The Dominic Johansson Case


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                                                           Dominic and his mother Annie
Last June, 7-year-old Dominic Johansson and his parents had boarded a flight from Arlanda, Stockholm to India. Minutes before the plane was supposed to leave the gate, police boarded the plane and arrested the family. Later Dominic was separated from his parents and brought to a foster family on the Swedish island Gotland where he grew up with his parents Christer and Annie.

Dominic and his parents were on their way to relocate to India, where Dominic’s mother Annie was born.  

The police acted on a court order to immediately take custody of the boy as the Social Services on Gotland had accused the family of not taking proper care of the boy, he had not had his health check-up and he also had neglected teeth. The social services also acted on a report from the local school board, claiming that Dominic had been deprived his rights to a proper education and social interaction with other children by not having been sent to school.

The parents had allegedly been homeschooling their son with some support from the principal of the school . Eventually for reasons unknown the principal discontinued the cooperation with the parents and contacted the social services that went to court and issued a fine of SEK 250 per day the child was not sent to school. The family did not pay the fines and they did not send their child to school.  

Homeschooling is allowed in Sweden (Skollagen paragraph 4) as long as the home schooling plan is approved and the authorities approve of the special circumstances that would qualify for home schooling. Dominic’s parents wanted to home school Dominic as he himself had expressed a wish to not go school as the environment would be stressful for him, his parents also thought that it was better to home school and prepare for a life in India, than enter Dominic for a short period in a Swedish school.  It is unclear if they ever filed a request for home schooling with local authorities or if they made an oral agreement of the principal of the school their son should have attended.

Dominic is still, more than four months after being taken from his parents, in a foster family. Christer and Annie, had to cancel their relocation to India and are now fighting the Swedish authorities on their right to care for their son. Read more updates on the family’s blog http://dominicjohansson.blogspot.com/

The chairman of the Children and Youth Board (Barn-och Ungdomsforvaltningen) on Gotland, Lena Ceilon, claims in an interview on helagotland.se that she will continue to fight for how she interprets the Swedish law, that it is the obligation for the parents and the plight of the county of Gotland to assure that the boy goes to school.

 The US based advocacy group Home School Legal Defense Association, HSLDA, with 87 000 members in 36 countries heard about this story and has reported on this case to their members. The members have been encouraged to act by emailing the local authorities on Gotland. They have been overwhelmed by the amount of emails sent in this matter, and not only the amount but also the tone and threats in some of the emails. You can read what HSLDA has to say about this matter on,http://laiglesforum.com/2009/09/07/home-schooled-boy-snatched-from-plane-in-sweden/ , note that on the same page the HSLDA warns that Obama wants your child’s soul.

This is a tragedy for Dominic, a little boy that now must live away from his parents because of mistakes made by adults, his parents did not pay attention to the formal way of apply for home schooling and authorities that decided that the child was in danger staying with his parents.  With the known facts in this case it looks like the problems could have been resolved in a way that did not harm the boy. The question is also why this case, still after four months has not been resolved.  The matter was obviously considered so urgent that uniformed police needed to storm a plane ready to leave take the family into custody and later separate them from their son.

Now four months later the family is still waiting for the final verdict.  It is remarkable that a politician, Lena Ceilon, that has been elected to watch over the welfare of children and youth, puts herself above the Swedish School Law and claims that she is going to fight for the boy’s right to go to school when she should have made sure that parents that do want to home school, an alternative that is allowed by the Swedish law, get the proper instructions on how to apply for this option. The fact that uniformed police was used in a law enforcement activity involving a child is against Swedish praxis and inhumane.

 There are certainly quite a number of adults that used more force than needed to resolve this matter.  The email bombing of the employees of the Social Services, encouraged by HSLDA, is irresponsible and, yes, childish and an obvious way for an organization to abuse a situation and innocent children for their own cause more than to bring clarity to the situation and actually make sure that all sides of the case is presented to the public.  

It is good that cases like this gets their fair share of publicity so that routines and laws can be scrutinized by media and citizens. Hopefully the case of Dominic will soon be resolved in the best interest of the the child. The family has reported the incident to the Swedish Justitieombudsmannen (JO) The Parliamentary Ombudsman who is supervising the public authorities. The JO will look into the case and decide whether the authorities misused their powers.

Comments

1 - There is an error in this article. The link posted (referring to Obama wanting your children's souls) does not belong to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Instead, it goes to a website called laigle's forum, which is not affiliated with the HSLDA. And HSLDA has NEVER encouraged anyone to send threatening emails or engage in any violent acts. Please make the necessary corrections promptly. Thank you.

