Swedish children victimized by text message threats

A growing number of children in Sweden are being victimized by threatening text messages received on their mobile phones.

Swedish children victimized by text message threats

“In 1984 a four-year-old girl was murdered. She was strangled by her stepfather. If you don’t send this to 10 people within 30 minutes she will come and sit on the edge of your bed and stare at you with her dark eyes full of sorrow. And on the 13th night she will strangle you slowly to death. Sleep well,” reads one such text message received by children as young as 10-years-old, according to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The principal at Nytorp School near Gothenburg, Ata Ala, is concerned about the effect the messages may have on the school’s fourth graders.

“I think it sounds horrible. It’s clearly over the line if someone is sending this sort of thing to children,” he told SvD.

“Children take this sort of thing seriously. At their age, it’s not always easy to know what’s real.”

Ala said teachers at the school have been in touch with the police about the matter, only to be told that the frightening text messages can’t be reported as a crime because they don’t involve an actual threat.

But Gothenburg police spokesperson Thomas Fuxborg says otherwise.

“If someone is scared and thinks it’s uncomfortable it can be considered a threat and that can be reported. Then it’s a question of what the police can do, and who has sent the original message,” he said.

The haunting message of strangulation isn’t the first to make the rounds in mobile phones belonging to young Swedish school children.

In early September, several 12-year-old girls in Skåne in southern Sweden received a different but no less ominous text message:

“Send this message within five minutes and you’ll manage not to be raped and assaulted within a year, send it to ten different girls, and HURRY UP, this is only a warning!”

At the time, police in Skåne doubted the message could be classified as a threat, but didn’t rule out the possibility.

Maria Wiklund from the Frölunda police department near Gothenburg told the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper it was difficult to determine if the message met the standards for qualifying as an illegal threat, adding that it depends in part on the risk of a crime actually being carried out.

Either way, she said, the police would allow victims to file a complaint.

“If someone is scared, we would obviously write up a report,” she told GP.

According to Wiklund, schools are best equipped to counteract the unsettling text messages through moral and ethical discussions.

“Students need to understand that they can’t believe in the threat and send it on. That is best done in schools where there are large groups of young people with whom the staff can be in contact,” she said.


Red-green coalition takes power in Gothenburg

The Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party have managed to oust the right-wing Moderates from power in Gothenburg, despite failing to strike a coalition deal with the Centre Party.

Red-green coalition takes power in Gothenburg

The Social Democrats, Left Party and Green Party will now take over the municipality with Jonas Attenius, group leader for the Social Democrats in the city, becoming the new mayor.

“We three parties are ready to together take responsibility for leading Gothenburg,” Attenius wrote to TT. “I am looking forward immensely to leading Gothenburg in the coming years.” 

The three parties will lead a minority government, with 40 out of 81 mandates, meaning it will dependent on mandates from the Centre Party to pass proposals. 

The three parties had hoped to bring the Centre Party into the coalition, but talks fell apart on Monday,  October 24th. 

“We our going into opposition, but our goal is to be an independent, liberal force, which can negotiate both to the left and to the right,” the party’s group leader in Gothenburg, Emmyly Bönfors told the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper. 

The end of talks in Gothenburg leave the Social Democrats leading coalition governments in all three of Sweden’s major cities, with Karin Wanngård appointed Mayor of Stockholm on October 17th. 

The Social Democrats had unbroken control in Malmö since 1994, after they regained power from the Moderates, who controlled the city from 1991-1994, and also from 1985-1988.