Ombudsmen critical of racist school book

Two Swedish ombudsman offices have added their voices to the chorus of criticism about a school book accused of having racist and sexist contents, but are powerless to do anything about it.

Ombudsmen critical of racist school book

Both the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman (JämO) and Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination (DO) have registered their disapproval with the book, reports the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Earlier this year, both offices received letters from a group of parents from Mölndal in western Sweden who wrote in an attempt to get a hearing for their view that the book was insulting and prejudiced.

“I think you are justified in your reaction to the current book,” wrote the DO in its response.

The DO added, however, that it had no ability to affect legislation on the issue and that the most it could do was “recommend schools undertake a review of the literature. Hopefully the school will accept your point of view and change books.”

The book in question is part of the Förstagluttarna series of books, named for a common Swedish nickname for first graders.

In one passage explains that a little boy with glasses is sitting alone because he is Jewish. Other parts of the book portray girls as being less skilled at mathematics than boys.

Earlier this week another group of parents from Karlskrona in central Sweden urged school officials to take action.

Despite the protests about the book’s lack of gender equality, however, the JämO also said that current law doesn’t allow for the book to be banned from the classroom.

“On the other hand it will be interesting to see how school manages teaching material like this, where it could possibly be a question of some form of harassment,” said JämO’s Johan Gyberg to SvD.

In a statement, the book’s publisher, Natur & Kultur, said it welcomes discussion about the best way to educate young children.

“It’s always useful for us to hear the views of teachers, students, and parents. When it comes to teaching material we believe that teachers have the competence to decide which materials are most appropriate for their students and lessons,” writes Natur & Kultur.


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime