Homeschooling programmes in Britain have come under scrutiny in recent months following a spate of fatal incidents involving children and their parents.
Many parents of homeschoolers are calling for more support to be offered to those who are vulnerable to violence and abuse.
The Home Affairs Select Committee is currently examining how the government can help to protect vulnerable children.
Here is a look at the problems faced by some of Britain’s biggest homeschool families, from the perspective of a mother with two boys.
First and foremost, we need to understand what’s happening to the children.
If the parents are being threatened with violence, the children are being left to fend for themselves.
And, in any case, there is no evidence that they are being given the help they need to protect themselves from harm.
The fact is that, according to a report by the Home Affairs Committee, there are now more than 4,000 children who live in homeschool households in the UK.
The figures, released last week, suggest that, in 2013, only a third of children living in homes where their parents were involved in violence and harassment received the appropriate help from a parent or carer.
This figure is the lowest in the EU, with nearly half of those children living there receiving no help at all.
It’s important to recognise that these figures do not include children who are not in homes with their parents, nor do they include children living with their fathers, and children living without parents.
So, the vast majority of children who need the most help are not receiving it.
Another problem with this approach is that it does not take into account the experiences of those families.
This includes the parents themselves, who are often not able to protect their children or themselves from abuse or threats, and often do not know how to properly deal with situations that can result in serious physical or sexual abuse.
What happens to these children?
According to the Home Education Council, around 40% of children in homes are involved in some form of physical or mental abuse, with almost half of these incidents happening within the first two years of life.
Of the children who experience violence or abuse in homes, a further 19% are found to have been subjected to some form and another 13% to abuse.
It is often very difficult for the parent or other person to help protect their child, as there are many barriers in place to protect children from their own parents and others.
It also varies from case to case.
A survey carried out by the National Child Protection Board in 2014 found that, out of the 14,000 homeschool parents who responded, only 5% of parents reported having seen a psychiatrist or psychologist during the past six months, and only 5.5% reported having spoken to their child psychologist in the past three months.
This is a stark contrast to the 10% of homes that reported that they had had contact with a psychologist or psychiatrist during the previous year.
A third of all children who experienced abuse were found to be at risk of serious harm, with around one in four being placed in care at the age of three.
Of those children, nearly two thirds were placed in the care of a carer, with only a small minority being placed into a foster home.
Many children are not able or unwilling to access their own independent education.
Many homeschool communities do not have adequate access to computers or social media, and the government has recently announced a £5 million funding commitment for children in vulnerable homes to access a range of online resources.
There are many children in the homeschool community who struggle to cope with learning, often with no support from their parents or carers.
Many are finding it difficult to find appropriate and appropriate support to help them learn, while others may have suffered significant emotional distress from the experience of violence and other abuse.
As well as this, there can be serious health risks to children who suffer from the consequences of abuse or neglect.
Children who are physically abused can develop mental health problems, as well as physical and psychological disabilities.
Children with autism spectrum disorder and learning disabilities may have developmental delays.
These can be lifelong, and can affect their social skills and ability to function at school.
It can be particularly difficult for children to access appropriate and effective support when they have serious mental health issues or disabilities.
So the fact is, children are in danger of being left behind.
And children need help.
What can we do about it?
Parents and carers need to know how their children can access support, including online and telephone resources, to help prevent abuse and protect themselves.
As part of the Government’s National Programme for Primary Education, the National Homeschool Association and the Association of Secondary Schools have recently launched a joint online support service.
It provides information on how to report child abuse and neglect, and is a key tool for families and carer support services.
The National Homescare Alliance has also recently launched an online service for parents and caretakers to report incidents of domestic abuse and bullying.
The Government is also providing support for victims of domestic violence and stalking