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Compulsory preschool affects children negatively, says parental rights advocate

Compulsory day care has a deleterious effect on childrens’ health, says a Swedish parental rights advocate.

According to parental rights advocate Jonas Himmelstrand, Swedish studies show that psychosomatic symptoms including regular headaches, tummy aches, worries and anxiety had increased three times for girls and doubled for boys from 1985-2005.

Himmelstrand further stated that Sweden has the “worst development in psychological health among youth”.

He also attributed the decline in school results to the establishment of subsidised day care which started in 1985. He mentioned that in Sweden, it has come to a point when not having one’s child in day care even after taking parental leave is regarded as strange by the public.

Another effect of the subsidised day care, according to Himmelstrand, is the degeneration of proper parenthood and high adult sick leave rates. He pinpointed the early separation of children from their parents as the most realistic cause for the decline in school results and the decline in the quality of parenthood. He dismissed poverty as a cause of the decline.

“As Sweden is materially rich with a wealth of public social insurances and good wealth distribution and low child poverty, this is hardly the cause,” he said.

Home Education Foundation (HEF) of New Zealand National Director Barbara Smith agrees with Himmelstrand about the issue, saying that she hopes New Zealand will learn from Sweden, and not follow the same methods they use for caring for children.

“In Sweden, it’s illegal to home educate children,” she says. Smith added that Swedish authorities can split up families who home educate their children, just like in the case of Domenic Johansson who was separated from his parents two years ago. Johansson, who was seven-year-old at that time, was seized by the Swedish police as he was leaving the country with his parents because his parents don’t want him to attend the Swedish government school.

Smith advised against making preschool compulsory for children, saying that it is a “step towards Swedish-style family tragedy”.

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