Sunday, July 03, 2011

How do Swedish courts treat the family?

OK, so maybe it is Swedish month at Oz Conservative. The stories from that country keep piling in. The latest one concerns a father and mother who decided to punish their children by placing tabasco hot sauce on their tongues when they were caught out lying.

The parents were brought before a court, found guilty of assault and each fined the equivalent of 60 days wages. But that's not what really struck me about the story. It's the following bit. As well as the fine and a suspended jail sentence the parents were ordered to pay $2,222 to the children.

Now, even if you are fiercely opposed to these kinds of punishments for children, what the Swedish court has done goes way beyond setting limits to how parents can discipline their children. The parents were not only ordered to pay fines to the state, but to their own children. And that, to me, means that the Swedish courts no longer recognise the distinct relationship between parent and child nor what you might call the "internal unity" of the family.

The Swedish court is treating the parents and the children as if they are unrelated citizens. The court is, in other words, pretending to be blind to the real relationship parents and children have with each other as part of a family.

If the court were aware of the culture of family life, then it would never order adult parents to pay a "fine" to their own young children. That not only ruptures the sense of parental authority within the family, but it also breaks apart the sense of the family as a cohesive unit, rather than just a collection of individuals sharing a roof together.

3 comments:

  1. ""it also breaks apart the sense of the family as a cohesive unit, rather than just a collection of individuals sharing a roof together. ""

    Which is the point, although those handing down the sentences may be ignorant of this fact.

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  2. "If the court were aware of the culture of family life, then it would never order adult parents to pay a "fine" to their own young children. That not only ruptures the sense of parental authority within the family, but it also breaks apart the sense of the family as a cohesive unit, rather than just a collection of individuals sharing a roof together."

    Ah! But it would if it were and that were its goal.

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  3. Sweden is on the cutting edge of what you could call benign intrusion into citizens lives. Benign in intention, that is, not necessarily in outcome.

    It's an interesting social experiment. Most of its citizens seem to be happy with this situation. I wouldn't want to live there though.

    ReplyDelete

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