In the week since its debut, the Amazon Prime docu-series Bright happy people became both a surprise hit and a topic of heated debate.
The film centers on the bizarre beliefs of Jim Bob Duggar and other members of the Institute of Basic Life Principles.
Jim Bob harshly criticized Bright happy people and its creators, accusing them of lying and creating a false narrative in order to stir up controversy.
Of course, Patriarch Duggar’s argument was light on details, and the many victims who appeared on camera to speak out against IBLP abuses were well armed with facts and firsthand accounts of real horrors.
One such survivor was Eve Ettinger, an IBLP survivor who now works as an advocate for children who have been victimized by cults.
Eve bravely shared her story in Bright happy peopleand now she’s issuing a call to action for those who were horrified by what they learned from the documentary.
In a new essay for Salon, Ettinger offers details on how predators like Jim Bob take advantage of America’s lax homeschooling laws.
“Looking at the history of the Duggar family and how Josh Duggar was protected from the consequences of his crimes against his siblings, it’s easy to blame the church,” Ettinger writes.
“To blame the faith of his family. Or the culture of spanking that breaks the will of children early on, prepares children who can be assaulted without response, who believe that this violence is for their own good, ”she continues.
“But these things are only part of the whole. An important element at play here is easily overlooked, and that is the systemic deregulation of homeschooling over the past 30 years.
Ettinger goes on to detail the ways in which deregulated home school environments put children at increased risk of physical and emotional abuse.
“Children in home-schooling environments are particularly vulnerable to isolation, abuse and humiliation from their caregivers,” she writes.
“Children deserve to be able to access a solid education that prepares them for an open future, and have the right to receive this education in a safe, supportive and developmentally appropriate social environment.”
Ettinger notes that the situation is particularly dire in the Duggars’ home state of Arkansas.
“In Arkansas, none of these things seem to be a priority,” she wrote.
“The only other homeschooling requirement currently on Arkansas’ books is one that prohibits homeschooling if a registered sex offender lives in the home.”
So even after Josh Duggar was jailed for child pornography, his family was allowed to continue homeschooling his seven children, as Josh no longer lives with them.
Ettinger goes on to note that homeschooled children are less likely to encounter mandated reporters such as teachers and school administrators, and are therefore more likely to experience abuse.
“It’s not enough for a state to say, ‘Of course, sex offenders shouldn’t be able to homeschool; – which, by the way, only two states have this requirement – because many of these types of predators will not be caught if their children do not interact with teachers or caregivers who are mandated journalists,” she wrote. .
“Josh and Anna Duggar chose to homeschool their children long before he was arrested in 2021 for possession of child pornography, and he was not registered as a sex offender at the time,” continues Eve. .
“Although a lawsuit filed by his sisters in 2017, over someone who leaked the assault allegations to the press, suggests they thought he was on that list, there is no record of this.:
Ettinger notes that despite Josh’s many crimes “there was nothing in place to protect the next generation: Josh’s own children. He could homeschool them and isolate them from commissioned reporters, no questions asked.
Throughout her essay, Eve makes it clear that abuse in homeschooling situations is commonplace, especially in cases where parents are protected by organizations like the IBLP.
But rather than give up hope, she offers concrete solutions.
“We believe that multiple interactions with commissioned journalists per year are essential to ensure that predators like Josh do not let themselves be brought down, and that parents like Jim Bob and Michelle should not be able to neglect their children on the plan. education because of gender bias. to their daughters.
Unfortunately, in Arkansas and throughout the United States, the current trend is to allow less regulation in areas such as home schooling.
But with any luck, projects like Bright happy people and activists like Eve will soon change that.