A 17-year-old homeschooled student in Kansas City was found chained in his parents’ basement. Two homeschooled children in Palmdale, California, were locked in their rooms each day and had their hands bound with zip-ties. Calista Springer, also homeschooled, was chained to her bed in her parents’ Michigan home, where she died in a house fire, unable to escape. One theme of abuse in homeschooling settings is confinement and isolation. Other themes include food deprivation and controlling “totalistic” families. Homeschooling is also implicated in cases of missing children and child trafficking, along with identification abuse and medical neglect.

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.

Child abuse and neglect in homeschooling settings can take on aspects that can make it substantively different from the abuse or neglect of children who attend school. By examining cases of abuse and neglect, we can identify and analyze particularities of abuse and neglect in homeschooling settings. In order to do so, we draw from a variety of sources, including entries in the Homeschooling’s Invisible Children database, the stories shared on Homeschoolers Anonymous, the HA Basic Surveyvarious state child abuse fatalities reports, and an assortment of news reports. All told, we have examined hundreds of cases.

We believe that by bringing the problems of abuse in homeschooling settings to light, we can help find ways to curb this abuse and better safeguard the interests of all homeschooled children. We believe that all homeschooled children deserve a positive experience. It is our hope that by analyzing themes in the abuse that occurs in homeschooling settings, we can work toward a future where homeschooling is used only as a positive and healthy educational option.

For more analysis, see Abuse in Homeschooling Environments. For a brief introduction and listing of cases, click on any of the following links.

Physical Abuse

Sexual Abuse


Food Deprivation

Medical Neglect


Special Needs