By Peter J. Smith
STOCKHOLM, March 2, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two major legal defense organizations for homeschooling rights are now examining options for a Christian Swedish couple whose seven-year old son was seized by Swedish police and social workers, because his parents chose to educate him at home.
Nearly eight months have passed since Christer and Annie Johansson, with their young son Dominic, boarded a plane to move to India. With one minute before takeoff, Swedish authorities arrested Christer and Annie and whisked Dominic away into the custody of social services.
Since that June, authorities have allowed the parents only one-hour visits with their son – once every five weeks.
In a public statement, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) said they are now working together to advise the family and examine all available avenues to help reunite them with their son, who has been living with a foster family.
Last December, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden rejected the Johanssons’ final appeal, siding with social workers who reportedly insisted that they were protecting Dominic’s “right to education” against his parents. Social workers also took issue with the parents’ decision to forgo vaccinations for Dominic and dental treatments for two baby teeth with cavities.
“It is so inhuman, it is so cruel how these people are treating this family,” Mike Donnelly, an HSLDA attorney involved with the case, told LifeSiteNews.com. “They are treating this family like they are criminals, like they somehow did something to hurt this boy.”
“They were taking care of him for seven years and he’d never been sick. He was always provided with what he needed and plenty of toys and opportunities to learn,” said Donnelly.
Donnelly said it is legal in Sweden to forgo vaccinations, and that since Annie’s relative is a dentist in India, they were intending to take Dominic to see him. The heart of the case, he said, consists in the Johanssons’ decision to educate Dominic at home.
Both Christer and Annie were seeking to homeschool Dominic in conformity with the law; because they were leaving for India, they argue, it did not make sense to keep him in the state school. Annie is a citizen of India. According to the Johanssons, school authorities told them they only needed to contact the principal at the local school to supply them with the appropriate study materials for Dominic. However, the principal denied them the materials, had the school board fine them, and then contacted social services to investigate the family.
Donnelly said that HSLDA and ADF were looking to open another legal proceeding in Sweden’s courts and were mulling other avenues through international tribunals.
In the meantime, both Christer and Annie have been cooperating with social workers in hopes to get closer to being reunited with their son. HSLDA revealed that Christer and Annie were both visited by Swedish social workers inquiring about their current ability to take care of Dominic, but a Swedish lawyer told them on condition of anonymity that far from signifying the imminent return of Dominic to his parents, the visits were intended to force Christer and Annie into “complete subjugation and compliance with the system.”
The whole experience has taken a physical and psychological toll on the parents, who have been separated from their only son. Donnelly revealed that they have been slowly recovering from the shock, and although Christer has held strong throughout the ordeal, Annie has been in the hospital several times for treatment of depression and a heart condition.
Yet Sweden appears to be following the lead of Germany in making homeschooling completely illegal. Donnelly revealed that now Sweden’s parliament is debating a new law that would allow for homeschooling “only under ‘extraordinary’ circumstances.”
“Furthermore, this new law repeals a prohibition of criminal sanctions for violating that law. So today if you violate that law, they can’t come after you criminally in Sweden” although they can impose fines, said Donnelly. “But once they pass this new law, they’ll be able to go after parents criminally.”
Contact information for Swedish officials regarding the Johansson family:
The social workers’ supervisors:
Kristina Djerf firstname.lastname@example.org
Marika Gardell email@example.com
Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt
Telephone: +46 8 405 10 00
Mailing Address: Rosenbad 4, SE-103 33 Stockholm
Minister Maria Larsson
Ministry for Elderly Care and Public Health, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs
Telephone +46 8 405 10 00
Fax +46 8 723 11 91
Mail Address: Fredsgatan 8; SE-103 33 Stockholm
Blog about Dominic Johansson