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'Okay for teachers to hit students': Swedish court

TT/The Local · 24 May 2012, 08:37

Published: 24 May 2012 08:37 GMT+02:00

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In one case, a teacher was assaulted by a student who was subsequently convicted by the district court in Gällivare, northern Sweden.

The assault took place at a school in Kiruna after a teacher had taken the unruly student out of the lunchroom, at which point the student began to hit and kick the teacher, and also threatened to kill him.

Despite the guilty verdict, the court nevertheless found that the teacher didn't deserve any compensation for the incident because teachers who are responsible for supervising students "must expect that some violence and threats can occur when they intervene".

In justifying its denial of compensation for the teacher, the court compared the teacher's supervisory role to that of a police or security guard.

"A very strange ruling and what really makes is weird is that they say that teachers should be able to tolerate a beating. No, teachers shouldn't tolerate that," Metta Fjelkner, head of the Lärarnas riksförbund teachers union, to Sveriges Television (SVT).

At the same time, however, a Swedish appeals court recently acquitted a principal charged with beating a student.

It cited a Supreme Court ruling stating that it's okay for teachers to use violence against students if it occurs when teachers are trying to keep students under control, the Metro newspaper reports.

While violence against students cannot be used as a form of punishment, it is allowable if it takes place in the course of escorting an unruly student out of a classroom.

Following the ruling, a principal who had been charged with assault for grabbing a student by the ear and forcing him to sit down was subsequently acquitted of all charges by the appeals court.

Story continues below…

The ruling has caused concern among child's rights advocates.

There is an obvious risk that we're heading down a slippery slope when it comes to our view towards violence against children," Åsa Landberg, a psychologist with Save the Children (Rädda Barnen) in Sweden told Metro.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:19 May 24, 2012 by robban70226
100% agreed

Unfortunately many parents have any control of their children and have a lot of spoiled children that do not know the basic social behaviour as respect and discipline, Teachers should not have to put up with that crap, A strong discipline will go a long way to cope for their parents failures. Force with force is fair bully should be heated as a bully, too bad they do not have stronger methods, some ''kids'' deserve an electrical shock, just looking around you on the streets you will see the spoilers social waste

Best regards,
09:23 May 24, 2012 by RobinHood
I guess it's OK to rough up the judges at the Gällivare District Court too. Judges who make idiotic decisions that change people's lives should expect some violence and threats after all.

The appeal court decision seems to uphold a teacher's right to defend him/her self from a violent attack, and to forcibly remove a violent student from the classroom. I can't see a "slippery slope" there Rädda Barnen.
09:50 May 24, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
I would like Åsa about the slippery slope of students being forced to eat dung because there is no control of student on student violence in private schools.

Against that backdrop, a world where teachers can never exert any force on violent students is a world where bullying and school yard terrorism will flourish.

The teacher who was assaulted should be allowed to sue the kid's parents, until the kid is 18, aftere which he can sue the kid for damages himself.
09:59 May 24, 2012 by just a question
If you go to any class from grades 7-9 you'll see:

-students listening to their i-pod instead of listening to the teacher.

-students focus on their expensive cellulars instead of listening to the teacher.

-students seated everywhere except their chairs.

-students that go in and out of the class without asking the teacher first during the whole class, interrupting and shouting.

-students insulting their teachers while the teachers shut up because if he/she says something, the teacher will be the one that will have problems

-students doing anything except what they are expect to do.
12:44 May 24, 2012 by Migga
A teacher shouldn`t expect to be attacked with violence when taking a student to the side. Nor should teachers be allowed to use violence.

But if one side attacks the other the other side has of course right to defend themselves.
13:18 May 24, 2012 by lokalkille
Being a teacher in Sweden is one of the most frustruating jobs. Many kids have no iota of respect. They talk rudely to the teacher, they threaten, they are difficult to correct, etc. I even heard that a teacher cannot seize a student's mobile phone if the student is disturbing with it or not listening to the teacher; becasue it is against the law.

