We school year-round, which is a necessity because we skip so many days that I end up having to cash in our summer. And really, this is fine by me because I like having something to do on dull days.
But soon as Sept starts creeping up I always get that ‘Back to School’ kick, so we have been in full swing this last week, especially with looking for new curriculum. It’s exciting. I always like it.
And still along the lines of ‘Back to School’ – around this time of year there is always a number of ‘keeping safe’ stories, and also, inevitably, stories about school violence. The school shooting that killed a boy, which made national news, happened in the large town (Knoxville) near us.
And then all the homeschoolers come out of the woodwork to point out the multitude of horrors within the public school system and to say how thankful we are to keep our kids at home and how safe we are because of it. Yes, there is truth that we have an additional layer of safety because of homeschooling, but there is also a danger that a lot of us disregard.
It is easy to become complacent and deceived by safe feelings.
My ‘Back to School’ warning is this: There is every reason in the world for you to be borderline paranoid about the safety of your kids.
Evil runs amuck in the “Homeschool Community”. Sadly, and tragically, evil runs amuck within the “Christian Community”. Sinners saved by grace still have a sin nature. Your friends have a sin nature, the people you love the most – people you trust implicitly – have a sin nature. Their children who you also trust implicitly have a sin nature. Our children – yours and mine — have a sin nature.
Our kindergarteners, and first and second graders, are especially the most vulnerable. If they get ‘messed’ with by older boys or girls, it is a long road to haul. Of course you “know” your friends; of course you love and trust the closest people in your life. It would be insulting to doubt them or believe they or their children could do irreparable damage to your child, right? Maybe it would be insulting, but your kid needs you to be paranoid and insulting.
It is much easier to let people who you do not spend a lot of time with know the basic rules:
No playing in the bedrooms with the door shut
No two children allowed tromping off by themselves alone
Siblings are to always stick together (and keep a sharp eye) while playing with others kids
And yet with the ones closest to us (and even with our own kids), we feel as though we can trust them fully. Only other seriously messed up people with monstrous families would do ___________ .
Yes, we are blessed to homeschool. We have fewer snares and, to some degree, fewer dangers to stave off and fight against. Do not let this blessing become your Achilles heel by causing you to forget that all humans, even very good humans, have a sin nature – and that any social setting can turn into an event (or series of events) that will cause you and your child to suddenly be in a (long term) devastating circumstance.
So my advice is this… Be paranoid – yet still available and accessible. Trust no one – yet love everyone. Do not get peer pressured into putting your child into a situation that could be dangerous. Do not get so caught up with ‘visiting’ with your friends that you don’t know what the kids are doing or how they are ‘playing’. If need be, cut down on your own social time to implement this. Be wary of all teenage boys no matter how much you know them or how long you’ve known them or how godly they are. Be wary of some teenage girls, but I think especially be wary of girls between the ages of nine and eleven. Be wary of all children of all ages. Do not over estimate your own child’s virtue at *any* age. I’ll say it again – Do not over estimate your own child’s virtue.
There is a reason why people are always always always stunned, shocked and amazed when their family is touched with the unspeakable. Perhaps those who are already on their guard are never shocked because they’ve been able to prevent horrors before they happen. Having an attitude and mindset that assumes ‘the worst can happen’ can do a great deal in preventing disaster.
I’ll end this by saying that God is sovereign and ever present –even when/if something does happen. Some things, I think, are unavoidable. We do not have the omnipotent power to protect our children against all things and all people. Nor can we go back and protect them after they’ve been exposed. But we owe it to our kids, right now, to make the best effort that we can.
So, on that note, praise God for our freedoms to homeschool, but let’s not accidentally assume that makes us ‘safe’