Homeschooling Moms

mem82
HSLDA has set up a letter writing campaign to help Swedish family regain custody of their son.
by mem82
April 22, 2013 at 7:29 PM


Parents Fight To Regain Custody of Homeschooled Son

Domenic Johansson was taken from his parents in 2009 because he was being homeschooled. (Photo: Facebook)Annie and Christer Johannson haven't seen their son, Domenic, in nearly four years. He was just seven when he was taken away from them at gunpoint in June 2009. The family was on an airplane about to leave Sweden for their new home in India, where Annie's family is from.

Also on Shine: Can Kids Be Raised in a Gender-Neutral Society? Sweden Thinks So

But the people who took him weren't kidnappers or terrorists -- they were Swedish police officers operating under orders from social service agencies. And social services ordered them to seize the boy—not to prevent him from being physically or sexually abused—but for being homeschooled. At least, that's the official reason they gave when they grabbed him and hauled him off the plane.

Homeschooling is illegal in Sweden, where the perks offered to working parents are great but the regulations imposed by the government are many. For example: People from "non-noble" families are prevented from giving their children "noble" names, and all schools must follow the exact same curriculum.

Swedish officials say that homeschooling is unnecessary because the country provides a "comprehensive and objective" education and restricts religious instruction in school, The Washington Times reported. Permission to homeschool is supposed to be granted on a case-by-case basis, but exceptions to the law are rare.

“Since all teaching in Swedish schools is both comprehensive and objective, there is no need for home schooling with reference to religious or philosophical reasons, and this is why this is not an option in the new Education Act,” Anna Neuman, press secretary for Education Minister Jan Bjorklund, said in 2010.

But the ban was officially passed in 2010 and enacted in 2011—long after police had taken Domenic away from his parents. The fact that the boy was seized during summer vacation, when school was not in session, also makes the case questionable.

According to the the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), at first the Johannsons were allowed to visit their son every two weeks. Then it was every five weeks. Then, in 2010, they were not allowed to visit their child at all. In spite of testimony from friends, family, and social workers that young Domenic was being properly cared for by his parents, in 2012 the government opted to terminate their parental rights and award custody of the boy to the state.

“How can anyone endure this kind of torture for so long, I don’t know," the Johansson's attorney, Ruby Harrold-Claesson, told HSLDA. "It’s unbearable to see how the pride of government officials is wrecking the lives of the Johanssons and others like them. These people have broken the law by taking this boy without justification and keeping him for three-and-a-half years. It’s uncivilized.”

“Sweden’s actions in this case are inexplicable,” said Michael Farris, a human rights attorney and the chairman of HSLDA. “The taking of this child for homeschooling and while the family was moving out of the country is an egregious violation of basic human rights and international law standards. Sweden is a party to numerous treaties that require them to respect the rights of parents to make education decisions and to leave the country if they choose. This is a dangerous precedent if permitted to stand.”

The Johanssons have one last chance to regain custody of their son: they're appealing to the Supreme Court of Sweden. HSLDA is organizing a letter-writing campaign and urging homeschoolers around the world to ask the court to reunite Domenic with his parents; they have set up a Facebook page for people to show support.

“The strain of the forced separation is inflicting unbearable pain and pressure on the family who still live on the same island just miles from where their son lives—yet they are not permitted to have any contact with him whatsoever,” HSLDA said in a statement. Harrold-Claesson pointed out that any email or fax received by the court must be registered and made public.

"Let them know that the world is watching," she said.

Thoughts? Will you send a letter or join them on FB?

Replies

  • KickButtMama
    April 22, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    I, personally, don't think we should help people break the laws of their country. I think we'd be better off helping them change the laws rather than break them.

  • mem82
    by mem82
    April 22, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    You know, I just can't decide how I feel. No, they shouldn't have been breaking the law. Why didn't they just put him in school and THEN move out of county to homeschool? Seems like that would have been the easiest thing to do.

    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I, personally, don't think we should help people break the laws of their country. I think we'd be better off helping them change the laws rather than break them.


  • sha_lyn68
    April 22, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Just another perfect example of why I hate HSLDA. They are supporting breaking the law once again.

  • AutymsMommy
    April 22, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you, in general, on this, what strikes me as odd is that the boy was taken BEFORE homeschooling was made illegal in Sweden.


    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I, personally, don't think we should help people break the laws of their country. I think we'd be better off helping them change the laws rather than break them.



  • KickButtMama
    April 22, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Oh boy, I totally missed that! Which makes me think there must be other mitigating factors besides HSing. 

    Quoting AutymsMommy:

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you, in general, on this, what strikes me as odd is that the boy was taken BEFORE homeschooling was made illegal in Sweden.


    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I, personally, don't think we should help people break the laws of their country. I think we'd be better off helping them change the laws rather than break them.




  • KickButtMama
    April 22, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    I agree. I don't understand why they will throw down and be willing to fight for this family in Sweden when they wash their hands of a homeschooling American parent going through a divorce. 

    Quoting sha_lyn68:

    Just another perfect example of why I hate HSLDA. They are supporting breaking the law once again.


  • OneToughMami
    April 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    I want to know why he was taken prior to the HSing laws?

  • ilana_ny
    April 22, 2013 at 10:43 PM
    There have to be something more to this story. It doesn't make any sense.
  • AutymsMommy
    April 22, 2013 at 11:03 PM


    I would assume so.

    It is odd that they were given no other reason but that they were homeschooling and if it is true that both friends, family, AND social workers have spoke in their favor, I'm wondering if this wasn't the only mitigating factor... kind of.

    Perhaps the law was previously written that it is neglectful (unlawful) to withhold education from your child and the way the law *was* written indicated (or specified) the types of education considered?

    Quoting KickButtMama:

    Oh boy, I totally missed that! Which makes me think there must be other mitigating factors besides HSing. 

    Quoting AutymsMommy:

    While I wholeheartedly agree with you, in general, on this, what strikes me as odd is that the boy was taken BEFORE homeschooling was made illegal in Sweden.


    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I, personally, don't think we should help people break the laws of their country. I think we'd be better off helping them change the laws rather than break them.






  • sha_lyn68
    April 23, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    They have many double standards that can be traced right to their extreme Christian fundamentalism. They will claim when people join that they accept everyone, but their track record proves otherwise. IE they have refused to represent cases that they would normally take if the member family doesn't fit their ideal Christian family mold.

    Quoting KickButtMama:

    I agree. I don't understand why they will throw down and be willing to fight for this family in Sweden when they wash their hands of a homeschooling American parent going through a divorce. 

    Quoting sha_lyn68:

    Just another perfect example of why I hate HSLDA. They are supporting breaking the law once again.



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