The summary is that Sweden has given too much power/rights to kids in school.
14:04 May 24, 2012 by strixy
If this is the generation that will soon come to power in this country then sorry but you are doomed. Scandinavia has a reputation for raising brats and I guess there is a grain of truth in every stereotype.
15:49 May 24, 2012 by just a question
Correct, you can't take the mobile phone or the i-pod from the student. The student have the right to have it and disturb the class. If you try to take the phone or the i-pod from him, you'll start a fight, and the problem is yours. There is no respect at all. I understand why nobody wants to be a teacher in Sweden. It's one of the most fustrating jobs.
15:52 May 24, 2012 by StockholmSam
Sweden has long complained of a lack of good teachers and the threat of a severe teacher shortage looms large right now. Is it any wonder? What other career even has this discussion? Are there doctors or managers or IT professionals or lawyers or food service workers or bus drivers or trash collectors or anyone else who is put in a situation where violence against them might occur and it should be "expected" in that line of work??? This is a ridiculous ruling and only perpetuates the culture of student disrespect toward teachers (and other authority) that is crippling the potential of Sweden's next generation of thinkers and leaders.

And for those of you who say "Hoorah! Allow the teachers to use force when necessary!" I can only say that you are fools and you have obviously never set foot in a gymnasium. I have taught for nearly eight years and can tell you that the vast majority of teachers are not physically capable of restraining those students who are most inclined toward violence. And to expect them to do so is crazy and ignorant. I am a male in my mid-forties but I stand only 5'8" tall. Many of my students here are easily over 6' and made of muscle. I would not stand a chance and neither would any of the female teachers. If this is the way it is going to be, that teachers are expected to be policemen, then parents must expect that the schools will be staffed with thugs rather than thinkers. Good luck with that.
19:48 May 24, 2012 by Token-not-found
Violence is not the answer- just apply more punishments that hurt the parents- like after 3 strikes they will get no more benefits or the child stops receiveing them.

Stuff like that will ensure the parents will adjust the child's behavior.

Also suspension from school , make children viable to go to reeducation centers for repeated and/or severe behavior.

Stuff like that, no need for violence.
20:13 May 24, 2012 by StockholmSam
One strike, you're out. If a student acts violently one time toward another student or a teacher, the student should be expelled immediately, end of story. If the student wants to come back to ANY school, he/she has to wait one full year before acceptance. Call it a cooling-off period to allow the kid to get his sh*t straight.
21:44 May 24, 2012 by dizzymoe33
This is what happens when you give children all these rights. The only rights they have is to be fed, clothed, and have a safe place to sleep and the ability to wash their clothes and bathe. Outside of that the parents need to step up and be responsible for their children. Take away the cell phones and mp3 players we don't allow them in our schools during class time here, they have to be left at home or kept in their lockers during school hours. And if I were the teacher being attacked I would file charges against that student with the police.
00:03 May 25, 2012 by ramshead
Are the students now in charge of the classroom? Parents are so quick to sue a teacher for the slightest of reasons, maybe it's time to sue the kids parents when the kid attacks the teacher. Teachers are so important in the educating of the children and when they lose control of the class because of some bullies or smart a..,kid with a cell phone or iPod, everyone loses. More power and protection must be given to the teachers if they are do their job.
09:24 May 25, 2012 by Da Goat
The first ruling about the teachers being equal to police and security guards is the good one (the reason for no compensation)

this means that this precedent can be used if a student is unruly the teacher can apply security force on them !

I say give the teachers tazers that will soon get the unruly kids settled down to the job of learning (taze the worst ones and the rest will soon fall into happiness!

I don't agree with striking children but there has to be a deterrent available!
09:46 May 25, 2012 by galexe
Unfortunately Sweden has been lead too much on the stupid principle "what is old is bad, let's change!" with the result of disastruous social experiments.

