This post has me a bit shaken.
My childhood best friend's mom showed up to school one day and pulled her out and I never heard from her again. We didn't even get to say goodbye. Knowing what I know now, there were signs of abuse, though she never confided in me and we were inseparable. It breaks my heart. My hope is that her mom pulled her out while dad was at work, they changed their name and made a happy new life for themselves. Knowing the stats after reading that study, I dread it was something worse. There's nothing I could have done as an extremely naive girl. I went to her house often after she left, hoping to see her, but the place was empty. I've thought about her often and tried to look her up with no luck. I hope she got out of there and my fears are wrong.
It has to be in the same realm of hoarding. Hoarders don't see their surroundings. They don't think about what they are going to do with x when they get home. It's all about the feeling they get from collecting.
Honestly it keeps echoing in my head, too.
DD had a new classmate start at her school in 5th grade. She was so nice. She had two younger sisters at the same school. (I will call the girl Sandy.) There were some odd things with these girls but nothing that could really be pointed to as wrong. Just odd.
1. The school did not have uniforms but all three girls were required to wear matching uniform like clothing every day by their dad and step mom. It was a bit strange. That uniform was all they wore the whole year. At first some of the other kids made fun of them but the girls got along well with everyone, the teachers nipped the teasing in the bud whenever they were in ear shot, and the teasing died down pretty quickly, thankfully.
2. The girls were excellent students, made casual friends pretty easily, but did not talk about home life. And no one was invited to their house nor did they accept invitations to anyone else's house. When Sandy was invited to my daughter's birthday party, a gift was brought to the school and the father called me at home to apologize but his children would not be able to attend the party. That was not odd by itself (well a little odd since a gift was sent through the school even though we had stated that gifts were not expected) but was a little odd in the grand scheme of things since they NEVER accepted invitations to go to ANYTHING with ANY classmate after school. Nothing. The girls were well liked. We all tried to make them feel welcome and invited them to play dates and other activities. They were not allowed to do anything outside of school with their classmates.
3. We were told that the mom had died and dad had remarried but the girls would clam up when anyone asked where they had moved from (they were not from the area) and they never talked about their mother, father or step mother. Their local address was not released to anyone and their phone number was a cell phone from another zip code. At first we were told the number was a friend's cell phone they were borrowing until they got settled in the new area. The number never changed.
4. The girls were not allowed to go on field trips with the other classmates. The one time there was an exception Sandy was allowed to go on an educational field trip with the other 5th graders but her step mother came with us, Sandy was not allowed to leave her step mother's side, and when we stopped to eat at a restaurant with an outdoor play area Sandy was not allowed to play or even eat with her classmates. She ate in her step mother's car and remained there until we returned to the school.
5. The school had really nice yearbooks for low cost. 5th grade was the last grade in the school so the 5th graders had a special section for their "graduation year". When orders were placed (I was in charge of the orders) the middle child of this family was allowed to order a yearbook but not the oldest. When I talked to the father I asked if he was certain he didn't want one for the oldest since they were going to have a book signing and a special party in class for the 5th graders and his daughter had several photos in that section of the book. She might like one for herself. He declined. He indicated that she had not earned the book. (She was a straight A student and impeccably behaved.).
6. Sandy was close with another girl in the class and the other girl's mother was a friend of mine. On the final day for yearbook orders Sandy's closest school friend and her mother (my friend) contacted me and ordered a book for this girl because they wanted Sandy to have a book but Sandy had told my friend's daughter that her parents had not ordered her one (she was the only 5th grader that would have been without a yearbook). I placed the order but let the teacher know that the book had not been ordered by Sandy's parents but by another student in the class to be given to the girl as a gift. (The teacher would have to distribute the books.) The teacher was very uncomfortable. She told me that if the father had said no he meant no. The teacher did not want to buck the girl's father and was uncertain what to do about the yearbook. Apparently they had had run ins during the year (she did not share details). I worried so much about that yearbook. I did not want it to be an issue for Sandy or the teacher with regards to the father, but since a classmate had ordered the book and I was not in charge of distribution it was out of my hands. I did feel awful that Sandy might be the only 5th grader without a book. But if the father had stated flat out that Sandy had not earned one and could not have it but someone gave it to her, would that create a huge problem for Sandy?
7. It became a moot point. Right in the middle of rehearsals for the end of school performance, a few days before the yearbooks were scheduled to be distributed and a little over a week before school would be out for the summer, the parents unexpectedly and without warning came to school and pulled all three girls out. DD came home devastated. Several members of her class were crying when I went to pick DD up. The students were in the middle of rehearsals and didn't even get to say goodbye. One minute Sandy was waiting to go on stage and the next the parents were pulling her out the door. On a side note, no forwarding address was given so even the middle child never received her paid for yearbook. I have no idea if their final grades were ever sent on or not.
It bothered me at the time but as I have gotten older it has bothered me even more. Where did they go? Were they o.k.? Why did they leave like they did? Should we have done something more? And what would that have been? The girls were clean, nicely dressed (even if it was a uniform), polite, well spoken, made great grades, seemed well fed, etc.
I just don't know. What if they needed help and no one helped them? What if their mom was really still alive and they had been illegally removed by the non-custodial parent and simply TOLD their mother had died? So many scenarios play out in my head now. But maybe things were just fine. Maybe they didn't need help at all. How does one know?
In the case from the OP those kids WERE in school originally. No one helped them. No one realized the extent of the issues. Maybe things were not quite as bad then but from reports there was already abuse. Being in school didn't get them help. And if they were in school in the state of Texas they would have had to have had a wellness physical signed by a licensed physician. The parents were not homeschooling then. No one helped. The family just packed up and moved when things got uncomfortable. I do think "homeschooling" can potentially keep children even more isolated and unlikely to get help but with families like the one in the OP I don't think additional regulations for homeschoolers would have helped those kids. Their parents weren't following the law anyway. Just think how long they were able to stay under the radar.
I really don't know what the answer is.