Friday, October 08, 2010

Domenic Johansson

I received the sad news this morning that the judge in the case of Domenic Johansson had decided against returning him to his family.

The reasons stated are that he had dental caries (must be a bad parent), failure to vaccinate (must be a careless parent) and homeschooling (sic).  That's it, that's enough in the nightmarish hell that is Sweden, to get your child taken away from you... and placed into foster care.

There was a programme in the UK earlier this week which dealt with the grief and loss of children in the care system in the UK who wanted to be with their mothers but are prevented by social workers.  I can't say I watched it because I am too much of a coward - since I had children myself I find it very hard to deal with cruelty and abuse of children, and the abuse which affects me more than any other is the separation imposed by social workers on families who may be fallible and faulty but are not abusive. 

Obviously any sane person wants a child who is actually being abused and damaged by their parent to be taken to a place of safety, but the hard truth is that our care system is so bad that in some cases children would rather be with abusive parents than in the care system, shuttled around from one place to another, with no security, no love and nobody putting them first.

The system will not love these children, neither the social workers nor the foster parents who may only last a couple of months.  It seems that the system is psychopathic as an institution, and is incapable of responding to the needs of the children within it.  What is more, the social workers seem to assume that tearing children away from families where their care has been deficient in their eyes is a better option than supporting the families to keep the children.

Where a child is actually abused - is being hit, or really psychologically damaged by abusive parents who neglect and don't care for them - it is understandable that the system takes the child into care, however poor the standard of care they can offer.  But where a child is simply not being cared for the way the state prefers - not being vaccinated, not attending the dentist - that's a whole different ball game, and for any loving parent, the idea that some sort of idelogical justification for removal of a child should succeed, where there is no basis for believing that any actual abuse has taken place, is terrible.

Some time ago, a women went on the run with her children because the social services (who were called in by the woman herself) had taken her first child into care on the basis that she had "allowed" her alcoholic husband to shout at her in the presence of the child.  She had eventually got him back, but they were now threatening to take her children into care because they believed that she had re-eastablished contact with her husband. 

This woman is a loving, normal parent, who hasn't been accused of any abuse at all, and yet these social workers believed that they would be acting in the children's interest to take them away from their loving parent and put them into care in the belief that this was a better alternative to potentially having to deal with an alcoholic father.

To me, it seems that the social workers in that case must be emotionally blind, or totally unable to understand the importance of normal human bonding between child and parent.  How could they believe that it was better to tear those children away from a loving parent than to offer them support?  They also pursued the woman around the world, until she settled in Ireland and obtained a judgement from the local court that she was a fit person to care for her children and the UK social workers gave up. 

I have personally supported people on the run from English social workers, whose main problem seems to have been that they home educate.  It is becoming worryingly frequent that social workers appear to believe that home education in itself is an abuse. 

I can't imagine any punishment worse than having your children removed, and being prevented from normal contact with them.  Children grow gradually away from their parents and achieve independence in a natural growth pattern... tearing them away before they are ready to be independent is as bad as uprooting a plant... you may not see the roots with your eyes in the case of a child, but they are there, anyway.

I have written the following letter to to following group of people:
Dear Sir,
I do not speak Swedish, I am sorry.  I wish to write in protest at the continued detention of Domenic Johanssen, for reasons which seem entirely inadequate to me.

I am a home educator from England who does not vaccinate my children because I do not believe that the efficacy and safety of vaccinations is proved.  I did vaccinate my eldest child, but when he had a very bad reaction to a vaccination, I ceased vaccinating.  That eldest child now has Crohn's disease and I entertain the possibility that it was caused by the bad reaction to the vaccination.

Children in loving families can be provided with no substitute by the state.  Even if the state disagrees with the way in which a parent is bringing up their children, if they have the good of the child at heart, they must recognise that they cannot supply to the child the love and the care which those loving parents are providing. 

I thought of Sweden as a liberal and fair country before this case, but the treatment of the Johansson family has changed my opinion.  It is impossible for me to reconcile the view I had of the country with the actions which have been taken in the Johansson case.

I beg you to look within your hearts and to see if you cannot do something to reunite these people with their son?  I know that you must have loving families of your own and be able to imagine how awful it is for the Johanssons to be separated from their child.

Please look into your hearts and see if you think that the reasons given for separating them are good enough to deprive a child of a loving family? 

I have three children, and I have home educated them for ten years.  I have found the experience challenging but amazing, and we have all benefitted enormously from the opportunities which home education gives us.  We used to attend a woodland activities centre one day a week, at which the children were able to learn survival skills, do arts and crafts, drama and group games, and at which I taught art and craft skills to mixed groups of children from 3years old to 18, with and without special needs. We had a wonderful time.

My children have learned to get on with children of all ages, and not just their year group in school, and they have been free to pursue their own interests.  My older son is about to start a degree with the Open University on industrial design.  He is a talented guitar player, and very skilled in making webpages.  My middle son has friends all over the country and travels to see them.  He is a magician and musician and makes his own clothing. My youngest child is 15 and is a daughter.  She has never been to school, and is an accomplished artist, a very knowledgeable football fan who wants to be a sports journalist, and is working towards qualifications to do that.

People worry that parents of home educated children may have a lot of influence over them, and it is true that they may, as children tend to model their behaviour on the people they spend time with.  I dislike all sport and football in particular, however, and yet my daughter felt able to pursue this as her main interest and the basis for her future career, and I have always supported her completely.  I acknowledge her unique identity and her right to be the best person she can become, in whatever field she chooses for herself.

I know that it is difficult when faced with people who do not follow what the mainstream of society follows and to accept that it is possible to do things another way, but I truly and honestly believe that parents who love and care for their children are irreplaceable, and must be allowed to make decisions for their families.  Sometimes the mainstream will be in disagreement with their approaches, but sometimes the mainstream takes time to catch up.  How long ago was it that people thought that beating your children was essential to bringing them up in the right way?  Would anyone sane espouse that approach nowadays?

I believe that schooling will change radically over the next 100 years.  I don't think it will be in the form we know it at the moment.  I think that home education is far closer to the form of future education than the current form of schooling.  That Domenic's parents home educate ought not to be a reason for taking the child into foster care.

Please, please take responsibility for the case of Domenic Johansson and examine your heart closely to see if you have done the right thing.  I don't believe that you have, but I recognise your right to know for yourself if you have.

I believe that there is that of God in everyone and I appeal to the best part of you to re-examine your actions and the possibility that you may have been wrong.  Please help to release Domenic back to his loving family.

with love and light to you
Fee Berry,,,,,,,,,,,,

It's the second email I have sent;  I received no acknowledgement or reply to my previous attempt.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I've been blogging for 12 years, having started when I got my first internet-enabled computer in 1998.  Then, I was one of only seven bloggers in the UK, and nearly all the blogs which were accessible online were from Americans.

I've blogged in the form of a diary or online journal, I've blogged for money, I've blogged to provide information.  I realise that nowadays most of my blogging is done on Facebook for 50 friends and acquaintances instead of publically, on my blog, and that is the reason that I have not been blogging as much - when I have a link to share or a thought to express I tend to do it in the comfort of my Facebook profile instead of here.

I suppose that has advantages and disadvantages, but I need to get back into the swing of blogging, because I need to blog professionally again, and so I am trying to get into the habit of sharing things here.  So here I am.

I was sent a link to a class project video which is set to Saltwater by Julian Lennon. I'm afraid that as I don't listen to music radio and I hardly watch television nowadays, I haven't really come across his music before, which sounds a lot like a pastiche of Beatles music... but I rather like this video and the music behind it, and so I will embed it here.