2 - I would be more carefull into paired child neglet with homeschooling. Sadly there are kids that are neglet by their parentes, schooled and homeschool ones. After reading this article I'm not quite clear if the State it's sueing those parents because the homeschool or the neglet or if they see both as one issue.<br />It's important to make clear this, is it a case against child abuse? or is it against homeschool? <br />

3 - @Andrea
The Swedish state is not suing the parents they are prosecuting them for not sending their child to school as required by law, the parents did not have approval for home schooling and neither did they send their child to school, the law is the same for US citizens, all children must go to school. There is also a questions if the parents neglected their child by not sending the child to dentist or physician. Dental and health care for children under the age of 18 is free in Sweden. This is not really about home schooling eventhough the politician Lena Ceilot made the mistake to mix her own ideas about home schooling into the case. I agree with you that child neglect and abuse does not necessarily have to do with home schooling.

4 - @Jason,
I stand corrected, I found the link in an HSLDA article about the case, however, the views expressed in the Laigle's forum is obviously not those of the HSLDA. In the article above there is no mentioning of HSLDA encouraging their members to write anything hostile or threatening. However there were several such emails received by the social workers on Gotland. There have been some new developments in the case and I will write a follow-up article on it. Again, thank you for your observations.

5 - Thank you for your concise and informative article. I am planning to write to the appropriate authorities in Sweden about this situation, but wanted to educate myself with the facts first. Your excellent article has been very helpful.

In addition, I appreciated the personal insights you have shared. I too am struck by the thought that it was all so unnecessary and out of proportion...

On the surface of things, whatever the infractions of bureaucracy or protocol the Johanssons may have committed, and whatever concerns the social services of Gotland may have had to pursue, it would seem a far more reasonable course of action to simply open a discourse with the family, than to storm a plane.

Furthermore, if Socialtjänsten's concerns for Dominic were found to have merit, surely they could have supported the family in complying with the law with Dominic at home, instead of subjecting him to the trauma of removing him from the care of his parents.

Thank you also for taking to task the inappropriate behavior engaged in by adults on all sides. I am a homeschooler, and a Christian, and understand the deep alarm and distress people are feeling about this apparent abuse of power against an innocent Christian, homeschooled boy.

But frankly, some of the disrespectful comments I have seen directed toward the Swedish authorities on some of the websites highlighting the Johansson's plight have made me cringe. (Just to clarify - the Johanssons themselves have not made these comments - on the contrary, they have appealed for civility and courtesy in all communications of those writing in their behalf).

I have lived in Sweden, and know it to be a great land, and the Swedish society to be founded upon the noblest of ideals. We need look no further than our own personal lives to see that mistakes can be made, even with the all the benefits of education, sound values, and good intentions.

I wonder how the writers of these messages would react if the tables were turned, and American authorities were receiving a deluge of rude letters from Swedish citizens accusing them of ignorance, wickedness, backwardness, and tyranny against their own people?

I am happy to say that I have seen far, far more intelligent and courteous remarks than ugly ones, but nevertheless your comments are timely.

Let's hope that all those who lift the pen or tap the keyboard in behalf of Dominic Johansson will not forget that this is not about homeschooling, religion, or politics; it is about a little boy. Too many on both sides seem to be protecting egos and agendas, instead of protecting a child.

Best wishes to the Johansson family; Dominic has now been in state custody for eight long months. May he soon return home.

6 - The real question seems to be, "Why are the Swedish authorities keeping Domenic?" They were actually on a plane, moving back to Domenic's mom's homeland, and they had to go in and snatch him? That seems like retaliation, not concern. Domenic's parents had no criminal charges against them, they had planned to move to India for several years (and had lived there before) and as they were awaiting takeoff the Swedish authorities come and snatch their child? This doesn't seem like concern at all. It seems like revenge.

7 - @Jennifer. This is also something I ask myself, what was the reasoning behind taking the child when the family was emigrating to India. Everything the Swedish authorities considered bad had happened in Sweden under their watch.

8 - I am the editor of Laigle's Forum, the web site that first brought this case to the world's attention. My article prompted WorldNetDaily to write about this, which attracted the attention of the HSLDA.
One of the commentators mentions threatening emails and violence.
We have never advocated violence or threatening emails.
If you find such mention at my site, please send it to my attention at
zoilandon@msn.com
and we will delete it.
However, we do not believe such mention exists.
BTW, for your information, at this time, Christer and his wife are still barred from seeing their son.
Thank you.

9 - I'm glad that you acknowledged the mistaken reference to HSLDA, but you should CORRECT the mistake, instead of expecting people to read the comments and a possible follow up article. You are misleading readers.

10 - @Don Thank you for the update. Interestingly enough very few people on Gotland know about this case as the local media has been quiet about it. I am preparing an update and appreciate the news you send to me.

11 - It's probably time to move on and stop berating the OP for the mistake that has clearly been apologized for.

12 - The Swedish authorities doesn't seem the be the same as when I lived there. You would not see them go after Muslims like this. They did this cause the boys family are Christians and wanted to raise him at home with Christian values outside of the substandard teachings of government run school used to dumb down the population much like here in the US.

13 - Sweden is a totalitarian country. The state does whatever it wants to whoever it wants without consequence. The medical system is an absolute nightmare, abusing and killing sick people. It's sick, sick, sick!!!

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