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Killings prompt review of school's actions

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Killings prompt review of school's actions
08:16 CEST+02:00
Officials in Sigtuna are looking into why it took 13 days without contact from the mother before schools contacted social services about the absence of two boys, aged 4 and 8, who were found dead in a lake on Monday.

The 30-year-old mother of the two boys is currently being held on suspicion of murder and prosecutors are expected to file a remand order against her on Thursday.

She was arrested on Monday morning shortly before the bodies of her two sons were located by divers near the Munkholm bathing area in Sigtuna.

The father of the younger boy has said he had a feeling something wasn't right when he spoke with the mother by telephone.

He said he received a call from his ex-partner on Sunday night in which she said that “something unpleasant and strange” had happened to the children.

The father rushed from his home in southern Stockholm to Sigtuna where he found the boys' mother in a state of shock.

While Olof Hülphers, an expert in child law with the organisation Children's Rights in Society (Barnens rätt i samhället – BRIS), refused to comment on the specifics of the case, he nevertheless explained that school officials have a responsibility to act.

“Generally speaking, when contact with a child's parents suddenly stops, action must be taken. When it's no longer possible to reach someone by telephone, that's a clear signal that additional measures are needed,” he told the TT news agency.

Hülphers compared the situation to the work place.

“If you have a colleague that doesn't show up for work and you can't reach the person you're looking for, something has happened. As a colleague, you also have a reaction and think it's unpleasant,” he said.

According to Signtuna municipality, north of Stockholm, procedures were followed in the case, but it is nevertheless investigating the matter further.

“We state that things happened according to the procedures we have and that a notification of concern is just that – a notification about a concern. If we have received reports or indications of problems, the notification would have been stronger and thereafter led to a different course of action,” Sigtuna municipality's Eva Hamberg said in a statement.

The municipality added that the 30-year-old mother currently under suspicion of killing the boys had had no previous contact with social services and that the 4-year-old's preschool had previously had “close and very positive contacts with the family”.

However, the municipality said an internal investigation was underway in hopes that officials can "learn everything we can from these types of exceptional incidents".

In order to show how the preschool, school, and social services reacted following the start of the autumn school term on August 22nd, Sigtuna municipality has released portions of the registry kept by its department of children and youth services.

The registry includes a list of telephone calls and text messages from the school and preschool. Between August 22nd and August 31st, the mother answers the telephone calls and text messages she receives.

But after that, there is a long period with no contact between school officials and the mother.

During the next two weeks, both the preschool and school made repeated attempts to reach the mother of the two boys via telephone, text message, and letters.

On September 12th, the preschool called the father of one of the boys and learned that the mother had a new telephone number. However, officials are still unable to reach the mother on the new number.

Finally, on September 13th, the school called social services and explained what has happened.

That same day, the 8-year-old's teacher, together with another staff member from the school, went to the family's home, but no one opened the door, prompting them to immediately file a notification of concern (orosanmälan) to social services.

Less than a week later, the boys were found dead.

Autopsies of the two boys were carried out on Wednesday afternoon and an additional interrogation of the mother also took place.

However, police refused to release information about what the interview and autopsies may have revealed.

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