I was very glad to find your page and think it is very important to have these resources and viewpoints available.
I am a recent immigrant to Sweden from Australia. I moved with my three children to live with my Swedish husband, largely due to the fact that he had work here (and was unable to find a job in Australia) and, as a small business owner myself, my work is quite flexible.
I had always believed Scandinavia and Sweden to be a socialist utopia with fantastic systems to support families. At first I saw the free education, almost free childcare and many low-cost family activities on offer, and thought that things were fantastic. But upon enrolling my children into school and becoming part of society, I realised just how much is wrong.
My three children have been raised to be well behaved, independent and hard working. They attend school to learn and are expected to do well, they are expected to eat what they are given, follow the rules and use manners. These things were a given when we moved here, but things went downhill fast.
My first experience with the Swedish system was when my son began skipping mother-tongue classes at school. I was furious. Lessons are not optional, and it is important for him to keep up in English, which is a far more useful language to be proficient in, world-wide, than Swedish. Upon discussions with him, however, I was told that he wasn’t able to do anything during class because the children were throwing things around the room and misbehaving so badly that he couldn’t learn.
I spoke to the school and teacher, and this was confirmed. Whilst at the school I witnessed children beating each other up in the playground, whilst teachers stood by helplessly. Shocked, I believed that it must be because we live in an area with a high immigrant rate and believed the ‘bad area’ must be the cause of the behavioural problems. I very quickly pulled my son out of the school and enrolled all of my children into the prestigious English school, which advertises itself on its strictness and American-style discipline. But what I found there was that bullying and violence was common and bullies were offered counselling to help change their behaviour, whilst well-behaved children were given constant behaviour tickets for stupid trivialities such as forgetting to take off their shoes for class or lining up the wrong way.
My children very quickly learned how to swear, how to speak back, that violent behaviour towards them from other children (from the native Swedish children) went completely unpunished, that they need take no responsibility for their actions / behaviour, that they had every right in the world, and that if they didn’t like something they could call the police or social workers to get their parents in trouble.
After several months I was being held hostage by a nine-year old that if I didn’t do exactly as he wanted he was going to tell the school and police. I had phone calls from the school for not feeding my child (He was given nutritious meals and expected to eat them whether he liked the vegetables or not), for not abiding by my responsibility to send him to school every day (We took my children to Poland for four days for our honeymoon with some relatives who had flown to Sweden to visit) and for not clothing my child (He had refused to attend school until he found the jacket he wanted, which was in the wash and refused to wear anything else).
Meanwhile my eldest daughter was learning no Swedish, because her class was so badly behaved the teacher simply left the room and couldn’t cope as they had no rights to discipline the children. And my middle daughter was being relentlessly bullied at school with the bullies only offered counselling which led to her feeling depressed and suicidal.
After a year here, my children learnt all kinds of rude behaviour and backchat, refusing to submit to discipline such as having their phones taken away or being grounded.
Eventually it got to the point where I attempted to take my daughters phone for her rude behaviour, she violently wrestled the phone away from me twisting my wrists and received a slap in the face. No marks were left, and I feel the slap was justified and necessary, as do my family who were horrified at seeing the children’s behavioural decline.
I smacked my children at times when they were small, as is common / accepted in Australia but had not needed to do so for a long time. Next thing I am now being chased by Social Services for having broken Sweden’s anti-spanking law.
My children have learnt that they have won. That they can behave however they please, without any consequences.
We are a family of Australian citizens living temporarily overseas, conducting our private lives. My children have not been raised to become spoiled brats, and I don’t wish for this to happen now. I don’t wish to conform to Swedish standards. I find Swedish children on the whole to be self-centred, ill-mannered brats who would not be capable of functioning in the corporate world outside Sweden. I am not seeing success here on any level. Educational standards and behaviour are appalling, and my children would be better served growing up in the third world.
I am disgusted and furious that the state has the right to interfere in family lives, including children stolen from parents for non existent crimes such as home schooling, but cannot fulfil basic obligations such as protecting its citizens from crime.
I truly hope that organisations such as yours can begin to make a difference, and that at some point Sweden wakes up from its follies and looks at the true best interests of families and children, instead of attempting to impose its blanket ideologies, which are not supported by facts. Sweden is such a beautiful and progressive country in so many ways but is failing miserably in raising the next generation.
Renee Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org