Sweden looks to beef up child sex abuse laws

Sweden should extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes and make it easier to require criminal background checks on people who work with children, according to an inquiry submitted to the justice minister on Thursday.

Sweden looks to beef up child sex abuse laws

“The suggestion is that the statute of limitations will not start from the time of the crime, but from the day the victim turns 18,” Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask told the Local.

The suggestion comes from an inquiry ordered by the ministry to examine how Sweden should implement an EU directive about child abuse.

According to Charlotta Riberdahl, who led the inquiry, such a directive may require changes in the Swedish laws concerning child abuse, child pornography and sexual exploitation of children.

One reason for change, according to Ask, is that young children may be unwilling or unable to speak out about their suffering.

“The child might be too young to explain what has happened or be too dependent on the abuser so that the child is too afraid to say anything. In those cases it would be wrong if the government said that it’s been too long since the crime was committed,” she said.

Other changes to the law would allow volunteer organizations such as football clubs and religious organizations to require volunteers and paid employees who work with children to undergo a criminal background check.

The checks would thus allow the groups to know if people interested in working with children had been convicted of crimes like trafficking, murder, violent robbery and assault, as well as different forms of child abuse.

Currently, the right to perform criminal background checks is only been available for actual workplaces like schools, not associations.

“Parents are not required to show an extract from their criminal records when they work with a group of children that includes their own child,” Riberdahl told the Local, but emphasizing that the government should not impede on people parent their children.

However, this exception does not apply if the parent works with groups of children, even if the child is active in the organization but in another group.

The next step for the Ministry of Justice is to consult with relevant organizations and institutions to consider the inquiry’s suggestions.

If no major objections are raised, the proposed changes will be taken into effect on December 1st next year.

Eric Johansson

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Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime