Two families, with lots of things in common.
Let’s list the characteristics shared by both families.
First, lots of kids. A whole lot of kids.
Second, color coordinated outfits. I know they all think this looks wonderful and visually pleasing, but god damn I hate it.
Third, everyone all smiling and happy.
Fourth, lots of comments from people about how beautiful they all are.
Follow that up with comments about how well-behaved the children are.
Here’s a very typical comment from Nicole’s page.
Fifth, both families homeschool. And both California and Kentucky require almost nothing in the way of oversight when it comes to homeschooling. The parents simply have to notify the state that they are doing so, and that’s the end of it.
There is no way to know how much education took place at the Turpin house, although they seem to have been requiring the kids to memorize large portions of the Bible. That will prove useful in later life, I’m sure.
The Naugler kids aren’t educated in any meaningful way at all. Nicole and Joe use the term “unschooling” but what they really mean is that they do nothing. If the kid wants to know about something, it’s up to the kid to find out on his own.
At any rate, nobody keeps up with this. Nobody knows. The state cannot know because they do not require anything from the parents other than a note saying “Yeah, we’re gonna homeschool. Dig you later.”
Sixth, neither family seems to have allowed the children to interact with anyone socially outside their family, or if such interaction took place, it was always with a parent present.
Seventh, both families are very much estranged from any of their extended family. No visits, no relatives living anywhere nearby, and grandparents who have never laid eyes on some of their grandchildren.
Eighth, both fathers claim to be doing what they are doing because “God” instructed them thusly. Both of them, in other words, get their marching orders from the god in their head.
Ninth, both families try to project an image of religiosity, in one case, Protestant evangelicalism, in the other, Mormonism.
Tenth, both families deal constantly with serious financial issues. Basically, neither one makes enough money to support their family (and “support” is a subjective word). I feel pretty confident that the Nauglers would consider themselves to be rolling in money if they had the income that the Turpins seem to have had, but financial security is very much related to spending just slightly less than you earn, and the tension is the same if the ends don’t meet, regardless of what the cash flow figures are.
Now, we’ve done a comparison. Let’s contrast them.
How are they different?
First, Nicole and Joe plaster their entire lives all over social media. They don’t restrict it to photographs from a cheesy wedding reenactment in Las Vegas or from a trip or two to Disneyland. Nicole invites us in for lots of stuff, and that includes videos of the children talking and playing.
This makes them way more transparent than the Turpins were.
It’s easy to see, for example, that for the most part, the Naugler children do not appear to be malnourished. None of them appear underweight. They’re basically dirty all the time, but that’s not a crime. The younger children do not seem to have good verbal skills, but that’s just my personal observation and I am not speech therapist.
In noting this, I am taking into consideration that any views we get of the Naugler kids and/or the shitstead are all coming through Nicole’s filters. Still, it’s more than the Turpin family ever did.
Second, the Naugler children have already been in state care for several weeks, and thus have been assessed. Their CPS case is still open and hopefully will remain so for years.
Third, the oldest Naugler boy, the only one who is an adult, has an actual job unrelated to his parents (has had a series of them, in fact). We’ll see if this pattern continues, and I certainly hope it does for their sake. At least the two oldest Naugler kids are active on social media in their own voices. That’s a good thing.
So, what, if anything can we take away from the Turpin tragedy that is even slightly useful? These, of course, are totally my own opinions, and I’m sure you all will add to them in the comment section.
First, there is a reason why some folks, including me, scream and yell that there should be more oversight with homeschooling.
It’s not that homeschooling families, by default, are doing so to hide some nefarious thing in their family. The vast majority are not. Child abuse occurs in all sorts of families, including those who send their children to school.
But it’s easier to hide shit if your kids aren’t in school. That is simply a fact. It’s easier to hide it if they don’t go over to Billy’s house to play. It’s easier to hide it if the child is never, ever allowed to interact with anyone without a parent present.
Lots of homeschooling kids interact with other children and other families regularly. If really bad stuff was going on at home, it is much more likely that somebody would notice.
The red flags go up in my mind when I see the combination of homeschooling, no interaction outside the family without parents present, overt religiosity (especially on the part of the father), and no relatives anywhere around.
Second, photographs and videos of smiling, apparently happy children are meaningless.
You can be photographed/videotaped dancing like this and be chained to your bed and starved when you get home.
Third, appearances can be very, very deceiving, and that works both ways. Things can look bad and not be bad. They also can look good and not be good.