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Report prompts child poverty debate in Sweden

Published: 18 Jan 2013 16:15 GMT+01:00

In the summer of 2011, another children’s organization, Save the Children Sweden, released a report that stated that 220,000 children in Sweden lived below the poverty line.

As it was published in time for the political conference Almedalen, the report got a lot of attention in the meda. It even made its way into the keynote speech by then Social Democrat leader Håkan Juholt.

“This is crazy,” the voiceover on the accompanying Save the Children video says.

“Imagine not being able to eat until you’re full or walking around in summer shoes during the winter,” the voiceover on the report’s accompanying video said.

Later on, the term “child poverty” would make its way into several motions put to parliament, the investigative team behind the Sveriges Television (SVT) investigative news show Uppdrag Granskning noted in a report broadcast on Wednesday this week.

Their review showed that many Swedes who work with children thought the term was misleading and questioned what should be considered "poverty" in a relatively wealthy nation like Sweden.

Dallas Diabaté has worked with children and teenagers for 30 years in Malmö’s Rosengård neighbourhood, which is classified as one of Sweden’s poorest areas. He told Uppdrag Granskning that he had never met a child in Sweden who wasn’t getting enough food.

“On the other hand, there are parents who can’t afford to buy their child an iPhone or a computer and that child is considered poor by Swedish standards,” Diabaté said.

Many viewers reacted angrily to the show, however, saying it neglected to mention children in Sweden who really do struggle because their parents or parent have limited income or receive benefits.

The show’s producers and hosts responded that their aim was to look at misleading terminology used by NGOs and charities.

Uppdrag Granskning host Janne Josefsson explained the programme wanted to examine how three NGOs interpreted figures in a way that served their needs.

"Their descriptions are that a quarter of a million children don't have winter clothes, don't get food, and that's an exaggeration," he told Sveriges Radio (SR).

"We examined the three organizations and they aren't used to that and I think we were right to do it asking relevant questions. If they had good answers, then there is no problem. But they didn't."

The organization Bris, which also started using the term in 2011, has now decided to abandon the term “child poverty” for Swedish children and replace it with "social and economic vulnerability".

Also Save the Children, who first launched the term in 2011, has admitted that it gave a misleading portrayal of the situation and has since abandoned the campaign.

TT/The Local/at

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Your comments about this article

19:50 January 18, 2013 by skatty
If you are living in Europe then the standard of poverty would be considered the European standard of poverty not the dried lands in middle of desert with few people in some small villages in central Africa!

The poor is overweighted in rich countries and underweighted in poor countries. So, it's not the food, which should be considered in Sweden to find out who is poor.
14:15 January 19, 2013 by cogito
Different measures for different countries. It all depends on where they set the poverty line.

Let's have a report on the corruption in Save the Children's ranks.
03:23 January 20, 2013 by OrionsBellatrix
What "Milos" said about the US is not true. I am an American and have retired from legal practice. Judges and magistrates do everything they can to keep families together. In cases where crimes have been committed even then parents are released on probation and given second chance to do good in their lives for themselves and their children. Some parents are apathetic and their children are simply a meal ticket for more federal government welfare benefits. Judges cannot make parents behave and so children are removed from family homes and put with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. Sometimes, because of drugs they are in foster homes. It is sad. Bad parents everywhere is a sad reality. The children suffer so much.
07:33 January 24, 2013 by robban70226
Should we pay and give an iPhone or a computer to every ''poor child'' in Sweden?, I pressume this is to be included in the 'welcome package'' of every inmigrant seeking asilo?
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