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Bullied Swedish schoolboy given bodyguard

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 5 May 2009, 10:09

Published: 05 May 2009 10:09 GMT+02:00

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The boy, who is 11-years-old, attends Gäverängeskolan in Ockelbo in northern Sweden. The school has long had problems with bullying but the situation has escalated in recent months, writes local newspaper Arbetarbladet.

The boy's parents, tired of what they consider the school's lack of action to address the problem, decided to take the matter into their own hands and employed a bodyguard to accompany their son to school.

"We are desperate, the boy is in a sensitive age. He is 11-years-old and he should be able to go to school without being scared," they told the newspaper.

"He (the bodyguard) is educated and has worked with problem children before. As long as he is there, then the boy won't be subjected to violence."

Sylvia Bergroth, the school's principal, rejects accusations that the school is not acting to deal with the problem.

Story continues below…

The school plans to hold meetings with the social and student support services and has taken measures to stop the violence, Bergroth said.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:08 May 5, 2009 by zeero
Oh, my boss creams at me all the time, can I've one as well?
14:31 May 5, 2009 by JethroGreenmantle
Your boss creams at you? That's a type of workplace bullying I've not come across before!
15:18 May 5, 2009 by dtes
this shows how irresponsible the schools and police here in sweden are, anyone thinking about moving here should take this as a warning and think twice.
16:24 May 5, 2009 by Nemesis
This situation is completely ridiculous. The police should be dealing with this.

Also no one should have a bodyguard in school. If it has reached the point a bodyguard is needed, the school, should be shut, all teachers fired, the students sent to different schools and checked by a shrink, to see what is wrong with there heads.

This is a complete failure on the part of the school and relevant authorities. All teachers and people in authority who have made decisions regarding this should be banned from working with children, for the rest of there lives.

Bullying should be dealt with by the police and the courts.
16:45 May 5, 2009 by GefleFrequentFlyer
This poor boy is going to lead a rough life if he becomes accustomed to having a bodyguard with him at every moment.

"Elin, would you like to meet me for a fika? Nevermind the man at the table next to us with the dark sunglasses and trenchcoat"
18:06 May 5, 2009 by double concerto
Everything seems to be failing in Sweden these days. God help you is all I can say!!!
19:22 May 5, 2009 by DidiE
I think this is actually a very clever idea. If the parents are concerned enough to put money out of their own pocket to make sure their son is safe, it's probably a safe bet that they have pursued every other available action at their disposal previous to this. I would bet that all the other kids being hurt by the bullies are probably trying to stand as close to the body guard as possible during recess, too.

So much is published on mobbing here, and I wonder if it is because there is more awareness of this issue here, or if the incidence is actually higher? At any rate, I think the parents were probably at their wits' end when they did this, and I think it's a responsible action, if the school can't guarantee their kid's safety.
19:58 May 5, 2009 by "green Swede"
one thing these bullies are not is subtle,it's a black an white issue,as soon as they cross the line,they should be stomped on by the powers that be,school, police etc etc are obviously lacking.why should decent kids have to put up with such nonsence.maybe the answer lies with the kids themselves banding together and dealing with these social retards/cowards who are driven by nothing but their own insecurity.btw isn't the word "bully" a bit dandy and the beano esque,i think stealing some quite kids lunch money is the least they do.maybe a case of today's bully,tomorrow's.......? more reason for the police to show closer scrutiny been, they get today's cure and tomorrow's prevention so to speak.
22:13 May 5, 2009 by Kiwi17
How utterly ridiculous. There are certain things kids need to be taught to ensure they live well-adjusted, happy lives; self-reliance, socialization and confidence. This kid will become a virtual leper, his self-image will be either grossly inflated or so low he'll be severely depressed. Bullying should be dealt with by the school, or in serious cases by the authorities - but not like this. The bullying will continue, it will just take more subtle, psychological forms. These parents simply have not thought this through.
23:15 May 5, 2009 by mkvgtired
I recently saw a t-shirt that read "Dont abuse children...They have guns now". This point is especially true when it comes to bullying in schools. Shouldnt the teachers know of the tragedies bullying has caused in US and European schools over the past 10 years? Shame on them.
23:25 May 5, 2009 by Shark99 - The Great Catsby
Hehehe, sue the bastards! That will get their attention, especially when it hits their wallet.
23:50 May 5, 2009 by Puffin
This is an extemely strange story - I've never heard of anything like this - espcially as in the article in the Swedish local paper it says that the parents are NOT paying for the bodyguard/assistant but that it is a 'private person'

Sweden had a very tough law against schools that do not deal with bullying and if the school does not take all reasonable steps to stop bullying they can be forced to pay compensation by Skolinspektion - a couple of months ago one school was ordered to pay 300,000 kronor to a child where the school had not done enough.

It sounds as though the rektor at this school has not been doing her job
23:56 May 5, 2009 by BillyB
what is the body guard actually going to do if the other 11 year old kids try to beat up the lad again?

a "stranger" in a school...im guessing he cant physicallly do anything...

sounds like the only outcome will be a body guard getting removed by police and the kid getting filled in afterwards for being a even bigger baby (in the eyes of the bullies)
00:10 May 6, 2009 by Puffin
The school have a duty to notify social services
01:02 May 6, 2009 by Shark99 - The Great Catsby
Perhaps Blackwater USA has a lucrative new contract on their hands. Oh wait, they changed their name and are no longer "in business."
09:59 May 6, 2009 by elniko
Some kids bring their bodyguards in school and some kids bring their guns...
10:15 May 6, 2009 by HALE
I went through all this with one of my children. I even went to school to protect her, but could not stay every day...very long story,

My daughter was emotionally and physically damanged, we had them even phoning our house, writing in the street, stealing bikes, abuse abuse abuse....The school did nothing, other students wrote letters to the school, they did nothing, I went through Bris, then they put me onto the police, the police arranged victim counselling for her (took a year of counselling) We moved her to a new school that didn't tolerate bullying, the boys from the old school were in the same Ice Hockey team and bullied the kids from the new school to bully her. The school kept every boy after school, addressed them that they needed to be her support, her team, her guards...it worked. She is now is high school, has friends and support.

