Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Price of Homeschooling in Sweden

Update: A reader’s question prompted me to collect links to as many articles on this case as I could find in the news feed archives. I’ve put them at the bottom of this post.

The video below is a report by an American homeschooling activist talking about the plight of a Swedish family whose young son was removed by the state because his parents chose to homeschool him.

The parents have not been charged with a crime. They are only allowed to see their son on rare occasions. They were denied the right to hire their own attorney, but were forced to accept a state-appointed defender. Additional excruciating details are discussed in the video.

If there is a distinction between Sweden and a fully totalitarian state, it’s difficult for an outsider like me to discern. It’s true that there are no prison camps or firing squads for dissenters — but, in a way, that makes the situation even more terrifying. Sweden has managed to establish quiet, insidious, total control of its citizens without violence, without jackboots in the public squares, and with scarcely any visible public protest.

A list of articles about this case is below the jump:

Hat tip: LN.


mriggs said...

This is very interesting, especially as I am currently researching the concept of Sweden as a fascist state.
Can more background be found on this point:

"They were denied the right to hire their own attorney, but were forced to accept a state-appointed defender"

Such as, was the attorney the couple wished to hire, a licensed barrister in Sweden? What were the stated reasons?

Baron Bodissey said...

I searched the news feed archives and dug up as many articles as I could find on this case. I've updated the post, and put the links at the bottom.

mriggs said...

Thank you, your excellency the Baron;

What I have discerned from these reports is that Dominic had "a few" untreated cavities in his teeth, something that appears downplayed in this reporting. If true, that the parents have failed to have several cavities treated in their child's teeth, then that is a serious matter, much more serious than any homeschooling squabble.

Anonymous said...

Untreated cavities?
The boy is seven - he still has his babyteeth!
Are you joking, or do you really think that cavities are a motive for taking children away from their parents?

In Belgium and Germany nowadays you may find dutch refugees; people who have fled the country because Child services were after them. The state has virtually unlimited power when it decides a child is in danger. The professionals who work there are highhanded, arrogant and prejudiced bureaucrats of he modern leftist persuasion, and when they have their eye om your family you'd better run
The funny thing is that they have actually nothing to offer: when there really is a problem. They are underfunded, understaffed and badly organised. There has been a public outcry because children ar being locked up in adult prisons, because there is not enough room in the facilities. To add insult to injury the poor kids there are subjected to the normal prison routine..

The nanny state is a scary monster, indeed. When the authorities prepare to assist you, you had better run!

Charles Martel said...

Whenever someone utters the words "it's for the children" I shudder as that particular phrase has talismanic qualities stupefying otherwise intelligent people. It's nearly as powerful as the racist bomb.

Liberalism is the embodiment of evil.

Anonymous said...

Soft totalitarianism is a good way to describe Sweden.

It is far closer to Huxley's Brave New World than Orwell's 1984.

It's just a different flavor of oppressive subordination to the state.

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

In hoc signo vinces

It’s true that there are no prison camps or firing squads for dissenters — but, in a way, that makes the situation even more terrifying. Sweden has managed to establish quiet, insidious, total control of its citizens without violence, without jackboots in the public squares, and with scarcely any visible public protest.

Same political phenomenon as in Scotland.

freedomfighter said...

Hi As a long time reader of the blogg I must say that I vever have seen such a stupid article as the onle on home schooling, Sweden has changed a lot in the last few years since we got rid of the Leftist government and replaced it with a government that includes a Christian party. Ive followed this story and have come to the conclusion that these people are not normal, while there is not much home schooling in Sweden it is possible if you can demonstrate that you can accomplish it in a reasonable manner to prepare children for life and teaching according to the national school program, That is one reason that Muslim fanatics are having their schools closed , This stoey is pure bull,
as for an attorny you can hjave your own and pay for it yourself but if you want the state to pay you get what's available

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that America has its share of 'Child Services' type nightmare stories also.

Control freak busybodies exist in every society. It's the willingness of the people to stand up against those who take things too far that is the difference.

mriggs said...

Freedomfighter: it has also occurred to me that this couple are not normal people, and regardless of baby teeth, leaving cavities untreated is serious child neglect no matter what anybody says.

Baron Bodissey said...

mriggs, freedomfighter, et. al.--

As far as I can tell, you are arguing that the state has the right (and the responsibility) to take children away from families who are “not normal” or have neglected their children’s dentistry. This the state may accomplish without a judicial procedure in which the parents’ innocence is presumed, without the parents’ having a right to legal representation, and without the other procedural safeguards which we would expect in a free society.

