TEXT OF LETTER TO PRESIDENTS OF CBS AND VIACOM
October 17, 2003
Dear [CBS and Viacom President]:
By way of introduction, I am the President of Home School Legal Defense
Association (HSLDA) and we represent 80,000 member families nationwide.
I'm writing to call your attention to the October 13 and 14 two-part
story on the CBS Evening News by Vince Gonzales entitled "A Dark Side to
Home Schooling" and "Home Schooling Nightmares".
HSLDA has been involved in the legal issues of homeschooling for over
20 years. In that time, we've seen our share of negative journalism.
However, I can say without any doubt that this CBS story is the worst
journalistic attack on homeschooling that I have ever seen.
The message of the CBS report is that homeschoolers are child abusers
and homeschool so they can hide child abuse. These allegations are
untrue and demean the hundreds of thousands of homeschool families
across America. This is bad enough. But perhaps even more disturbing is
the way in which the report went about making its case.
Surely, you must see that it is unfair to take a few sensational cases
involving alleged homeschool families and imply that many other
homeschool families must be abusing their children as well. This is
especially true where, as in the sensational cases that were the focus
of the report, government officials had actually been involved with each
family at some point in time. If anything, the story should have been
that the tragedies occurred even under the scrutiny of government
officials. Moreover, no comparative statistics were analyzed in regard
to levels of child abuse in relation to the children in public schools.
Also troubling is the conclusion of the report that homeschool parents
should be subject to mandatory background checks. This is outrageous and
should be offensive to all citizens as it smacks of totalitarian
governmental control, a concept Americans rejected long ago.
One of the unfortunate consequences of this report is that some people
might actually believe it and use the anonymous tip procedures available
to report homeschool families for abuse and neglect without any factual
basis for doing so. Child Protective Services are obligated to
follow-up these reports and homeschool families will face unwarranted
harassment. This already happens all too frequently to families all
across America. More importantly, real abuse will be missed because the
system may be clogged with false reports.
In conclusion, it is obvious to us that the goal of the CBS story was
to plant the seed in the public's mind that there is a link between home
education and child abuse. This is unacceptable and it is an outrage to
the homeschool community as you have probably learned by now. I appeal
to your sense of justice and fair play to look into this matter. I look
forward to hearing from you in the very near future.
J. Michael Smith
More background on the "Dark Side of Homeschooling" show