Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Annie and Dominic Johannson
A mother and father are going public with details about how Swedish social-services officials had police halt a plane en route to takeoff in order to take custody of their 7-year-old son after they had argued with local school officials about his homeschooling.
“I’m no better than other people. I’m just a normal human being, trying my best to do what I feel is important both in my life and in this world. My family is maybe a little different from the norm, but, when did that become a crime,” the father, Christer Johannson, has written on the Swedish website Vaken.
“Why this article? There are courts to decide what’s right in cases like this! Yes … but when the social services and [their] lawyers started to lie and mix facts I decided to go public! The last thing I heard from the social services was – Dominic is traumatized now, so he needs to be in a calm and peaceful environment. We agree, let him come home then! That is not a suggestion, that is our demand!” he wrote.
The story also has been highlighted by writer Don Hank at LaiglesForum.
“Help reunite this family,” he urged.
His description of the situation covers the essential details:
Christer and Annie Johannson are a Swedish couple from Gotland that attempted last year to home school their son Dominic, a bright and happy 7-year-old, just prior to their leaving the country to take up residence in India. They made all the right moves, informing the school of their plans.
Home schooling was – and still is – legal in Sweden (there is discussion about banning it) and when Christer asked the principal of the local elementary school if he could supply some teaching materials, he agreed to do so.
But in the meantime, some locals decided that these parents should not be allowed to do this. The reasons for this are no more clear than they are legal …
When Christer went back to the principal to get the materials, he was told that he would not supply any materials and that Dominic must go to school.
The Johannsons insisted that the principal keep his promise. The drama quickly escalated and soon the local social services imposed a fine of 250 kronor per day that Dominic was not in school. This did not intimidate the Johannsons, because they knew they were within their rights under Swedish law.
But the Gotland authorities unanimously stood against them and eventually the court got involved and decided that while the school board had violated some of the parents’ rights, they still would have to send Dominic to school.
The Johannsons were on the plane, which was due to leave the gate in one minute when the Swedish police descended on it. Like commandos, they stormed the plane and took Dominic into custody, without stating any reason for doing so. Dominic was so traumatized he later threw up. Annie later fell unconscious to the floor of the police station. The police did nothing to help.
Hank’s new report said he talked with Christer Johannson, who “had not seen Dominic [who is being held by social services] in a while.”
“I promised that because I know my readers and know that you will help. … I wrote an e-mail to the Swedish authorities, and would like you to do the same. Please, if you have limited time, just write in the subject line ‘Please return Dominic Johannson to his parents. Thanks,’” Hank wrote.
Christer Johannson explained on the website that his family was heading to India because his wife is Indian and the family was inspired by the challenges there.
“We created Mep Programs. … The idea was and is to help children by giving them the social and practical skills and support to take them out of the situations the find themselves in today,” he said.
Jonas Himmelstrand, a key participant in the Swedish Association for Home Education founded just last year, told WND there’s little information about the case available yet.
“A spokeswoman for the local municipality board which made the decision [to take the child from the airplane], said that the reason was homeschooling. The board is, however, not authorized to say anything about the reasons for taking a child into custody,” he reported.
“The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen have been asked to look at the case,” he said.
He also said lawmakers are considering further crackdowns on homeschooling families through a proposed law that would put Sweden “on par with Germany as the most restrictive country on home education in the world.”
WND has had multiple reports on families being persecuted in Germany for homeschooling their own children because of the graphic and explicit sex education programs in public schools there.