This describes the essence of a totalitarian state: the right to interfere with and destroy the lives of ordinary people without legal restraint. It chills my blood to discover otherwise freedom-loving people consign helpless families to bureaucratic hell and subject them to the all-powerful caprices of the state.

If these parents are “not normal”, then charge them and convict them. Then take their children away and place them elsewhere, with close relatives — especially the maternal grandparents — being the first choice for custody.

The burden of proof for parental unfitness should always lie with the state and not the parents. Until recently, this was the norm here in the United States — the government had to demonstrate to a court of law that parents were unfit before their children could be taken away.

The state is not more competent than the parents to determine what’s best for the welfare of a child. Anyone who has every worked in the foster-care system here can tell you that. Children in foster care are routinely abused, neglected, and sexually molested in the homes where they are placed. A life of horror is the norm for children in foster care.

A child who lives in a house with a stepfather or other male who is not his or her natural father is eight times more likely to be sexually abused than by his own father.

Is this what you would consign this boy to because his parents are “not normal”? How “normal” is sexual molestation?

The breaking of a bond between parents and a child is by far the worst thing that can ever happen to him in his development towards adulthood. It is infinitely more serious than whether he has bad teeth or parents who are religious kooks.

Those who accept as a given that the state knows what’s best for a child and has the right to intervene at will in the family are already totalitarians in their own heads without realizing it.

Three generations of socialist state propaganda have had their intended effect. God help us all.

mriggs said...


as far as I am concerned, you are wrong.

The state has the right and duty to take children away from negligent parents. That is a principle that I thought was not in need of debate.

Whether this case has been handled correctly or reasonably by the swedish authorities I don't know, but there are indications that there may have been good reasons for the authorities to take action.

Baron Bodissey said...

mriggs --

I am not "wrong". A state that can take children away from parents without a prior formal judcial proceeding in a court of law is totalitarian.

This derives directly from the definition of the word "totalitarian" -- unless you are using a different definition of the word than I am.

If parents are negligent, then charges should be brought and a proper judicial proceeding convened. If they are convicted, then the children must be removed.

That is the proper disposition of such matters, and is in full accord with the rule of law.

But to have the Bureau of Child Welfare simply remove a child at its own discretion -- that is the absence of the rule of law.

Such actions are, unfortunately, all too routine these days in the Western "democracies".

mriggs said...

Okay Baron,

A typical court battle can drag on for years. Therefore to demand a prior judicial verdict would mean that many children would be condemned to years of abuse with the full knowledge of the authorites and society at large. I wish the world was simpler than this, but your way is just unconcionable, I'm sorry to say.

Baron Bodissey said...

mriggs --

That is true of judicial proceedings in general. It's one of the horrible flaws that have crept into our systems.

It didn't used to be that way, and it doesn't have to be that way. Cases involving children could be expedited, and turned around in three weeks or less, by statute. Court business used to happen that way, before the system got clogged up like it is now.

In any case, the state is more likely to be wrong than right in its attempts to improve the welfare of a child. There is no empirical evidence whatsoever that pre-emptive removal of children by the state actually helps them. All statistics indicate the opposite: non-judicial bureaucratic interference with parents ends up harming children.

Show me a reputable report that indicates otherwise, and I will recant and concede the point.

The rule of law is good not just for adults, but for children, too.

Dymphna said...

The state has the right and duty to take children away from negligent parents. That is a principle that I thought was not in need of debate.


Have you ever worked in the social services biz? If you have spent more than 3 months in one of those agencies, then you know how nebulous are the words "right", "duty" and "negligent", and infinitely they may be parsed, depending on the sensibilities of those involved.

Define "negligent", sir.

In the case of this child's cavities, the dentist may have said, "leave them alone, those are baby teeth and they'll soon come out. Meanwhile, let's look at the reasons for his caries, let's see what the underlying causes are...." (and the causes are often more than simply a bad diet or failure to brush his teeth).

As Consdervative Swede can tell you, the average diet in Sweden is unhealthy. He might even call it "criminal" since it can indeed cause childhood caries, and yet the government does not intervene?? Certainly the government has the RIGHT and the RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that everyone eats a healthy diet?

Define "healthy".
That totalitarian sentence above is mind-boggling.

#1. GOVERNMENTS DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS. Yes, governments have indeed arrogated unto themselves rights that do not belong to them. [See the Magna Carta for starters]


These rights NEVER EVER derive from government of any kind. They are a priori characteristics belonging to all human beings.

#3.GOVERNEMENT HAS A RESPONSIBILITY: to carefully derive safeguards to protect the three basic rights as they bump up against the often-conflicting interests of INDIVIDUAL citizens.

Anyone who thinks that government's duty is to interfere in that crucial parent-child attachment (absent any imminent danger to the child's three freedoms) does not understand the basic elements either of freedom or of child development.

How far we have travelled down the bleak totalitarian road has been sadly demonstrated on this comment thread.

Timothy Mc Henry said...

It has been truly amazing to see the discussion on this thread regarding the right of the state and the rights of the individual. As was stated correctly, the state has no rights whatsoever. The state, in a free society, it delegated its responsibilities from the consent of the governed. When a government begins to act against the rights of its citizens, it is the right of the people to change that government. The US is following the same path as the rest of the world socialists mainstream nation states. I can see the day coming when the left will have perfected a covert form of totalitarianism free from the overt threat of gulags and concentration camps. As long as a government can put forth an ambiguous, but readily excepted term for "Normal," it is free to rule as it pleases with the full consent of the governed. Words like totalitarianism, liberty, and freedom will have lost their meaning; and will be confused with concepts such as protection, responsibility, and social justice. In such a place, there will be no parent child relationship. At least, not as we currently know it.

Dymphna said...

In such a place, there will be no parent child relationship. At least, not as we currently know it.

That is happening now, and has been ever since the second Great Give-Away under LBJ. Daniel Moynihan begged his fellow Dems not to pass those welfare boondoggles but they ignored his prescient wisdom in favor of grabbing the votes of poor blacks who were scared into believing they couldn't survive without the protection of Big Brother, Uncle Sam.

The end result of this uninteneded destruction of black families in the name of a social justice was an obscenely unjust and anti-social
eradication of the integrity of black families. Because of the ways the laws were written, it made economic sense to eject the men. Sadly, women found that raising boys into real men takes having MEN in the picture.

Oh, but that's not the end after all. Now, in Chicago, in the very places our community organizer President worked, black women are abandoning the children, too. See, it's an equal-opportunity behavioral sink where both parents are FREE to leave, so they do.

Will we return to the days of orphangaes? I hope so, since I know first hand as both an inmate and a social worker that foster homes are by and large very, very bad for children.

mriggs said...

How I wish I lived in a world where ideal conditions were attainable. The ideal of dogs pooping chocolate ice-cream is often on my mind. But guess what: it's never going to happen. Neither is the due process of the law ever going to be guaranteed a rapid turnaround time - and it would have to be measured in days or even hours. Weeks is far too long in many child protection cases. I remember a case close to where I live of a father who used to use his children as dartboards. How many weeks would it be acceptable to use children as dart boards? Two? Three? How about five to eight weeks during the holidays? Forget it people; it is unfortunately the lesser of two evils to vest powers of immediate removal in child protection services, after which we can have a speedy judicial review. And don't get me wrong, I have no illusions whatsoever regarding the quality of staff in such agencies. As I said, the lesser of two - both considerable - evils.

Baron Bodissey said...

mriggs --

Then we shall have to agree to disagree. You have obviously never worked for Child Protective Services, as my wife has.

If you had, you would know from personal experience that government intervention in the family is the greater of two evils.

Dymphna said...

I remember a case close to where I live of a father who used to use his children as dartboards. How many weeks would it be acceptable to use children as dart boards?

This is a reductio ad absurdum fallacy and represents bad faith argumentation. The child under discussion had dental cavities. These two cases are not moral equivalents in my book, but then I don't believe the government should be involved with children whose parents' great sin was poor dental care.

I know first-hand far worse, more graphic stories about what disturbed individuals do to their children than mere darts. But I'm not going to clutter this thread with child abuse porn anecdotes.

Any reasonable person would say this dartboard father's behavior violated the individual freedoms of his victims. They deserved immediate removal from a dangerous environment. However, the most appropriate response would be removal of the abuser, NOT the victims.

Once the children were free from immediate harm (but still able to have the comforting structure of their own environment and routines), a few steps would begin immediately (beyond #1, below, these steps are not necessarily in chronological order):

1. The father might be arrested immediately by the police officer accompanying the social worker, once it had been ascertained that children had been harmed.

Conditions of his bond might include limited, supervised visitation with the victims. They have an attachment to him; despite their great fear they still need to know he's okay.

