The academic advantages of homeschooling over institutional schools have, over time, become fairly widely known, leaving the question posed in the headline of this post as the most common objection raised by those who question a parent’s decision to homeschool.

I have a couple of entries relative to that question to post today. First, there is the story of the Massachusetts girl who committed suicide to escape the “bullying” she experienced at her public school. I admit that I had seen the headline days ago, but didn’t really read the particulars. After all, it is an undoubtedly tragic incident, yet committing suicide to escape bullying is of course an extreme remedy, and I figured the girl must have been seriously clinically depressed or something of that kind.

However, the behavior the news accounts describe as “bullying” is not the bullying I remember from school. No, this was no simple lunch money extortion, ostracizing or book-kicking. No this bullying includes charges of statutory rape, assault with a dangerous weapon, stalking, and other niceties. From the linked story:

Prosecutors accused two boys of statutory rape, and three girls of violating Prince’s civil rights and criminal harassment. They declined to provide specifics, but said students targeted Prince in retaliation for briefly dating a male student and continued their harassment weeks after the pair’s relationship ended.

“The investigation revealed relentless activities directed toward Phoebe, designed to humiliate her, and to make it impossible for her to stay at school,’’ Scheibel said. “The bullying, for her, was intolerable.’’

Charged as adults were: Sean Mulveyhill, 17, of South Hadley, with statutory rape, violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, and disturbance of a school assembly; Austin Renaud, 18, of Springfield, statutory rape; Kayla Narey, 17, of South Hadley, violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, and disturbance of a school assembly; Ashley Longe, 16, of South Hadley, violation of civil rights with bodily injury resulting.

Flannery Mullins, 16, of South Hadley, and Sharon Chanon Velazquez, 16, of South Hadley, were also charged as adults with violation of civil rights and stalking.

Three juveniles, all females from South Hadley, are also facing charges. Two complaints charge one count each of violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, and disturbance of a school assembly. One complaint charges one count each of violation of civil rights, assault by means of a dangerous weapon (bottle, can, or beverage container), and disturbance of a school assembly.

Ryan McMaken at the LRC blog has penned a great response to this story, and to the government school socialization generally:

The entire theory behind using schools to socialize children is based on the nonsensical premise that children become socialized by being isolated with large numbers of other children, with a few token adults present. Presumably, the purpose of socialization is to help children one day interact in the larger world. Yet, modern schools are set up in such a way as to be as unlike the larger world as possible. At your job, do you spend your days with dozens of other people who are exactly the same age and who all do the same thing all day? Of course not. Then why teach a child how to function in such an unrealistic environment?

The unfortunate byproduct of all of this is the fact that studies have shown that for many children, their peer groups are more influential to them, and more important for them, than their families. This is a strictly recent and modern development, and is the result of so many parents simply abandoning their prerogatives as parents to the schools.

Ordinary schooling is also a gargantuan waste of time for the most gifted students, since they are constantly held back to the speed of the slowest students. But students learn at different rates and have different talents, so the “slow” students in one subject, might do well the next when different topics and skills are covered. Home schools have the flexibility to address these issues. Public schools simply leave struggling children demoralized and uneducated. Most public schools have some banal motto like “Excellence is for everyone” or something equally illogical. A more appropriate motto for most would be “Sink or Swim!” Indeed, if one wished to devise the most inefficient, most child-unfriendly, most self-esteem-crushing system possible, it’s hard to imagine a system more adept at this than modern public schooling.

I would rather that my child avoid being socialized according to the government method. Thank God I still live in a place where this is possible. How long this will remain the case remains to be seen. Yet for the moment, I can answer the question of whether I’m worried about my children’s socialization this way: Yes, absolutely, and it is a huge reason we homeschool.