Homeschooling may shelter families belonging to dark cults, said MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael Beytenu) during a discussion of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Tuesday.
The committee convened to discuss the issue of abuse of minors in Israel, and the haredi cult Lev Tahor (Pure Heart) in Canada.
MK Levy-Abecassis referred to the fact that the Education and Welfare and Social Services ministries have granted families of certain sects permission to home-school their children.
“We must eradicate this dangerous phenomenon by coordinating with the ministries of Education and Welfare, and through examinations at every turn, before allowing homeschooling,” said Levy-Abecassis.
“We must act quickly and monitor the government offices, because in the last two years they, along with the police, received many complaints and testimonies of abuse, but on the ground everything continued as per usual,” said MK Yariv Levin (Likud).
MK Ya’acov Margi (Shas) echoed the words of his committee colleagues and noted the lack of prosecution on the matter.
He said he hoped “the Education Ministry will issue a revision of the matter, because homeschooling has become a shelter for delusional families.”
“There are now about 3,000 children in cults, but the main problem is that there is no one definition of the subject. Neither in Welfare nor in Education, which suggests astonishing ignorance on the subject,” Gabi Zohar, a clinical social worker specializing in cults told the committee.
Dan Grossman, administrator of homeschooling at the Education Ministry said, “Credentials for home-schooling are given to normal families.”
Grossman said that before approval for home-schooling is granted there are consultations with all relevant parties, and following the approval “there are coordinated and unannounced visits to the families.”
According to Ronit Peskin, an olah (immigrant to Israel) from the United States who homeschooled her second-grade son, until this year, “in Israel, contrary to the US, you have to prove that you are worthy to educate your children at home. Yes, there are abusive parents, but I don’t believe home-schoolers abuse their children more than any other group. “Do the ministry officers go into every home, where there are children, to check if abuse is taking place? Why is the assumption only relevant to home-schoolers?”
The problem arises when parents do not notify the relevant ministries of their intention to home-school, and children are left out of the system entirely.
“It is not the state’s business how you educate your children.
I did not register with the education ministry, and since I was never in the school system nobody has approached me or inquired about homeschooling,” a source who asked not to be named told The Jerusalem Post.
According to the source, the rule of thumb, commonly known among home-schoolers is “do not register unless the welfare officer approaches you; if you register you are basically asking for permission to homeschool and they could say no.
“I am not asking for permission, I will inform them if they eventually ask, and that way, they usually just approve.”