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Ohio Proposes Homeschool Law Aimed at Preventing Child Abuse, Critics Call It 'Worst Ever'

( [email protected] ) Dec 20, 2013 07:13 PM EST
Ohio Senator Capri Cafaro is promoting Senate Bill 248, or "Teddy's Law," in light of fourteen-year-old Teddy Foltz-Tedesco's death in January who was beaten to death after his mother pulled him from public school. The law would require that those who wish to homeschool in the state go through extensive interviews and background checks and be approved by a local child services organization.
Teddy holding a gift Teddys Law

Ohio Senator Capri Cafaro is promoting Senate Bill 248, or "Teddy's Law," in light of fourteen-year-old Teddy Foltz-Tedesco's death in January who was beaten to death after his mother pulled him from public school. The law would require that those who wish to homeschool in the state go through extensive interviews and background checks and be approved by a local child services organization.

Teddy Foltz-Tedesco died shortly after his fourteenth birthday from injuries sustained by the hands of his mother's boyfriend, Zaryl G. Bush, who ran a "boot camp like environment, abusing the boy physically and emotionally," reports the Tribune Chronicle. Teddy's mother, Shain Widdersheim, reportedly pulled him and his two siblings out of school when teachers reported signs of child abuse to the local authorities. Widdersheim's neighbors had also filed reports of suspected child abuse, but no refuge was sought for the children.

Teddy and his two brothers were reportedly abused for years, and his autopsy showed that his feet were frostbitten from shoveling snow barefoot and that the boy had been forced to walk on hot coals. "This ongoing abuse and torture was enabled by a family being isolated from everyone and every source of help. Isolation is one of the highest indicators abuse is going on, however many are unaware of that," says the Teddy's Law website. Bush was sentenced to life in prison, and Widdersheim is serving 15 years for obstruction of justice and endangering her children.

Under Senate Bill 248, parents would be required to have background checks and interviews conducted prior to being allowed to homeschool their children. Both the parents and the children would be interviewed separately, in an attempt to protect the children from fear.

LifeSiteNews reports that Teddy's teachers, neighbors, and child services agencies had known of his abuse for years, yet did nothing about it. They say that reform should start with the agencies who did not intervene to stop Teddy's abuse, and that the restrictions of Senate Bill 248 should not be placed on homeschoolers.

Senator Cafaro says she is not trying to keep parents from homeschooling their children, but rather to keep those who are suspected of child abuse from isolating their children at home. If passed, the law would provide parents with opportunities to remedy negative reports from social workers.