Some state lawmakers propose legislation to require home visits for homeschoolers from mandated reporters to check for child abuse. Their reasoning is that public school students are protected by mandated child abuse reporting at the school and that homeschooled students should be protected too.
Public schools do not provide a “safe harbor” from child abuse
However, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data shows no indication that children are protected from child abuse when they enter the public schools. The child abuse rate keeps on drifting downwards as children grow older. There is no sign that they have entered any type of protected environment.
Child Abuse by Age 2016
Graph reproduced from Child Maltreatment 2016, p. 19
Preschoolers and traditional school students are most at risk for child abuse fatalities
The problems with home visits
Proponents of mandated or coerced home visits typically ignore the problems with home visits.
Lack of research evidence that mandated reporters provide effective protection against child abuse
The strategy of using mandated reporters at public schools to create a protected environment against child abuse is an apparent failure, even though the students are under observation for half of the days in a year. To your author’s knowledge, there is no research evidence indicating that mandated or coerced home visits at a more infrequent rate would create a protected environment at home for students. State-required home visits to all appearances are not a viable solution to child abuse.
Children are harmed by intrusions into their family life
As Richard Wexler puts it:
Children will know the purpose of these visits, and they will sense the tension they cause in their families. That makes them, inherently, an act of emotional abuse against the children. As three of the leading child welfare scholars of the 20th century, Anna Freud, Joseph Goldstein and Albert J. Solnit wrote, in calling for far higher standards before ever intervening in families:
“Children react even to temporary infringement of parental autonomy with anxiety, diminishing trust, loosening of emotional ties, or an increasing tendency to be out of control.”
U.S. Constitution concerns
Blanket mandated home visits raise Fourth Amendment issues. Across-the-board visits imply there is probable cause to believe that every home is likely an abusive home.