The Children of God/The Family Social Service Investigation in Sweden, 1994
Notification was made to Social Services in Gavle 28 February 1994 by Eva Gillstrom, municipal councilor, reporting communities of The Family on the grounds of suspicion that "minors are being treated in such a way that there is danger to their health and development." An investigation from Social Services ensued, which resulted in an official evaluation. Following are excerpts from this evaluation.
INTRODUCTORY SHEET A
District of Valbo
818 30 VALBO
20 of February 1994
Social Workers in charge
Monika Quadt, Per Asbrink
Notification was made to Social Services in Gavle 28 February 1994 by Eva Gillstrom, municipal councilor, stating the following: Referring to paragraph 71 in the Social Services' Act, I report the association "The Children of God", Asbo to the Social Services on the grounds of suspicion that minors are being treated in such a way that there is danger to their health and development.
SUMMARY OF THE INVESTIGATION
There has been no evidence throughout the investigation that would indicate any abuse of the children by any adults, be it sexual or physical. Nor has there been any indications that sex has been encouraged, or that it has occurred, amongst the children themselves. The school health services and the child-health station has not reported any concern regarding the children's well being.
"The Family" way of living brings many positive aspects: The children always have people around them. They have adults and children to whom they can turn, which gives security. The children also have a close circle of friends. "The Family" way of life includes: learning to care for others, taking communal responsibility, sharing material things. They also have common values that can mean a secure, common foundation. "The Family" is a well organized, communal group, there is a scheduled plan of the daily routines.
We do have questions concerning such a relatively closed, communal organization. We feel that the children's possibilities of contacting other children outside "The Family" could be made easier. The remote living is somewhat an obstacle, but we also feel that the contacts are regulated. Contact is usually made when witnessing, or visiting schools, youth centers in a group, often in the company of adults. This can make it difficult to establish contacts that could be beneficial for both parties. Through the home schooling the possibility of spontaneous contacts with other children is also limited, and learning about their way of living.
The values they share and the "Family"-related education causes the children and youth to have convictions of their future goals. None of the young people we have talked to ~M ~y thoughts of further studies or any future professional life outside of "The Family". This would seem to make a break from the movement more difficult. Particularly when the information and education is regulated by "The Family" and as a result the possibility to adopt other thoughts and values.
We sometimes feel that the children and youth are not always so well-informed of what is happening in society outside. This makes it harder to make contact with the outside and reinforces their separation.
We conclude that in the report that served as basis to this investigation it was thought for the children were treated in a way that was dangerous to their health and advancement.
Investigation we have come to the conclusion that the way of life of the children is, "The Family" is different from that of other Swedish children. These differing circumstances that have been described are not considered a danger to the health and development of the children. But the Social Services offer advice and support in questions concerning the repeated moves of the family and the children's possibility to have contact of the community, if the family so wishes.
SUGGESTIONS TO THE DECISION
In reference to what has appeared in the investigation we suggest:
That reason for intervention according to the Social Services' Act is non-existent.
That contributions of voluntary character according to the Care of Young People Act is offered the family.
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