A Psychologist’s Take on the Turpin Case: Homeschooling and Child Abuse

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Hey homeschoolers!

This is an unusual podcast episode for me. I normally don’t address current events or controversial issues. But news of the torture, captivity, and severe abuse and neglect of the Turpin’s homeschooled children is prompting me to speak out. I don’t have answers for how to prevent every case of child abuse, unfortunately. But I do have information that I think must inform our discussion about the issue and even prompt our action.

Listen to the podcast   Read the blog post

We will get to that in just a few minutes, but for now I would love for you to review this podcast. On your iPhone, go to The Homeschool Sanity Show in your podcast app, scroll down to the bottom, and you’ll be able to rate the show and comment. Here’s how to rate the podcast when you aren’t using an iPhone. Thank you in advance for reviewing the podcast and making it more likely for other homeschoolers like you to find homeschool sanity.

Teaching Tip of the Week

The teaching tip of the week is using Instagram to find homeschooling books and curriculum that will bless your homeschool. Did you know you can get great curriculum reviews on Instagram? I frequently get book recommendations from the images and I love watching the live stories. You can comment with any questions you have for the Instagrammer. If you would like to follow me at Psychowith6 or GrammarGalaxyBooks, I would love to follow you back. But I would also love for you to follow HomeschoolScopes. For the month of February we will have a #realhomeschooling Instagram challenge that could not only give you great book tips, but inspiration for your homeschooling life. We would love to have you participate. To see a list of the challenges you can check out the show notes for this episode at homeschoolsanity.com/childabuse. Or just follow HomeschoolScopes on Instagram to find the image with all of the challenges listed.

References from This Episode

the torture, captivity, and severe abuse and neglect of the Turpin’s homeschooled children

An estimated 3% of school-age children are being homeschooled in the United States for a total of about two million students

the L.A. Times,


They admit that they have no statistically signifcant data that suggests homeschooling families abuse children at higher rates than non-homeschooling families.

one of the Turpins’ daughters attending school in the third grade

The LA Times further reports that none of the children had seen a doctor in four years

30 states reported that 8.5% of child abuse fatalities occurred in families who had received family services. Here is an example of one such child. There is also alarming evidence of high rates of child abuse within foster care homes

removing children from an abusive home doesn’t always have a happy ending

The Atlantic

horror stories about parents apparently innocent of abuse having their children taken from them without cause

The highest rate of child abuse is among infants with over 1/4 of abused children being under age three

The biggest risk factors for child abuse are alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence.

a religious upbringing or conservative political views constitute abuse in and of themselves?

More than one out of every five school children is bullied.

the Turpin girl was reportedly bullied in third grade.

bullied students committing suicide

responding to their bullying by shooting their fellow students at school

11 school shootings in the U.S. in the last three-and-a-half weeks, though that statistic has been disputed

1 in 10 students has been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of school personnel

Experts tell us that most child abuse is neglect and neglect is highly associated with low income

leaves her 9-year-old in the park near her workplace.

Nurses for Newborns

home visits that have been shown to be very effective in preventing abuse

Here are signs to look for.


Coleman and Brightbill argue that parents who have been reported for child abuse should have to be evaluated when they choose to homeschool.

What’s your response to the Turpin case? Let me know in the comments.

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Author: Dr. Mel

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  1. Hi,
    Thanks for this. I agree completely with your assessment of the case and the general situation of child abuse. I have a Master’s in Social Work and used to work in reunification with parents and adoption of children who were or had been in foster care.

    People like the Turpins will find a way to abuse their children. People who torture their children like that are of a different variety of people than the ones who become overwhelmed by parenting and use excessive discipline or those who neglect their children via drug abuse, poverty, or mental illness.

    As you mentioned, people can move to escape the system if they are in school, or they can abuse their children without any oversight if the children are under school age. Abuse is the problem, not homeschooling.

    I definitely do agree with your point that if people are involved in an open CPS case, they should not be allowed to homeschool until the case is closed, and depending on the situation, perhaps there should be some ongoing oversight for awhile. Situations are so different.

    I do recall some cases during my career where a child was truant and just vanished from school, and when authorities located the family because of the truancy, they said they were homeschooling. And perhaps they were legitimately homeschooling and CPS closed the case. Perhaps they parent had other issues and was no longer able to consistently get the child to school on time and thought that using the excuse of homeschooling was the best solution, although they had no ability to actually homeschool their child. I don’t remember the cases in detail. That should be a lesson to all homeschooling or potentially homeschooling families to make sure to follow all your state laws, and to officially withdraw your children from school to begin homeschooling.

    The state does have an interest in making sure your children are safe and educated. When homeschoolers flaunt the state’s regulations in some sort of defiance against the government interfering in any way with child rearing, they should expect government intervention in their lives. But if they follow the rules, they should have nothing to fear.

    People do have a somewhat irrational fear, understandably, of CPS. Although you do hear horror stories, they are rare. Most states don’t have enough social workers to manage the cases that truly need services, much less harass families who are innocent. I homeschool my children and I do not fear CPS.

    Thank you for your podcast.

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    • I so appreciate your perspective on this case, Mary Ann. Thanks for taking the time to share it.

      Post a Reply

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