We are still angry with the parents and the old school, it caused so much pain for the whole family, it completely disrupted life for at least 3 years!

If a school is not addressing it, they try to put the blame on the kid, try to say they have this or that, when in fact they are having "post traumatic stress symptoms" on a daily basis dealing constantly with the bullying.

The parents have done the right thing...let's hope the community round them pick up their game!

Let's hope more than anything the child can get through therapy, because the damage will be really huge if it has got to this stage...it will take a good group of support people round him to get him back on his feet
14:15 May 6, 2009 by Puffin
I think that things have become better since the adoption of the Barn och elevskyddslagen 2006 (child and pupil protection act) - which requires schools to act very proactively in preventing problems and awards compensation in cases where the school has done little or nothing.

However for many schools it appears that it the fear of paying compensation that causes them to act rather than any desire to solve the problem
22:16 May 6, 2009 by buddyob
Bodyguard? Is this school really worth it? What a waste.

And to the principal-- this should be a huge wakeup call for you that you have a fundamentally dysfunctional educational environment. It's time for Sweden to read about The Power of Small-- it works over here. Everyone is so concerned with the big picture (test scores, funding, etc.) they overdo it and miss out on taking care of the small things... like a kid that is so fearful for his safety, he has to have a bodyguard. In school.
03:07 May 7, 2009 by Roger O. Thornhill
What ever happened to standing up for one's self?

Seems everyone is trained to be victims anymore. No surprise so many end up as one.
08:47 May 7, 2009 by skane refugee
Although this case is obviously extreme ... bullying is undoubtedly a huge and growing problem in Swedish schools ...

Although the defining characteristic of adult Swedes is that they are 'konflikträd' (pathologically afraid of any confrontation), Swedish kids have no such fears!! and give the (often under-trained) 'fritids' staff the run around without fear of consequence

... the targets are often those who are 'different' ... and therefore bullying/mobbning risk is one of the biggest potential issues to consider for would-be expats thinking of trying to raise their children here (who by definition will be 'different' to the 100% Swedish kids).

If your expat kids grow up in a high-diversity area, a University town, or go to an international school then they shouldn't be at any higher risk of bullying than back in your home country ... but think carefully before putting them in a school in a traditional Swedish area ...

Agree with Puffin upthread that there are now financial risks for schools/kommuner that tolerate bullying - which is a good development ... but to win a case is an involved and lengthy process and many parents just give up and try to move their child to another school and/or move the family to another area ... after all a 'win' would be just a phyrric victory ... bullies can be controlled (in extremis) during school hours ... but not outside of school of course!

In my sons class of 8 and 9 year olds in an upmarket area, at least 3 children have been 'bullied out of the class', moving schools (and even moving from Sweden in the case of one victims family!) ... not one parent went the financial compensation route ...

One of the remaining boys in the class has 2 foreign parents and literally had to 'fight to survive' in the first years amongst the Swedish kids, and he has been left socially isolated sadly, with his stressed-out expat mother on long-term medication.

As ever there seems to be a big gap between the carefully cultivated image of Swedish life projected by Swedes to the outside world and the harsh reality of life here.
22:52 May 7, 2009 by BWake
There are limits to what you can do to stop bullying. In the USA the student can serve detention. They can be suspended. They can be expelled.

The ideal solution would have the offender remain in school and stop his bad behavior.

Once and a while corporal punishment has its place.
06:46 May 8, 2009 by freethinker
If bullying is such a huge problem in Sweden as well as other crimes. Then obviously what's being done now to curb it is not working. I would suggest Swedes then discuss the matter amounst themselves, either via the net or whichever means they deem expediant. Then once a concensus is reached on how do deal with crime to take the matter to their Goverment for ratification. The choice is yours, it's your counrty.
15:14 May 8, 2009 by Regor
As an 11 year old in Goteborg in the mid 1940's I was a year younger than most of my classmates and was subject of bullying from some class mates.

My parents knew about it but I was told to either run away or fight - and fight I did, mostly losing! There was never any talk about reporting it to the teacher or the parents of the bullies.

Years later I met one of my tormentors and was quite surprised that he had been scared of me because of my tenacity and fighting spirit

So I guess I learned to stand up for myself and I don't think that any harm was done to my young spirit!
18:02 May 10, 2009 by Brigadir
Scenario: More and more kids will get their own bodyguard. This is the first step. The next one is that they will start to provoke their ex-enemyes in the classrooms and they will become the bullyers. Third step: the ex-bullyers will get their own bodyguards and they will start to bully again. Fourth step: the stronger bodyguards will survive. Fifth step: the bodyguards will be replaced by robots. Kids will organize robots fights.

Conclusion: life is only a political game!
18:23 May 10, 2009 by Mzungu
Learned from an early age the best form of defense is attack, if at any time one is provoked.

One of the few occasions size doesn't count.

*entered the advance class in Judo before the age of 13!*
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