Sweden Crushing Homeschoolers: Exorbitant Fines as Politicians Call for Gov’t to Seize Homeschooled Children
A leader of Sweden’s Liberal Party recently called for a change in the country’s social services law so that the government can take children away from homeschooling families more easily by allowing social workers to do so. In the Nordic country where the climate for homeschooling is literally freezing, this statement is the most direct and serious threat to date for homeschooling families.
The call for the change comes amidst already stringent penalties in Sweden for home schooling. We have already applied to the European Court of Human Rights, together with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), on behalf of the Johansson family whose child was abducted by the government in 2009 whose child was abducted by the government in 2009 and have filed a brief in a Swedish appellate court on behalf of another family fined an amount equivalent to $26,000 USD.
The right of parents to choose the kind of education their children receive is a fundamental human right recognized in international legal documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Situations like these indicate that Sweden has lost its way and is ignoring basic human rights, joining Germany in repressing educational freedom. It is important that free people stand up to governments who persecute their own people.
Liberal Party politician Lotta Edholm called for the change to the country’s social services law in a Jan. 10 column in Aftonbladet, a prominent Swedish newspaper. She writes: “The social services law should be amended so that social services are able to intervene when children are kept away from school by their parents—often for religious or ideological reasons.”
Jonas Himmelstrand, president of the beleaguered Swedish Association for Home Education, told HSLDA that Edholm’s view that homeschooling is incompatible with democracy “turns freedom upside down.”
As we have previously reported, the climate for homeschooling has continued to deteriorate in Sweden since June 2010, when Parliament passed a new education law that allows homeschooling only in “exceptional circumstances” and makes it possible for parents to be criminally prosecuted if they don’t send their children to school. However, the Swedish Court of Appeal has agreed to review three different cases in which government officials denied permission to homeschool.
We oppose views like those of Edholm in order to prevent them from taking root here in America—in fact, there are already some who have expressed similar ideas in the American legal community, including Law Professor Martha Albertson-Fineman. In her book What Is Right for Children, Albertson-Fineman makes the argument that it is not enough that children have the opportunity to go to public school, they must all go to public school—meaning that homeschooling and private schools should be banned.
We will continue to defend homeschooling families in Sweden and other European countries until we win. These situations demonstrate why it is important for American homeschoolers to be interested in what happens overseas: by fighting these ideas wherever they occur globally, we can prevent them from gaining traction here.
Mike Donnelly, Director of International Affairs