Homeschoolers have a reputation as being overly sheltered. Yes, we take steps to shelter our children from known harm in society. Can that be taken too far? Yes. One way is in groups with stagnant membership, sometimes working as cliques. As families get complicated, so do the issues, and in some groups, abuse can be sheltered and hidden, even excused. Some parents tell themselves an incident is not as bad as it seems, and can have tremendous compassion for a troubled family, not realizing the effect that infect and damage innocents.Friends want to protect each other, but we need to keep perspective.
I've been involved with many coops, groups and school supports over the years. We moms like to find like minded moms and put our feet up and relax assuming our kids are safe and protected in the groups we've carefully hand picked. We are busy with smaller children, and trust the kids are all Catholic/homeschool (or we must all be the same fallacy). By keeping the group too tight, we will isolate our kids from other friendships that can enlighten and challenge them, and instead build a group in stagnant water: unhealthy dependent relationships. And end up raising closed minded idealistic children instead of the healthy open minded, judicious minded thoughtful adults we had intended to raise.
I have known all kinds of people in and out of homeschooling. Homeschooled isn't an identity, it is how we raise and educate our kids. We are as diverse as you'll want to find. Many saints, future leaders, courageous families are born out of Catholic homeschooling. I have found my best friends and had incredible experiences for me and my children through homeschooling as well as furthering my own education well beyond college to a love of life long learning. But I've also seen dangers to innocence: drinking, smoking, sexual intimidation, and abuse.
How to help create healthy group situations? Pray for each other, recognize the ugly competition (my kids a better kids than your kids game), get spiritual guidance from a good priest to help lead the group. Pray together! Teach chastity. Listen to your kids, be honest, talk to kids about the hard stuff. Watch how they interact. Trust their instincts and your own.
Don't be afraid to stir those stagnant waters and make a change: Be courageous!