica was homeschooled, her adoptive parents could keep the abuse a secret.

If she had been in a public or private school, outsiders would have noticed the signs of abuse and alerted authorities.

What is our responsibility as members of a community to prevent the mistreatment of homeschooled children?

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) is an organization founded by homeschool alumni “dedicated to ensuring a bright and open future for homeschooled students.” See:  http://www.responsiblehomeschooling.org.  

The CRHE website documents homeschooled students, other than Erica Parsons, who have been abused or killed by their parents. CRHE states, “Homeschooling is a neutral tool that places a great deal of power in the hands of the parents.

When those parents are healthy and loving, homeschooling can serve children’s best interests and be a positive part of children’s lives.

But when those parents are abusive or neglectful, the results are often disastrous.

For children in these settings, homeschooling is a powerful tool in the hand of their abusers, a tool that can serve to perpetuate and intensify abuse.”

What can we do to find those children who are being abused and rescue them? North Carolina law requires each homeschool to report to the state Department of Non-Public Education, the school’s name, address, and name of the chief administrator.

Perhaps the state should empower county departments of social services to visit each homeschool in the county to interview the parents and students.

Many cities and counties have homeschool associations whose members meet for classes and activities.

Another approach to help children who might be abused would be for the state to empower the homeschool associations to visit those homeschools which have not joined the homeschool association in their jurisdictions.

For those people who would oppose these two suggestions because of privacy concerns, I ask, “What is more important, privacy or the life of a child like Erica Parsons?”

EVA P. INGLE

Laurel Springs, N.C.

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