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FIRST-PERSON: At CBS: a case study of bias

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–If thinking Americans did not realize it already, they should now. CBS’s “Evening News” is “Rather” biased.

Recently the news program anchored by Dan Rather carried a two-part report on homeschooling. The features ran on consecutive nights and were titled “A Dark Side to Homeschooling” and “Homeschooling Nightmares.” As indicated by their headings, both pieces were designed to portray the grassroots education movement in a negative light.

In order to convince the viewer that homeschooling is a dangerous practice fraught with child abusers and in need of government oversight, CBS’ Evening News focused on a few extreme cases from the past decade involving families who claimed to homeschool their children.

Part one of the report focused on a couple from North Carolina. After their 14-year old-son killed his younger brother and sister and then took his own life, authorities discovered the family had been living in squalor.

The second part of the report highlighted the case of a Kansas couple who are awaiting sentencing for abusing and murdering their 9-year-old son who “suffocated after his head was wrapped in duct tape as a punishment for taking food without permission.”

Additionally, the report cited an Iowa case in which a couple killed their 10-year-old adopted son and buried him at their house. “Because they were homeschooling, no one noticed he was missing for more than a year,” the CBS segment stated.

Also mentioned in the second feature were two terrible Texas cases. “Andrea Yates gained national attention when she drowned her five children in a bathtub,” the report stated. It continued, “Deanna Laney told investigators she beat her three sons with rocks, killing two of them. Both mothers taught their children at home.”

According to the report, the cases highlighted are not isolated events.

If viewers were not already leaning toward the conclusion that homeschooling is rife with child abusers and murderers, CBS helped them by providing a firm shove.

Included in the two-part report was the conclusion of a task force that reviewed the North Carolina case. It stated that homeschool laws “allow persons who maltreat children to maintain social isolation in order for the abuse and neglect to remain undetected.”

Adding force to the task force’s conclusion, the CBS report quoted Marcia Herman-Giddens of the North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute as saying, “They [abusive homeschoolers] deliberately keep them out of the public eye because the children do have injuries that are visible, and they don’t want them to be seen.”

Rounding out the CBS indictment against homeschooling is the suggestion that government intervention could well uncover even more abuse. “But it’s hard to know how widespread abuse might be because the government doesn’t keep track,” the report asserted.

According to Dan Rather and the CBS Evening News, homeschooling in America is out of control and is likely full of children who are abused and neglected. The implied solution of this “largely unregulated system of education” is government oversight that could include criminal background checks of the parents.

The only problem with CBS’ reporting is that the cases of child abuse cited have little or nothing to do with homeschooling. It is doubtful that government regulation of home education could have prevented any of the aforementioned tragedies from occurring.

According to a variety of reports, the North Carolina family was under investigation by the state’s social services department. The agency had contacted the family almost a dozen times and was aware there were problems. Interesting that CBS failed to mention this.

In the cases where children were killed by their parents, it is doubtful that state regulation would have halted the murders. Each occurred because an adult was bent on harming an innocent life. Sadly, in the Iowa case all government oversight could have done was to discover the body sooner.

Ignored in the CBS report is the abuse of preschool children. In order to stop such crimes should all parents have criminal background checks? Perhaps once a couple gives birth should they have weekly visits by a government worker to ensure the child’s safety?

Abuse of children is a hideous crime and those who perpetrate such evil should be severely punished. However, to even suggest that home schooling is fertile ground for such abuse is spurious at best.

The only way the CBS Evening News could air such a hatchet job and suggest it was a serious investigative report is because it is biased, “Rather” biased.
Kelly Boggs’ column appears each Friday in Baptist Press. He is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs