Last Friday, on the 26th, a married couple with three children was sentenced to nine months in prison for gross violation of integrity, a crime that has a maximum sentence of six years, for having spanked their children as part of their upbringing them. The district prosecutor had called for a year in prison each and is considering appealing the verdict. For the story in English, see http://www.thelocal.se/30466/20101127/.
No evidence of the children having suffered any physical or psychological harm was presented, and the court states that “Nothing else has become evident than that the parents – apart from the actions addressed in the case – have had a loving and caring relationship to their children.” The parents had intentionally used spanking as a way of raising their children, as the third option after having discussed transgressions with their children.
As soon as the criminal investigations were initiated, the social services took all four children into state custody and placed them into care, and they will likely remain there for the foreseeable future. In Sweden, both spanking and grounding your children is illegal – even the so called “timeouts” that are routinely used for correcting children, and generally all parents found guilty of such conduct lose custody over their children. This criminalization might have you thinking that the government is terribly concerned about the well-being of the children. Well, while the government constrains the rights of parents to discipline their children, it takes great liberties itself. The Swedish LVU law allows the government to deprive a child of his or her liberty if the child engages in “socially destructive behaviour,” which can really be anything, and they can then be taken from their parents by police in uniform and put into care at an institution. There they routinely face humiliating treatment and have their self esteems shattered.
What follows here is a video clip of a child being taken by police officers in uniform when she tried to run away from institution care back to her dad, a placement she had been put in in spite of not committing a crime. Friends have described the girl here as quite happy before her institution placement, but afterwards she’s assumed a very dark outlook on life. Immediately preceding her running away, the social services had decided to reduce the limited time she was allowed to see her dad even more, and she simply broke down and couldn’t take it any more. The clip shows both when she arrives at home completely shook up after running away, and the police the morning after coming to move her back to the institution.
Administrative use of force of this sort is quite common in today’s Sweden, though mass media refuses to cover it even if the victims themselves approach newspapers; in this case, Youtube was the only outlet the father had of making what had happened known to the public, though his initial upload is gone now, and this is by another person.