Putting the child on the same level with the teacher is one example. I know a case in a Stockholm English school where the chess teacher has been fired by the principal just because a child accused him for threatening. My children told me that child was indisciplined and wanted to get rid of chess lessons. He succeeded by knowing the weakness of the Swedish educational system.
11:02 May 25, 2012 by StockholmSam
Da Goat, you are crazy. I have never met a teacher who got into the profession so he or she could taze kids or act like a policeman. That is absolutely not the kind of culture we want to foster in our schools. What student wants to go to a school like that? How do you foster creativity and maturity in kids by placing them in a police state situation for three or more years?

Galexe, I have never heard of a chess teacher. Regardless, I would like to know if, after your children told you the truth about the child who got the chess teacher fired, you went in to the principal and explained to him what your child told you. Or did you simply shake your head in disgust and move on? Many kids, and subsequently parents, know the truth about situations that lead to teachers losing their jobs unfairly, and yet they never say anything to the principal. If the principal is going to listen to anyone, it is the parents.
18:13 May 25, 2012 by james_g
child's (children's?) rights advocates should be aware that rights don't exist on their own - they come with something called responsibilities!
19:16 May 25, 2012 by Douglas Garner
It is certainly frustrating working with the children at times, but in my experience most of the real problems are external to the classroom. Family problems, illness, problems with medications, and difficult diagnosis all lead to the initial problems.

While teachers are expected to adapt their teaching styles to satisfy the needs of thirty children simultaneously, including the most challenged kids, they must also attend to the security and education of those kids. Statistically, I believe there are around two ADD/ADHD diagnosed children in each class in Sweden. In reality, that means that those two children, and the other two who are undiagnosed or have other issues are actually the lowest common denominators... but the are not the same denominators! Each has to be handled differently... but we are expected to treat all children the same. No one can feel better, worse, left out...

At the same time parents are terrified that their children will something to a teacher or another parent at school that will bring the wrath of the social system down upon them. You can't raise a hand or voice against your children, therefore kids know that most threats of punishment are hollow threats as they can do what the want and a parent can do little more than take away the Xbox or bicycle.

For those who want the children and parents to be liable for violence against teachers... don't forget that children in Sweden are virtually exempt from the law until over 15 years old.
19:44 May 25, 2012 by StockholmSam
Very interesting that social services will remove a child from a parent who physically punishes the child but apparently it is okay for a stranger to hit the child.
06:48 June 6, 2012 by shaken not stirred
Robban said, "just looking around you on the streets you will see the spoilers social waste".

Yes, and all the product of a government education system. Is it no wonder why caring parents want to homeschool their children to ensure they actually grow up to be responsible people with a good education? Why does the government think parents are too stupid to educate their own children? Did they not graduate and go on to higher education? Is an unruly school environment full of bullies, both student and teachers, just another form of child abuse?

Would you allow your neighbor to come into your house and tell you how to raise your children? Then why would you allow your government? Are they not just neighbors too?
07:12 October 16, 2012 by KossBoss
"Being a teacher in Sweden is one of the most frustruating jobs. Many kids have no iota of respect. They talk rudely to the teacher, they threaten, they are difficult to correct, etc. I even heard that a teacher cannot seize a student's mobile phone if the student is disturbing with it or not listening to the teacher; becasue it is against the law.

The summary is that Sweden has given too much power/rights to kids in school."


@just a question

well, you're dead wrong! it's stated in the school law as of 2010 that a teacher can confiscate a mobile phone or any objects for that matter if the teacher finds it disturbing during the lesson. The object can be kept up to four days before returning it if it's a repeated behaviour or due to other special circumstances. the teachers have gained much more power today since the new school law was implemented together with the new school reform including a new national disciplinary management system as of 2011. today students at compehensive school level can be kicked out which wasn't the case earlier.

you can read about the law here -> chapter 5, paragraph 22 & 23:

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