Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Response to "Swedish children safer?"

Swedish children safer?

This article "The facts of the steps taken by Sweden to discourage the use of physical punishment of children" was created by Carla Guy "carlaguy" at the Families Commission on July 20, 2006 at 16:34 - the day after I arrived in New Zealand - and it was first published at:

At the end of the article they published the link to the Norwegian article about me, with the title: "Wrong skin colour made her unsuitable"

However, they omitted to inform the public about another article in the same newsmedia:
"Strong reaction due to article in about Swedish lawyer"

To start with, it is very obvious that the person who wrote the article lacks scientific skills. She has three footnotes - all of them referring to the same publication by Joan Durrant, the ideological advocate and propagandist. A scientist writes the information once then the next time the publication is referred to he/she writes: "See note XX supra" or "Durrant op. cit. (note 1)"

Also, there are so many inaccuracies in the Families Commission's article it is embarrassing.

Firstly "carlaguy" writes: "She is being brought to New Zealand by the fundamental Christian organisation, Family Integrity, (...)". In fact, it was "Section59 Coalition".

Then to her points:
[1] - "Sweden implemented the change New Zealand is considering over 50 years ago, in 1957."

Rebuttal: Anyone with basic knowledge in Maths can see that 1957 to 2006 does not add up to "over 50 years ago".

[2] - "Since 1957 in Sweden, parents charged with assaulting their children have gone through the investigation and prosecution system in the same way they would if they had assaulted an adult with the added scrutiny that any action taken would have to be demonstrably in the child’s best interest."

Rebuttal: So, she claims that it is in an 11 yr old's best interest that his father between Autumn 1997 - June 2000 was prosecuted and sentenced for forcing the boy to take a shower.

[3] - "A parent in Sweden is extremely unlikely to be convicted of assault if they merely smacked a child. To be convicted first the offence would have to be detected and reported. The police have full discretion to act in the child or the public’s best interest and to determine whether or not a reported assault warranted investigation. Any investigation would have to yield sufficient evidence to show that a criminal assault had occurred. A decision to proceed would have to be demonstrably in the child’s best interest (the benefits of proceeding must outweigh the potential damage). The prosecutor would have to believe that the evidence will support a conviction and that prosecution would be a better route that summary punishment or a waiver of prosecution. Finally, a judge would have to be convinced that the assault took place and that the child’s best interests would be served by punishing the parent."

Rebuttal: Cf Point 2 above and the Case Law I presented to the Select Committee.

[4] - "There has been no increase in the number of parents drawn into the Swedish criminal justice system for minor assaults in the past 25 years."

Rebuttal: Before 1978 no parent would have been drawn before the police and prosecutor like the priest who had slapped his 16-yr old daughter. (See Case 1 in my Case Law). Deborah Coddington quoted Prof. Christian Diesen in her article "Anti-smack campaign fails to pack a punch", ( Diesen said that there are "7000 reports of child abuse per year in Sweden, but only 10 % are prosecuted." These are statistics from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.
Diesen says "only 10% are prosecuted." He wants to see more prosecutions - even if the parents should be found not guilty.

Recent statistics show that there are 11 000 reports of child abuse per year in Sweden and that there has been a 14% increase between 2005 - 2006. See

[5] - "In 1979 a statement was added to the Parents Code which explicitly prohibited corporal punishment."

Rebuttal: Imagine calling a law "a statement"!

[6] - "Sue Bradford’s Bill does NOT introduce a ban on corporal punishment – civil or otherwise"

Rebuttal: But that is exactly what Bradford herself has said.

[7] - "In Sweden parenting education is encouraged and promoted, with parents actively encouraged to seek help with child management difficulties and to learn about alternative methods of discipline. Most parents participate in parent education and support programmes."

Rebuttal: There was no such program, despite the promises that were made. Instead there have been coercive methods, through the police, the prosecutors, the social workers and the criminal and administrative courts.

In recent years there have been private initiatives: New method helps parents regain parental authority

[8] - "Public support for physical punishment has declined since the early 80s. This has been most noticeable among the younger generation of Swedish parents"

Rebuttal: Parents have either to comply or face charges, fines and prison sentences and see their children removed from their homes and placed in foster homes where they will REALLY be abused. Strange enough, what is called child abuse, had a 14 % increase between 2005 - 2006.

[9] - "Over the past 20 years in Sweden there has been more use of care and support measures put in place with families in their homes. These measures are designed to improve parenting support and skills and prevent family breakdown and family violence. This reflects the country’s attitude to improving the quality of life for children and families and respecting their rights. It’s important to know that support people are assigned to many families who are under stress, and when children are removed from their homes this often means that the whole family is removed to a special facility that provides 24 hour support and assistance to families."

Rebuttal: Helping families is not the rule, but the exception to the rule. On Nov. 16, 2001, the former Social Affairs minister, Lars Enqvist, said in a Radio interview:
"Even if 20% of the children who are placed [in foster homes] are orphans (...) I know that many are placed despite the fact that there ought to an alternative for them to remain at home if they could be get support to the family, to mother or father and the children, like the Law of the Social services envisages. It is so simple that one really has to fight for the municipalities to invest money on that."

[10] - "Research shows that since the early 80s to 1995, the number of children in Sweden coming into care has dropped by over a quarter, youth crime has remained the same, and youth alcohol, drug use, rape and suicide rates have all decreased"

Rebuttal: Cf. above.

[11] - "Around one child a month dies at the hands of a parent or caregiver in New Zealand. In Sweden, the average annual deaths attributable to child abuse for the past 30 years or so has been less than one every four years."

Rebuttal: See "Step-parents abuse children to death more often"
The authors clearly state that 258 children under the age of 16 were killed by their parents between 1965 and 1999, ie 7,6 children per year. See also
The Swedish Myth: The Corporal Punishment Ban and Child Death - Chris Beckett and
Two episodes from the New Zealand smacking debate

[12] - " It is important to remember that the Swedish legal system, and their child welfare and child protection services operate very differently to those in New Zealand and care needs to be taken when trying to compare statistics and other information."

Rebuttal: I agree with that statement 100 %.

Finally, please read Prof. Jacob Sundberg's 'The Trip to Nowhere'

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