Kids surf for porn at Swedish school

The island of Gotland in eastern Sweden is mulling investing in filters for school computers after a group of seven-year-olds were able to access pornographic material, prompting outrage from parents.

Kids surf for porn at Swedish school

Gotland’s municipal schools currently do not have filters on their 3,500 computers, a fact which came to light this week after the parents of a seven-year-old boy discovered that he had gained access to pornographic sites with a group of friends, reported the local Gotlands Allehanda daily.

The discovery has prompted a renewed discussion within the municipality over the lack of protection offered to the region’s school-children, according to a report by Sveriges Television (SVT).

The issue has been discussed on several prior occasions within the municipality but the prohibitive cost has been a stumbling block, something that the Moderate Party is keen to address.

A motion has been submitted by municipal councillor, Anna Hrdlicka, seeking a review of the situation, a move which has been supported by the Social Democrats.

“School computers, regardless of subject or area, are meant for educational purposes and not for surfing porn,” said Meit Fohlin of the Gotland Social Democrats to SVT.

Several municipalities across Sweden require their schools to employ filters against pornography and violence, although according to several media reports not all of them live up to the requirement.

The argument that adults are the best supervisors for internet surfing children is also prevalent in the debate across Sweden in general and on Gotland, with one unnamed commentator expressing the view that children would come across the information despite the proposed IT restrictions.

“That children gain access is unavoidable. Even if they don’t do so in school, they would at home – children are very curious today. Sooner or later they will come across something that is unsuitable,” he told SVT.

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Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

Children between ages 6-9 years should be allowed admittance to after-school recreation centers free of charge, according to a report submitted to Sweden’s Minister of Education Lotta Edholm (L).

Inquiry calls for free after-school care for 6-9 year-olds in Sweden

“If this reform is implemented, after-school recreation centers will be accessible to the children who may have the greatest need for the activities,” said Kerstin Andersson, who was appointed to lead a government inquiry into expanding access to after-school recreation by the former Social Democrat government. 

More than half a million primary- and middle-school-aged children spend a large part of their school days and holidays in after-school centres.

But the right to after-school care is not freely available to all children. In most municipalities, it is conditional on the parent’s occupational status of working or studying. Thus, attendance varies and is significantly lower in areas where unemployment is high and family finances weak.

In this context, the previous government formally began to inquire into expanding rights to leisure. The report was recently handed over to Sweden’s education minister, Lotta Edholm, on Monday.

Andersson proposed that after-school activities should be made available free of charge to all children between the ages of six and nine in the same way that preschool has been for children between the ages of three and five. This would mean that children whose parents are unemployed, on parental leave or long-term sick leave will no longer be excluded. 

“The biggest benefit is that after-school recreation centres will be made available to all children,” Andersson said. “Today, participation is highest in areas with very good conditions, while it is lower in sparsely populated areas and in areas with socio-economic challenges.” 

Enforcing this proposal could cause a need for about 10,200 more places in after-school centre, would cost the state just over half a billion kronor a year, and would require more adults to work in after-school centres. 

Andersson recommends recruiting staff more broadly, and not insisting that so many staff are specialised after-school activities teachers, or fritidspedagod

“The Education Act states that qualified teachers are responsible for teaching, but that other staff may participate,” Andersson said. “This is sometimes interpreted as meaning that other staff may be used, but preferably not’. We propose that recognition be given to so-called ‘other staff’, and that they should be given a clear role in the work.”

She suggested that people who have studied in the “children’s teaching and recreational programmes” at gymnasium level,  people who have studied recreational training, and social educators might be used. 

“People trained to work with children can contribute with many different skills. Right now, it might be an uncertain work situation for many who work for a few months while the employer is looking for qualified teachers”, Andersson said.