Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sweden's Smacking Law Hypocrisy

Sweden has been promoted by proponents of the anti-smacking bill as a benchmark for good child abuse/parental authority laws. However, the opposite of this is true. In this article, acclaimed Swedish family lawyer Ruby Harrold Claesson exposes the hypocrisy of the smacking law in Sweden.

On August 21, Sweden awoke to the first part of the government report that was commissioned to investigate the abuse of children who had been in state care between 1950 - 1980. The report was commissioned following the documentary "Stolen Childhood" that was broadcasted in Nov. 2005. (I showed it for you when we were at Renton's & Merilyn's home.)

Between 200 000 - 250 000 children were in foster homes and orphanages during the period 1950 - 1980. Today, many of them are suffering from mental disorders, others have broken relationships, poor education, low self-esteem, difficulty to find work or chronic unemployment, have become substance abusers and many are dead mostly due to overdoses, suicide or gang killings.

So far 62 persons have been interviewed by the commission. Another 120 persons are still to be heard. They have told gruesome stories of the abuses that they suffered in their foster homes or the orphanages in which they were placed. Light smacks and other forms of discipline that were acceptable before the passing of the anti-smacking law are not taken into account: only that which constituted assault or gross bodily harm and which under normal circumstances could have been prosecuted if the reports from the children and/or their parents had been heeded, have been recorded.

The former foster children tell of how they were beaten with brooms, leather belts, punched, deprived of food, made to eat food that they had vomited, sexually abused, insulted, pushed down stairs, held under water etc. Some of these crimes were committed after 1979 - the year of the passing of the anti-smacking law. The documentary about Ekbacken "treatment home" where more than 20 youngsters were placed between 1980 - 2003, (I showed that one too when we were at Renton's & Merilyn's home) showed how youngsters were removed from their parents care because they had been smacked, then placed at Ekbacken where they were severely abused.

It is quite interesting to hear the reactions of the head of the commission, Göran Johansson. "It was much worse than we had expected. None of us knew the full extent or depth of their misery," Göran Johansson told Dagens Nyheter. "We feel a sense of desperation, and indeed rage, with respect to the stories we have heard," he said.

"They tell of systematic abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to care for and protect them as children. There was everything from ruthless exploitation by means of physical labour to serious assault, psychological terror and rape," he added.

Maria Larsson, the minister of Health and Welfare said: "I am very upset over the fact that so many children were so badly treated while they were in state care in Sweden". "I feel numb when I read the report. At the same time it is necessary that these stories come out in the open so we can see what has been hiding in our Swedish history. It is a dark history, she said. (Sweden's dark history also includes the forced sterilisation of ca 60 000 mostly women from 1936 - 1976 when the law was repealed.)

The NCHR is pleased that the Swedish government is now in possession of the report into the conditions for the children who were former residents in foster homes and orphanages. It is however of utmost urgency that the government should investigate the conditions of the tens of thousands of children and young people who are living in foster homes today.

Neither the social authorities nor the police listen to the reports of abuse that the foster children, their parents or others make on their behalf. Not even reports made by lawyers are treated with any degree of seriousness.

I only hope that the government will not wait another 20 or 30 years to investigate the conditions of the children in the so-called "family homes". These children are suffering abuses similar to those unearthed by the foster home abuse commission.

See also Sweden to probe years of abuse in children's homes and Foster home child abuse worse than expected,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When good parenting becomes a crime

World Net Daily Exclusive Commentary | August 22, 2007

Bob Dylan's song "The Times, They are a-Changin'" accurately described the turbulent 1960s in America. Today, countries like New Zealand and Germany are embracing their own times of change as they take from parents the God-given right to discipline and educate their children.

The New Zealand Parliament recently followed the lead of many European Union countries when it made spanking of children, or "smacking" as they call it, a criminal offense. One Parliament member, Pita Sharples, hailed the new law as an important step toward a "brave" new world. "Our support will not be popular with many people ... but we are asking New Zealand to be brave, to look at the possibility of a culture where we don't hit our children."

In Germany, as WorldNetDaily has reported, families who seek to homeschool their children are battling a government that claims it must prevent "parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions." Parents of homeschooling families, many of whom are Christian, are being arrested and their children forcibly removed to public schools and foster homes because Germany claims its "obligation to provide for education" includes the exclusive right to produce "responsible citizens who participate in a democratic and pluralistic society" – a category that apparently excludes homeschoolers. The European Court of Human Rights gave its stamp of approval last year to this recent tyranny by the German government

Even some in America are trying to emulate these assaults on parental authority. In February of this year, California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber proposed a law that would make spanking of children younger than 3 years old a criminal offense punishable by a fine and/or jail time. Fortunately, the bill did not pass this time. And in many states there are increasing attempts to regulate and restrict the growing trend of homeschooling, which seems to pose a threat to proponents of government-monopolized education.

Our Western legal heritage has always recognized that the law of nature and nature's God has given parents – and not the state – the authority to control the education and discipline of their children. Any government usurpation of that family jurisdiction is an unwarranted abuse of power that runs contrary to historical, legal and biblical precepts.

In his "Commentaries on the Laws of England" (1765), Sir William Blackstone wrote that while parents have duties to their children with respect to "their maintenance, their protection, and their education," the duty to provide an education is by far "the greatest importance of any." Blackstone further explained that a parent would not confer any considerable benefit upon his child if, after bringing him into the world, "he entirely neglects his culture and education, and suffers him to grow up like a mere beast, to lead a life useless to others and shameful to himself."

The duty to provide an education for one's child springs directly from the biblical requirement to "[t]rain up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." In Deuteronomy 6:7, we are taught the necessity of teaching God's law "diligently unto thy children," and in Ephesians 6:4 to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

If a parent chooses to educate his or her child outside of the home, Blackstone explains that the parental authority is then delegated "to the tutor or schoolmaster of his child; who is then in loco parentis [in the place of a parent]." Government schools, therefore, have no inherent right or duty to educate children, but operate solely on that authority delegated to them by the parents. They certainly have no authority, as the German schools claim, to squelch "separate philosophical convictions" cherished by parents who choose to exercise their authority to teach their children at home.

Regarding discipline, Blackstone noted that a parent "may lawfully correct his child, being under age, in a reasonable manner, for this is for the benefit of his education." Of course, child abuse and physical mistreatment are not considered to be "in a reasonable manner" and are rightfully declared to be unlawful. But reasonable discipline, including spanking, should never be prohibited by law.

The Bible is explicit that spanking is part of the authority of a parent. "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Proverbs 22:15). I can still remember, as a boy, my father's words to me before he gave me a good taste of his belt of correction for my disobedience. I now realize that it did "hurt him more than it hurt me" because he loved me. As the Scriptures instruct, "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24).

Blackstone spoke of a timeless truth when he said that an undisciplined child grows up to be an undisciplined adult, "like a mere beast, to lead a life useless to others and shameful to himself." If we allow the state to erode parental authority over discipline and education, we will reap, among other things, higher crime and even lower morality in the next generation. Abandoning God's unchanging law is a sure way to really see the times "a-changin'," but not for the better.