To return to this knotty one, (which I think we should be prepared to answer, even if we don't have to, iyswim...)
From reports such as this one from Unicef, it is clear that a child is indeed far more likely to be abused in pre-school years. Something in the order of 88% of child abuse occurs before a child is 5 years old. The reasons for this that are given in the reports, are NOT that the child is not regularly surveilled as they would be in school, or that schools offer respite to parents, but that the various demands upon parents are greatest at the infancy stage because of the nature of infancy itself and the newness of the situation for the parent.
I would argue that this is so, not only because these are the reasons that is cited in these reports, but also because of the oft-repeated reports of the experiences of those parents who have both HEd and schooled their children, from which we gather that sending a child to school is not actually any less stressful than HEing a child, since there are almost universally issues to do with helping a child to deal with the complex problems that school attendance presents, even for the most school adjusted child. HE can be comparatively a very relaxed way of life...you don't have to get up or go to bed at prescribed times, for example, you don't have to attend meetings that don't suit your needs etc etc...
In which case, we would argue that school attendance is NOT the reason for the sudden lessening of in the rate of abuse of children when they reach the age of 5. The reason why 5 year olds plus are less likely to be abused is because of the maturation of the child and the lessening of stresses of infancy upon the parents.
The argument therefore that HEors should be targetted because their children are not in school, and are therefore at high risk of abuse, does not pan out. Instead, if the government is really serious about tackling abuse, it should be concentrating upon the under 6s:
In this age group, studies such as this one (from Australia but still relevant in principle, I think,)
suggest that the way to approach the problem of detection and prevention of child abuse is to enact primary, secondary and tertiary levels of intervention.
The primary level of detection involves the offering of health service screens by health professionals.
Secondary and tertiary interventions involve referrals to other agencies, regular screening visits and much more intervention in parent education and other forms of support.
The question that pertains to the situation of HEors, given that the rate of abuse in the age of our children is so significantly lower, and that there are good reasons to believe that these rates are as low, if not lower in the HE community given that many if not most HE families find their lives relatively unstressful, what level of intervention should the HE community accept?
Presumably, in the situation of a primary screen, we could only reasonably be required to accept the same level of intervention that is asked of the group with an apparently much higher risk of abuse.
At this stage in time, this would involve accepting offers of health checks in any environment of the parent's choice and at a time of their choosing.
The questions then are:
1. Would this be an effective way to detect abuse in this age group of
2. Would the home educating community accept this offer?
Answers very welcome!!