Thursday, April 22, 2010

A different kind of Stockholm Syndrome

I'm pressed for time this afternoon, but I didn't want to forget to post this outrageous story:

STOCKHOLM, April 21, 2010 ( – Swedish authorities will convene soon to decide what to do about seven-year-old Dominic Johansson, who was seized by Swedish police and social workers last year because his parents chose to educate him at home.

The Home School Legal Defense Association reports they have learned that the "Swedish Social Services Committee" has scheduled to meet on April 23 to decide whether or not they will return custody of Dominic to his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson.

In June, the Johannsons watched in horror as police snatched their son off the plane they were taking in order to move to Annie’s homeland of India. Police boarded the plane just one minute before its scheduled take-off and placed Dominic in the custody of social services.

Since that day, authorities have allowed the Johanssons only one-hour visits with their son – once every five weeks.

"Sadly, there has been no other change in the status of 7-year-old Dominic Johansson, forcibly separated from his parents, Christer and Annie, more than 10 months ago,” HSLDA said in a statement. “Dominic continues to be held in state custody in a foster home. His parents are allowed monitored visits with him only once [for an hour] every five weeks. The situation remains one of intense difficulty for the family.”

See, if you're trying to homeschool in Sweden, apparently moving to a different country in order to be free to homeschool is not an acceptable way to thwart the government goons who think the state owns the child.

There are links at the original article to help you express your outrage directly to Swedish officials. In the meantime, I'm toying with the notion of encouraging homeschoolers to boycott every product made in Sweden or sold by any company headquartered there. There's a helpful list here, if anyone thinks this might be a good idea; for myself, I'm thinking that the only power big enough to thwart the will of an out-of-control government are those huge corporations who rely on international sales (particularly lots and lots of American dollars) to keep going.

If you've got better ideas, please mention them in the comment box! Like I said, I'm a bit out of time today--but the whole notion that a government could deprive a family of their son for the "crime" of homeschooling, even when that family was in the very act of moving to a less-totalitarian country, should give everyone chills.


chimakuni said...

Flabbergasted ... totally - but not surprised and my concern is that this too could come to our nation - as a former home educating parent I am grieving for this family and for this little boy caught up in this horrific state of affairs.

Lindsay said...

Definitely got chills!

Lindsay said...

But at least they have nationalized health care...

SherryTex said...

Beyond creepy.

Coffee Catholic a.k.a. Sheep Slave said...

Nationalized health care that will soon decide who lives and who dies. "Mercy killing" and all...

Mary Bennett said...

I didn't realize we got anything from Sweden, I thought it was all China!

Anonymous said...

There is little likelihood that such an action would happen here any time soon.

Swedes believe that children have certain inherent rights, and some of them override parental rights.

The law giving mothers 18 months of paid leave for each baby recognizes the "right" of a baby to be cared for by a parent, for example.

So while this action is draconian - and only allowing a child to see his parents for a supervised hour every 5 weeks is horrendous unless said parents were abusers (no such evidence here, right?) - it flows out of cultural attitudes that are not about to take over here.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Definitely not going to happen here. It has been recognized constitutional law since 1925 (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), that "children are not mere creatures of the state." Also look at Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000),

I'm not wholeheartedly committed to or opposed to home schooling. It can faciliate the family choosing to march to a different drummer, or it can subject children to some very narrow controls of their interaction with other people and a free market of ideas. Forcible intervention of this nature by police is horrendous.

Melanie B said...

"The law giving mothers 18 months of paid leave for each baby recognizes the "right" of a baby to be cared for by a parent, for example."

So what ever happened to the right of a seven year old boy to be cared for by his parents? I'd argue seven year-olds need their parents too.

As far as "cultural attitudes that are not about to take over here" I wish I could be so sanguine. On the contrary, the past few decades have seen parents willing to cede more and more of their rights to the state and much more of an attitude of child's rights that can somehow be in conflict with parental rights. There is a growing ideology in this country that the state has a vested interest in indoctrination of children that runs counter to the parents' rights to choose how their children should be educated. Such as the recent case in Massachusetts in which a father was not allowed to opt his kindergarten child out of mandatory class about tolerance of same-sex relationships.

This attitude is already being argued in court in the US.

I think parents have every right to opt their children out of the so-called free market of ideas, especially when that market is awash with immorality.

Fabiola said...


There's a facebook group you can join too:!/group.php?gid=346022854609&ref=ts

"Return Dominic Johansson to His Parents"

Anonymous said...

How can the country of Sweden think that institutionalization of 'parenthood' is beneficial to the children? How can it justify punishing parents by 'punishing' the children? That's my gut reaction.

Aren't there studies that show depriving children of parental love and affection is detrimental to the psyche of the children. In light of infrequent visitation, wouldn't limiting time to an occasional visit be cruel and unusual?

This seems truly a case of throwing the babies out with the bath water.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Melanie, there is no doubt about the cultural attitudes, which are typical of why "social work" ceased to be worthy of respect when it transitioned from the voluntary efforts of Jane Addams to become "gummint work." I'm not even saying there is no role for child protective services, but it needs to be carefully constrained.

When cultural attitudes are surging, it is time to hold tight to the Constitution and learn how to talk about what is really there. Although it is, as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr agreed, just a piece of paper, it is pre-requisite to the existence of a federal government. Time and time again, cultural attitudes have been turned back by astute use of its timeless premises.

A good recent example of good work by the courts in this regard is Calabretta v. Floyd, 189 F. 3d 808 - Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 1999, ( A google search will turn it up at several other sites.

In a nutshell, the appellate court rejected a host of arguments by a social worker and a police officer who attempted to justify a warrantless search of a family home, and intimate inspection of children who furiously objected, based on a vague anonymous phone call. These kinds of well reasoned opinons are gold when someone is throwing cultural attitudes in your face, especially when that person sincerely believes their preferences have the force of law or are commonly accepted. They are not.