Posted on Oct 21 2009 in International Homeschooling by
- From the HSLDA e-lert service , October 7
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
We recently told you about the plight of the Johanssons, a Swedish family whose only child, 7-year-old Dominic Johansson, was seized by Swedish police from a plane just as the family was about to leave the country for a new life in India.
After investigating the facts surrounding the case, HSLDA President J. Michael Smith wrote to Swedish officials to protest this action.
Citing confidentiality concerns for not commenting on the Johansson case, Mr. Stigland noted that a county administrative board in Sweden is reviewing how it was handled by local officials.
In a telephone conversation with HSLDA, Mr. Johansson confirmed that he has been in contact with the county administrative board.
“They told me that they are looking into the case to determine if anything was done improperly,” he said.
And at a meeting with the social workers on Tuesday, October 6, Mr. Johansson was told that he and his wife would only be allowed to visit their son at the social workers office once every two weeks for a maximum of two hours.
What does Sweden hope to gain from such an aggressive action? The situation is tragic. It is deeply troubling that a Western democracy would go to such lengths to prevent a homeschool family from simply trying to leave the country.
Dominic has been traumatized, and his mother has been hospitalized several times because of the depression this incident has caused. Yet the social workers persist in keeping custody of Dominic. When Mr. Johansson asks why, they reply “Because it’s better for him.” According to Mr. Johansson, both he and Dominic have been subjected to psychological and other testing with results showing no valid reason for continued separation of the family.
In light of this aggressive behavior and because the Swedish parliament is poised to impose draconian regulations on homeschoolers, HSLDA is asking its members to contact the Swedish Ambassador to the United States.
Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafström can be reached:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 202-467 2600
By fax: 202-467 2699
First, we ask you to request that the Swedish government return Dominic to his family. The social welfare agency has taken custody of Dominic, and they have the power to return him to his parents. Request that they do so immediately.
Second, inform the ambassador that homeschooling allows children to thrive academically and socially. Valid research has demonstrated that homeschooling is a mainstream educational approach that works. Tell him that the world doesn’t need any more countries like Germany that repress freedom in education, and that a person should be permitted to opt out of public education because of philosophical or religious convictions.
In his letter to Mr. Smith, Mr. Stigland noted that since Sweden is a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the starting point for children is Sweden is the “ best interests of the child and the child’s right to be heard .” Mr. Stigland noted that social services have an obligation to “intervene and remove a child from the family if the child’s health and development are endangered.” Mr. Stigland noted that a child should be returned home as soon as possible if it was “in the best interests of the child.”
Of grave concern to HSLDA is Mr. Stigland’s citation of the legislative history of the Education Act which says: “The legislative history of the current Education Act states that home schooling in isolated cases, mainly in the lower grades, might be an acceptable substitute for education if a particular external circumstance exists. Examples of such are: if the child lives in a sparsely populated area or needs special care. Legal practice shows that the situation also arises when parents for other reasons, such as philosophical or religious, want to educate their children at home. In connection with the new Education Act, these rules are now being reviewed.”
The act is indeed being reviewed and the proposal is even more draconian. The proposed language would remove philosophical or religious convictions as valid reasons to home school. The new law would allow homeschooling only in “extraordinary circumstances” (read: never). If the proposed Swedish law passes it would become as bad as in Germany where homeschooling is effectively banned.
Mike Farris recently said in his address to the World Congress of Families, “Any nation that severely restricts the ability of parents to choose alternative forms of education, including home education, in the name of creating national unity, cannot call itself a free nation. Freedom necessarily requires the individual to have the liberty to think differently and believe differently than programs instituted by the current rulers of any nation. Educational freedom is the cornerstone for all freedom of thought and conscience.”
HSLDA encourages its members to communicate their concerns to the Swedish Ambassador. We hope that his influence may help correct an injustice and also pave the way for better laws for homeschoolers in Sweden
HSLDA thanks its members and friends for their ongoing support. It’s when all homeschoolers join together that we are most effective advocating for homeschool freedom in America and abroad.
Read the HSLDA article: “Sweden—the Next Germany for Homeschoolers?”