The research to counteract child abuse claims simply does not exist. A report from the NSPCC two years ago concluded that 6 per cent of children (at least one in every classroom) suffer serious psychological abuse at home and the figures for serious physical abuse were higher still.
No one knows how many home-educating parents maltreat their children, but there is no evidence to support or discredit the concerns of the anti-home education lobby. However, we know a lot about schools. How do they fare in the abuse league tables? Not too well, at a guess.
The school system is the norm. We all went through it. Most of us survive it although, with 20 child suicides a year in Scotland directly attributable to bullying, the extent of psychological damage that schooling does is surely an area which needs addressing as a matter of urgency.
The days when our best schools operated fagging, birching and open abuse of children are gone. Abuse comes with a smile on its face these days. It comes with rewards for "good" behaviour - on pleasing the teacher, not making waves, thinking as one small part of the whole, not as an individual. It comes with merit badges for standing in line, and detentions for wearing shoes with a thin fluorescent stripe. Abuse is not an event, it is the norm. It comes in the form of control.
Parents often choose to home educate because they recognise that democracy in education is only achievable when children and their rights and opinions are taken seriously. Lack of respect for children is a malaise of our society, and one perpetuated by the regime of control in our schools.
Mary Ann Rose Chair, Action on Rights for Children in Education.