In 2010, Sweden passed the New Education Act, a broad piece of legislation intended to make the country’s schools more uniform. Although homeschooling in Sweden was virtually illegal already, this sweeping reform all but guaranteed all Swedish children would receive a comprehensive education from the state, and not their parents or religious leaders.
“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,” said Anna Neuman, the press secretary for Education Minister Jan Bjorklund, “and this is why this is not an option in the new Education Act.”
But before the reforms were even implemented, the Swedish government had made some controversial decisions regarding childcare. One case which caused considerable debate is that of Domenic Johansson. In 2009, seven-year-old Domenic and his parents, Christer and Annie, boarded a plane bound for India. Mr. and Mrs. Johansson planned to move there with their son and begin homeschooling him before the legislation took effect.
Before takeoff, however, several Swedish authorities, including social service workers, boarded the plane and took Domenic away from his parents. That was seven years ago, and the Johanssons haven’t seen their son, now aged 14, since.
Christer Johansson says they were supposed to get their son back in a few days. When they went to pick him up, however, they learned that Swedish officials didn’t plan on giving him back any time soon. Social workers noted Domenic had several cavities, and hadn’t been fully vaccinated. In a country with universal healthcare, it would have cost little or nothing for Domenic’s parents to take care of these basic issues. It’s a concept almost unfathomable to working class Americans, many of whom forgo medical treatment for themselves and their children unless there’s an emergency.
Perhaps that’s why Mr. and Mrs. Johansson’s legal team are reaching out for support from Americans.
According to One News Now:
“The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has been working with the boy’s parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, for years trying to liberate their son from government hands. Attorneys at HSLDA call the state officials abduction of Dominic a ‘terrible injustice’ and are resorting to a last-ditch effort to appeal for Americans’ support to give the parents any hope of ever reuniting with their son, who’s already a teenager with most of his homeschooling years already passed.”
Swedish social workers noted more problems, claiming the Johansson’s household didn’t have enough furniture and that Christer was suffering from mental illness. Despite passing a psychiatric evaluation, authorities refused to turn Domenic over to his parents.
“Imagine — living just miles from your child but being prevented by government authorities from seeing him at all — for years,” a child custody attorney for the HSLDA said. “This is the tragic story of the Johansson family, who were homeschooling in Sweden when they decided to move to India, Annie Johansson’s home country. The three of them were seated on a jetliner in June 2009 when, moments before takeoff, police and social workers boarded the plane and seized Domenic.”