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Swedish court clears teacher who yanked pupil

Published: 20 Mar 2014 11:59 GMT+01:00

A teacher in Höör municipality, southern Sweden, grew tired of a pupil's behaviour and grabbed him by the wrists, only to pull him out of his chair and out of the classroom.

The child and pupil safety ombudsman said the incident had both caused the pupil pain and left red marks on his wrists and back. The boy's family later demanded 15,000 kronor ($2,300) in damages from the municipality, but local administrators in Höör refused.

The case eventually made its way to the Lund District Court, which ruled that the altercation did not damage the pupil's integrity. The court ruling further stated that it was clear that the pupil's behaviour had disrupted the class and that it considered it to be proven that removing the boy was necessary to restore order.

While the court conceded that the teacher had caused the red marks on the pupil's wrists, the ruling deemed the level of violence justified to get to grips with the situation.

The teacher earlier this year told the regional Skånska Dagbladet newspaper that he had few tools to safeguard a good learning environment in the class room.

"The child and pupil ombudsman has an important role, at the same time there can be situations like this one," he said.  

The deputy head of the teachers' union Lärarnas Riksförbund welcomed the ruling. 

"Had it been the opposite, we'd have an even bigger problem in our schools. It would have meant a teacher can never touch a pupil," Anders Almgren said.

Good behaviour in the classrooms has been a sticking point for Education Minister Jan Björklund, who earlier this month appointed a "decorum commissioner" to look at ways to improve order, and to ensure a productive learning environment as Sweden keeps slipping in international comparisons of pupils' knowledge. 

Sweden's child and pupil safety ombudsman said on Thursday that she would appeal the Lund court ruling.

"My view is that in this case it was unjustified violence," Caroline Dyrefors Grufman told the TT news agency.

She said the ruling opened the door for teachers to resort to violence.

Almgren disagreed.

"It's gladdening that one now supports the teachers in their work to keep a calm work environment in the classrooms," he said. "And that you now know where the boundary is when it comes to enforcing the demands of the school law."

"In that way it could set something of a precedent, as teachers now know approximately what level we're talking about."
 

TT/The Local/at (news@thelocal.se)

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