2. A separate investigation would be opened on other adults in the home - mother, any siblings who were adults, extended family members living there -- i.e., anyone who could reasonably be defined as someone who was in a possible caretaking role with the victims. They might be charged as accessories.

3. The social worker would attempt to identify extended family for possible help in case the family began to deteriorate as the abuse became public. Families can be an extraordinary source of strength for the children, maternal grandmothers in particular.

4. If substance abuse were an issue, treatment plans would be started for any and all adults with this problem who were living in the home.

5. Some kind of family counseling would be started within six weeks of this report, or following the abuser's release from jail. What kind of counseling and of what duration would depend on the particulars of the family.

6. In a functional Social Services system, the emphasis would be on ending the abuse and reconciling the family. Easier said than done. The best program I ever saw was Steven Bavelocek’s “Parent Nurturing Program”.

[see comment following for details]

Dymphna said...

The Parent Nurturing Program was (is?) a three-month course (with follow-ups over a year or more) involving the whole family.

It would take about six to ten community volunteers to carry the program off successfully.

PNP is always multi-family so as to take the spotlight off just one sinner. The ideal was three or four parent groups with however many children were in each home. Obviously, parents were screened for substance abuse.

Weekly sessions began with supper for everyone, cooked and served by volunteers not facilitating the groups. Adults modeled dinner-table behavior for children who often hadn’t seen this before. Families helped clean up.

Following supper there was a two-plus hour group session with a cirriculum for both parents and children. The parents met in a group with at least two facilitators. Not necessarily “trained” professionals, just people who understood and believed in the program and were well-prepared. These were folks who believed that others could change and that time spent in helping them do so meant safer communities for everyone.

The children met separately, and groups were arranged by age. Again, two facilitators for each child group.

The same information was shared with both groups. Children played while they worked and it was a fun atmosphere for the kids, after they stopped being scared.

The same was true for the adult group – it was fun after they stopped being scared.

Both groups were learning new behaviors and new ways to talk to one another. Sharing the same information brought down the level of fear. Bringing down the level of fear is crucial to eliminating abusive behavior in all settings.


The best post-WWII child-parent attachment work was done in England. A particularly gifted analyst wrote "The Good Enough Mother" -- partly as an antidote to the skewed popular ideas of Freud filtered for the average reader. He understood the intense feelings between mothers and children and he attempted to describe (as well as we can know) the infant's point of view for the mother's benefit.

I can guess what he would have said to the sovietized social workers of today.

Dymphna said...

BTW, the recividism rate for the Parent Nurturing Program grads was very, very low when I was in social services.

We did pre & post testing, and scheduled follow-ups for more than a year afterwards. The parents remained grateful but as time wore on, they wanted to move on with life, not to be mired down in what was no longer happening in their house. I was more than grateful to let them go.

I got out of social services because I believed -- and still believe -- that the system itself is corrupt. I left that position without another job lined up because I knew it was the right thing to do. We had some rough times for a while...

gsw said...

There is still the unsolved question of whether it is legal not to permit your child to go to school.
While home schooling is common in America, the country in which my daughter grew up it is not.

While the parents have the right to make many choices for the child - church attendence, type of schoool etc. - very few countries in Europe permit the parents not to sent their children to school at all.

I am actually anti-home schooling on principle, however, if enough parents get together, they can open a small private school. This school will be controlled and they must teach the minimum national corriculum.

freedomfighter said...

Sweden isn't the problem the USA is, look at Calafornia
SB 1317 allows the state to slap parents with a $2,000 fine if their K-8 child misses more than 10 percent of the school year without a valid excuse. It also allows the state to punish parents with up to a year in prison for the demeanour,
In Sweden a parent not the stat chooses the child's school, BUT the state pays, the student can choose an alternative school using state funds all schools are treated equally state of private as long as they treat students equally based on merit, that you do not get in the US where only the rich can afford private schools for their children

Zenster said...

Baron Bodissey: It didn't used to be that way, and it doesn't have to be that way. Cases involving children could be expedited, and turned around in three weeks or less, by statute. Court business used to happen that way, before the system got clogged up like it is now. [emphasis added]

What would a histogram look like that compared the overall (and continuously rising) percentage of lawyer-politicians elected to government office with the increasingly sclerotic state of our justice system's ability to speedily adjudicate?

Does anyone suspect that there would also be a similar trend of proportionality in the overall number of practicing lawyers and population size of incarcerated inmates?

Is it sheer accident that the most basic forms of due process have been so obscenely prolonged even as lawyer-politicians are playing a constantly growing role in the expansion of our legal system and government (a preferred nesting site for lawyers), in general?

Whatever happened to "justice delayed is justice denied"? Or is just that "justice expedited is billing opportunities denied"?

Electing lawyers as politicians may prove to be one of the most profound mistakes imaginable. Giving lawyers the opportunity to write and pass their own laws is like allowing heroin junkies to grow their own opium poppies.

Anonymous said...

Parts of the preceding GoV debate quite annoy me as I have followed this case pretty closely since its inception, and I feel that many pertinent facts are being missed and/or blatantly misrepresented (i.e., an inane focus on the deleterious effects of childhood cavities) - thus leading to a debate about minor issues that are largely unrelated to the actual situation as I understand it based on my prior reading from day one.

As I understand it, the main beef of the Swedish government is that the parents "dared" to home school their son who, in turn, scored less than average on several government-mandated standardized tests. The parents wanted to continue to home school their child and attempted to move to India to be nearer to the wife's relatives - and (presumably) to be able to continue to be able to home school their son. As the parents were leaving Sweden to move to India, the Swedish government boarded their plane without prior notice and "confiscated" the terrified boy from his equally terrified loving married Christian parents.

There are much larger issues here than whether a Swedish boy had a few cavities - or even whether a Swedish boy had low standardized test scores.

The larger issues are as follows:

1. Do families have a right to choose the country in which they reside? The parents here clearly intended to leave Sweden and live in India. By “confiscating” their son, the Swedish government has effectively coerced the entire family to live in Sweden versus India.

2. Which is the more important type of education: emotional and spiritual education or intellectual education? In other words, if loving married Christian parents teach their child to be a fine person (who may indeed have below average test scores) is that less important than a state agency "confiscating" a child and ruining that child's emotional and spiritual health while ensuring that the child's school test scores stay average?

Does the government hold Muslim parents to the same emotional, spiritual, and/or intellectual educational standards as non-Muslim parents? When little Mohammed scores below average on his standardized test scores, does Sweden remove little Mohammed from his home? Doubtful.

Anonymous said...

3. Who "owns" a child in 2011? Do a child's loving married parents "own" a child OR do random government social service agents "own" a child? Is every family merely a "foster" family that can be replaced at whim by random social services agents who are under local, state, and/or federal government control - or who simply act independently out of ignorance, spite, or malice?

My brother has told me that local government social services agents in Washington DC have been known to "confiscate" children from loving families as a form of political punishment. To be clear: first social services agents remove the child(ren) from their homes, and then social services agents defer multiple court hearings and actively run down the clock on legal appeals by the parents, and finally social services agents legally ADOPT the child(ren) to other families without the original family having any chance in court to prove their innocence. Evidently, this government corruption happens without press attention because the child(ren) are juveniles. Uneducated parents are caught completely off guard....

4. Is childhood education to be managed by the parents or the government? In other words, can governments BAN home schooling and force state schooling on families? Can parents say "no" to state schooling and/or any of its content?

The United Nations agenda is to outlaw ALL home schooling. We all know that the United Nations is unduly influenced by the powerful Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). What happens when Western countries contain Muslim majorities in the very near future? Will all students then be forced to attend state schools that extol Islam and Sharia Law? You'd better believe it....

5. Will all dissent of government be completely and effectively silenced if governments can swoop in at will and "confiscate" children without accountability - and/or parent visitation rights? Correct. The intent of sweeping powers granted to social services agents to "confiscate" children is to scare the "dissent" out of parents (and grandparents) who will stay silent if their dissent puts their custody of their children at risk - and the typical family raises children and grandchildren for many many years....

By the way, I believe that the repeal of "don't ask-don't tell" has the SAME end goal to quash all dissent. If the repeal of "don't ask-don't tell" means that the military cannot fill its ranks with volunteers, then the military will institute the draft. Once the draft is instituted, the government can use the draft to punish people who dissent. Thus, people who criticize the government will surely find that their sons and daughters are the ones drafted to fight a losing war (using guns without bullets) in faraway Islamic lands.

Dymphna said...


Thanks for the update. It's all appalling.

If you would like to do a post on the particulars of this family, I would welcome it.

Also, if your brother has links to info on Washington DC foster care services, I'd be interested in following up with that.

Thank you for commenting, even if the material is horrific.

Anonymous said...
The question about who owns children is far older than you'd think.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. Thanks for the link. :)

Nick said...

New article at WND. (Posted Jan 1st.)