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EDUCATION

How a Swedish teacher is tackling racism through Facebook

Teacher Olle Linton, 44, founded the ‘Teachers against racism’ group in Sweden in 2014. It now counts 3,179 members. Linton tells The Local Voices why he felt it was necessary.

How a Swedish teacher is tackling racism through Facebook
Olle Linton.

When did you start your group and why?

I started the group (Lärare mot rasism) in early spring, 2014. I wanted to gather teachers from around the country online, to have guidance and to support each other in fighting against the trends of fascism and racism in Sweden, which have increased over the last three years in schools, as well as in the society as a whole.

Unfortunately, you can’t talk about the rise in racism without referring to the refugee crisis. The influx of refugees to the country was one of the main reasons for the surprising growth of these movements. Because of the refugee crisis – in which we should remember the refugees are the ones suffering most – the far right, and specifically the Swedish Democrats, grew drastically.

These movements made pervasive progress within the society and especially among young people. This made it a hard task for teachers to deal with the growing xenophobic views among high school students.

Youngsters who might be nervous about their future absorb what they hear either from the far right campaigns, or from their parents, and they then adopt these views very easily.

How does the group help tackle this rise in racism?

I wanted to create a network for support, discussion and advice. To help teachers deal with students or their parents, when they endorse an 'excluding' ideology.

Teachers are raised to respect and defend the equal rights of every human being. To respect the fact that all humans are equal.

Have you yourself had to have a discussion with someone with ‘racist’ ideologies of any form over the last three years?

Not personally, but I have witnessed almost all types of racism, both in public and in school classes.

Have you witnessed these ideologies among school pupils?

Yes. Some, for example, may express racism openly in classes, and others write graffiti featuring ‘white supremacist movements’ or the slogan “keep Sweden Swedish’” and so on.

Many of these students could take it seriously and believe in these slogans and ideologies, even without understanding their meanings and implications. The far right parties address young people by attracting them with emotional discourse.

They have good speakers, they misuse facts or found their ‘sermons’ on total lies. They exploit the nervousness and possible confusion of the youngsters, presenting them with easy solutions by blaming everything on migrants.

Therefore, the teachers' role in that context is critical. They need to be able to deal with these views, to try to change them through persuasion – of course without any disrespect to the person holding those views; they are still a human being worthy of respect.

But still, we must stand firmly against racism.

How did the group grow?

We grew steadily, and now our group is made up of 3,179 members, of which almost 3000 are teachers. Some are very active and others are less so. We constantly hold discussions and raise awareness, publishing news, articles and so on.

Sometimes, teachers may share their experiences about a specific case, and they'll instantly start getting help from other users.

How do you feel about Sweden's role in the refugee crisis?

The world is in an acute situation with all the mess around us, and you just can’t be passive to what’s happening nowadays. I think those who are settled and able to help, should help. Why not?

What do you think about the changes to Swedish ethos regarding migration?

I think the far right parties forget, or try to forget, the fact that Sweden has a long history with migration, and that migration has always been a benefit for this country. Otherwise, Sweden would have been isolated.

They try to forget the fact that this country has become very successful due to being open and accepting others.

Now, most people have become more sceptical and hesitant, and I think this is largely a result of the far right rhetoric.

 

HEALTH

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 

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