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The “California Torture House” – Why More Regulation Isn’t the Answer

In the wake of the couple (David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin) found to have been keeping their 13 children captive in their Perris, California home, we hear cries for more regulation of homeschoolers. I however, don’t believe that more regulation will keep things like this from happening. More regulations force rules upon honest homeschoolers and take away freedoms from those who are already abiding by the laws.

Always remember that criminals will do criminal things.  No amount of regulation will stop this.  If the accusations are proven true, it wouldn’t have stopped them from doing what they did, because only a truly evil person would that to their children. Yes, I said “if,” because we still presume innocence until the accused are convicted by a jury.

This isn’t a homeschool issue – it’s a societal one

Things like this highlight the problems in society, but they’re not wrought by a lack of government oversight of homeschoolers (or other group of people), but rather by a too-heavy dependence upon the government in general. Before you start yelling at your screen about how we need to protect the children, understand that I agree and realize that some regulation is necessary, because people are imperfect; and some are downright evil. I just think that too much makes us less reliant upon ourselves, while our communities degrade even further.

The people in the arguably best position to know something was going on, were those closest to the family – relatives, friends, and neighbors. Their neighbors (both here and in Texas, where they lived before the current home in California), of course feel awful about not learning more about their “odd” neighbors, and that they should have known there was something wrong. Maybe they should have, but truthfully the fault lies with each and every one of us who has decided to spend time on our digital devices rather than interacting with the people in the world around. Rather than more regulation, there should a cry for more community. More of people getting together, talking and socializing. More of the chatting, the planning and playing.

The couple’s own parents don’t want to believe the accusations; who in their right mind would want to believe this about their kids? But we have separated ourselves from each other so far, so completely, that we no longer really listen to what’s going on in our own back yards. As a result, our children suffer, and we have become isolated from one another. In our isolation, we have become suspicious and fearful – a dangerous combination for a society. One that often leads to more regulation, when citizens would rather let the government handle things than do it for themselves.

More regulation will not help bring people like this to justice. Instead, it would provoke a more devious way to hide their crimes. It would give a false sense of security to the community, saying that all is well and there is no need for concern. More regulations will cause people to turn an even blinder eye to what is going on in the world around us.

How can we prevent horrific tragedies like this?

Unlike some in the media, I do not believe more regulation would have prevented this.

Government is too big and too far away to be able to do anything about things like this until after the fact – sometimes long after. Besides, even annual inspections leave a lot open for abuse, and there are plenty of kids in schools who are abused by one or another of their parents who never get the help they need. I sure didn’t, and neither did my brother – despite my father having left us with multiple bruises many, many times over.

Regulation isn’t the solution, we are. We can step in, start asking questions, and alert local authorities when something is amiss. We can take a risk and step outside our comfort zone to talk with our neighbors. To really protect the children – this isn’t a choice, but a necessity. We must make connections with our neighbors, we must reach out and pay attention.

I challenge you reading this to take a moment, put down your phone and walk outside. Go knock on your neighbor’s door and ask them how they’re doing. Maybe they don’t have kids, or maybe they’re elderly and could use a little company, but start connecting. Let’s rebuild our communities.

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
– Mahatma Gandhi