More money to a bad system spoiling children – does it improve anything?

Lena Hellblom Sjögren 2016-12-06

Unicef has published a report ”Children and society care” ( Barn och samhällsvård), stating that Swedish children taken into care by the society are harmed more than helped.

This was the headline for one of four recent articles in Sweden´s biggest daily newspaper by a journalist named Simon Markusson. / DN 2016-11-23, ”Childen in society care can me harmed more than helped”. 

There is no support for the idea that taking children from one or two parents makes life better for the children. It makes it worse. This has now been stated by Unicef in a new report. /DN 2016-11-26, article by Simon Markusson ”Unicef alarms about the conditions for Swedish children in society care”.

When the minister in charge was confronted with this she said: – We shall give more money! /DN 2016-12-02, ”The Uniceflalarm, Children in care of the society are harmed. Ít is very serious´”/ ”Unicefalarmet Omhändertagna barn far illa. ´Det är mycket allvarligt”,

What is the logic here? Does a bad system making things worse in children´s lives, help the children by giving more money to this same system?

This seems to be the logic. The minister in charge  explained in an interview that she and her government  will give a lot of money to the system, also to research /DN 2016-11-30 ”No guarantee that  the conditions for children in compulsory care will be investigated”,  kortlänk in här ./


Since long ( see Bohman & Sigvardsson 1980) it has been known that children taken into forced custody by the Swedish society get aworse life conditions than children with the same ”risky home situation” who were adopted. The children from the same population of ”risky homes” who stayed in these were the children who had the best outcome!  – Five variables were measured in  this important longitudinal research, a 15-year follow-up:

  • school results
  • psychiatric problems
  • drug addiction
  • criminality
  • suicide

On all five variables the children who were not placed in compulsory care, or adopted, did best! That the children in all three groups were ”at risk” in their homes had been decided by the social services.

With this knowledge, it ought to have been demanded by the social workers to – by all means – avoid placing children in foster homes or other placements outside the family.

But astonishingly enough no notice has been taken of this knowledge in practice. Thousands of children and their families and friends have had their lives spoilt.

The social workers, the professionals in Sweden who are the ones who in reality decide and who also recommend how the court ought to decide, still do not have standardized methods to use in their everyday work, nor to decide about risk and compare risks or to investigate what they are demanded to investigate.

More children and their nearest are going to have their lives disrupted at immense costs for the individuals and the society – if the system is not changed. Putting more money into the system to have more of the same will no help anyone of the already harmed, or  any children and families in the future.

The system has to be changed so that people can contact the social services when they need help, advice or support, without at the same time take the risk to loose their family. There needs to be one authority to HELP, and another independent authority to decide about FORCE.