Changes in Ohio's civil code are currently being proposed in the Ohio state legislature. Several organizations are warning that the changes over-extend the reach of Ohio's governing authorities into family affairs.
One of the main issues involves the redefinition of who is in need of protective services. The words ""Abuse, neglect and dependency" are the current categories used by investigators in child protection cases in Ohio." In the new bill (HB 371) these terms will be replaced with the phrase "a child in need of protective services."
Some, such as Greg Kapcar, assistant legislative director with the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, see the change as an improvement. Impact News reported that Kapcar believes new legislation would strengthen the law, revising the definitions to be clearer and more comprehensive, with greater focus on the needs of each child and his or her family.
However, it is argued that the new language is vaguer in scope so as "to broaden the net cast by child protective service agencies to justify an increase in the state's intervention into the home."
According to a legislative alert put out by the Christian Home Educators of Ohio the bill also expands current understanding of physical harm. The revision is said to now include, among others, corporal punishment (spanking), a child who punctures himself while playing with a stick, or a child who is injured in an accident where the parent is cited as the fault driver.
Michael P. Donnelly, a staff attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association, also notes that the revision will create a "one strike and you're out" framework. This alteration makes it possible for children to be removed from a home for one infraction.
While the home school community has been the loudest opponent of the amendment, these organizations are quick to point out that the changes affect all parents and not just those of the home school community. Thus they encourage all to contact their particular state representative.