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OFFBEAT

Swedish parents livid over girls’ sex book

Parents of children at a Swedish primary school are in uproar after discovering that a book aimed at children explaining the female sexual organs is available in the school library, according to a report in the local Gefle Dagblad (GD) daily.

Swedish parents livid over girls' sex book

”I was shocked. I really didn’t think they would have that kind of book,” said Linda Westberg, mother of a girl from the school to the newspaper.

Another mother, whose 7-year-old daughter brought the offending book home, agrees.

”It describes masturbation and what happens in the body when a person gets horny. I want children to be allowed to be children for as long as possible,” she said to the paper.

The book that sparked the controversy is entitled “Lilla Snippaboken”, employing a common Swedish slang term for vagina, and is written by Swedish author Dan Höjer

The book covers most of what there is to know about female genitalia.

From the book, the girls can learn about what their sex organs look like, what female arousal is and what it is like getting your period.

The book, which was published in 2004, also brings up the way people have viewed the female sex throughout history and touches upon 12-year-old girls’ own thoughts about sex and masturbation.

According to GD, it also explains words that are connected with female genitalia like ‘tampon’ and ‘discharge’, and with sex, like ‘making out’ and ‘petting’, as well as four-letter words in common usage in Sweden.

Höjer is also the author of a book about the male sexual organs, “Lilla Snoppboken”, which describes the male genitalia, and is aimed at young boys.

However, parents of the children at the Gävle school want the book pulled from the shelves of the library or at least for the teacher to limit the children’s access to it.

But Anki Gustravsson, the acting principal at the school, does not agree that it is wrong for the school library to have childrens’ books about genitalia on its shelves.

”This book is classed as material for sexual education aimed at children. We have students up to the age of eleven at this school and this book is very popular with the older kids,” Gustavsson said to GD.

She also said that as the four-letter Swedish slang terms for boys’ and girls’ privates start being bandied about, it is useful for the kids to have somewhere to have it all explained.

According to Gusatvsson, the teachers will have a meeting to adress the parents’ concerns, but said that there are at present no plans to pull the books about boys’ and girls’ sexual organs from the library’s collection.

”That would be censorship and we don’t do that here,” she said, stressing that the school doesn’t foist the book onto the kids but simply have it available if they need something explained.

According to the national curriculum of Swedish schools students between the ages of 7 and 9 should be aware of the name and the function of the different body parts and children between 10 and 12 should have been informed about puberty, sexuality and reproduction.

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EDUCATION

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. 

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