Swedish daycare worker jailed for child sex abuse

A Swedish court on Friday sentenced a male daycare (dagis) worker to six and a half years in prison for four cases of rape and 20 cases of sexual assault against toddlers aged one to three in his charge.

Swedish daycare worker jailed for child sex abuse
The assaults took place at eight of the daycares where the man worked from March 2014 until June 2015. Photo: Victor Lundberg / TT

The 40-year-old man, who worked at 40 different daycares in the southern municipality of Kristianstad as a temp agency employee, pleaded guilty to the charges, a statement from the Kristianstad district court said.

The assaults took place at eight of the daycares where he worked from March 2014 until June 2015.

“The man sexually abused several girls during diaper changes. The girls were between one and three years old. The 40-year-old, documented the abuses himself with his mobile phone camera,” the court said.

“The crimes are considered aggravated because of the way he carried them out, the fact that he abused his position as a child minder, and that he abused the trust he enjoyed,” it added.

“Crimes like these are very rare,” court spokesman Markus Nilsson told the AFP news agency.

The defendant also found guilty of one charge of abusive photography and one case of aggravated child pornography for documenting the abuses and saving the photographs on his computer.

The man, whose name was not disclosed, was caught in July when he sexually abused a young girl at a theme park where he was employed.

During police interrogation he came clean about the daycare assaults and rapes.

He risked a maximum sentence of seven-and-a-half years behind bars but was given a year less than the maximum because he had collaborated with the police investigation.

The court also ordered the man to pay damages totalling 1.6 million kronor ($188,000) to his victims.



‘With Swedish childcare everyone’s a winner’

Our northern Sweden correspondent, Paul Connolly, loves the Swedish "dagis" system - luckily so do his twin daughters, who have just started daycare in the Nordic nation.

'With Swedish childcare everyone's a winner'
British father Paul Connolly's twins are growing up in northern Sweden. Photo: Private

As a father of twins I've garnered a good few new friends who also have been 'blessed' with two toddling whirlwinds. The one thing all my Swedish-residing twin parents give thanks for is the Swedish daycare system, "dagis".

Funnily enough, daycare is also the one aspect of twin parenting that drives my American and British friends barmy. Daycare is essential for parents of twins, if they are to have any kind of life outside nappies, tantrums and feeding. Two toddlers of the same age aren't double the amount of work as one, they're at least treble. They egg each other on, try to impress one another with naughty antics, love a good food fight and compete with one another to present us with the most interestingly-filled nappy.

So, when I told a UK-based twin parent of our plans to send our girls to daycare when they reached 18 months, she was inspired to look into similar provisions for her double troubles. She really wanted to get back to work, part-time. Three days later she sent me an e-mail that made me almost white in the face. For the same number of hours that our two spent tormenting local children in Sweden, she would have to pay 100 times more each month in the UK. No, that's not a typo. There really should be two noughts there. And, no, she doesn't live in expensive southern England; she lives near Newcastle, up north. So, she simply cannot afford to send her boys to nursery and is forced to forget about her career for the time being.

Sweden is at the vanguard of social progressivism and nowhere is this more obvious than with daycare. Our daycare's curriculum features a section on values. This section emphasises the importance of ensuring that each child develops openness, respect, solidarity, responsiblity and empathy. Another section underlines that those with a mother tongue other than Swedish should be able to develop their cultural identity and their ability to communicate in both Swedish and their mother tongue. These are all valuable, inclusive values – I feel comfortable that this system is helping to nurture my girls.

Paul Connolly's twin girls are learning Swedish at dagis. Photo: Private

I also feel very comfortable with the standards of the teachers. Like the hospital staff we've encountered up here in the north who were natural caregivers, our girls' teachers were simply born to look after toddlers. Their patience is endless, their words are tender and their guidance faultless. After just a week of exposure to these three women, our girls were kissing them goodbye. After 21 months, I barely qualify for a kiss from my two beautiful monsters.

Feedback from friends in other countries has been, at best, spotty. There are tales of children being left alone for long stretches, full nappies being ignored, inadequate food being provided. And that's paying an average of around £200 (2580 kronor) per week in the UK and $275 (2300 kronor)in the U.S.

It's possible we've just been lucky – maybe our förskola is remarkable. Or perhaps the Swedes have just got their generous daycare provisions bang on. Even when you take Swedish tax and UK childcare vouchers into consideration, a Swedish couple paying the maximum childcare rate of 1,260 kronor per child for two children, need to earn around 25 percent less than an English couple to enjoy the same level of childcare and a comparable standard of living.

But it's not just about fairness and quality of life. Economically, cheap or free childcare makes perfect sense. Recent research has indicated that the increased tax revenues that would result from providing cheap, Swedish-style care for all UK pre-school children would outstrip the initial cost.

Most important of all, though, is it's good for our girls and their future. In small rural communities like ours, friendships are made very early in life and attending a dagis at their age should stand them in good stead if we do decide to stay in northern Sweden for the long-term. In the meantime, their parents get to have a cup of tea and read the newspaper in peace…