Observations on the training of social workers

OBSERVATIONS ON THE TRAINING OF SOCIAL WORKERS

 

 

 

Application No. 10631/83 Lilja vs. Sweden

 

 

By Tom G. A. Hardt, Theol. Dr

 

This statement was produced by Dr of Theology Tom G. A. Hardt in the complaint that the Liljas submitted to the European Commission for Human Rights in 1983. More information about the Lilja Case can be obtained in  A family's flight from the welfare state and Swedish Couple enduring USA poverty to keep son .

 

It is published here both in the NCHR's Article section and in the section European Court as information to the victims of the social services that they are indeed subjected to a gross systemic abuse due to the ideological beliefs - and the training - of the social workers.

 

 

 

 

 

1.         Today's social workers in Sweden are normally graduates from the social sciences faculties, having pursued their undergraduate and graduate studies during the early 1970s. In these days however, those faculties were subject to a heavy Marxist influence and the students' views of society avid training were coloured accordingly.

 

 

2.         From.1969 and on, a number of successive changes took place in the instruction in psychology at the Socialhögskolan in Lund in order to adapt better to the requirements of professional life. A basic course in psychology was developed which was common to the social line and to the administrative line. It functioned as an extended introduction for the new students at the faculty. Thus, psychology was the first subject with which the freshmen had to grapple.

            As from 1973 important changes took place too, in the instruction in psychology at the Socialhögskolan in Stockholm. In fact the changes were largely experimental and almost every term the plans were changed. Within the framework of the subject ''psychology'' part courses were given in practical psychology and in social psychology.

 

 

Such part courses which were offered during the spring term of 1973 and during 1974 made themselves famous for particularly vicious Marxist indoctrination. After a few years, the training system meant that all students were required to pass a common basic course in 'social sciences': in this was included the subject 'psychology'.

            In Umeå you had a university at which the student body voted 50 percent Communist and used the hammer and sickle as logos in the letterhead. Here, students intent to become social workers met the subject 'psychology' at the Institution for applied psychology.

 

 

3. The relative importance of psychology as a subject mandatory people wanting to qualify for social work put the students at the mercy of Marxist enthusiasts. Complaints by students over indoctrination and abuse of power were an everyday occurrence. In Umeå it was whispered to the new students: 'pretend you are a Marxist otherwise you will not survive here' (as per Maare Tamm. Expressen Nov. 5, 1975).

 

 

As evidenced by a number of complaints to the Ombudsman and to the Chancellor of Justice ¹), in all three faculties - Lund, Stockholm and Umeå - training in psychology took the form of mobbing sessions at which in particular students known for less than enthusiasm for the Marxist cause were chosen as victims and left them "broken" (knäckt).

 

 

Somebody called it "moral rape" (as per Anders Bendroth, Skånska Dagbladet June 14, 1975, p 16). Technically, the course was known as "sensitivity training" or as ''training in group dynamics'' (JK decision Dec. 6, 1976, P 4).

Individual command of the very subject 'psychology' was of little avail to the student, since examinations took place per groups (so-called collective examinations), and there was no way to obtain a degree for social work unless you got a pass relating to the course in group dynamics or sensitivity training.²) You were stuck with the group.

 

 

Furthermore, in Stockholm, a system of course evaluation was practiced which was held to be obligatory (although when complaints were brought before the Chancellor of Justice, the teacher in question denied that this had been his intention). The point was that having to evaluate the course before getting your pass relating to same, you also had to reveal your reactions to the Marxist message. Furthermore it was understood that taking a negative view of the course meant criticism of the teacher more or less automatically; at least he could read it that way. This may later influence - or be suspected of influencing the objectivity of the teacher in the course of the examination'' (JK decision p 19).

 

 

4. Only a few complaints reached the Ombudsman and the Chancellor but in the student paper ''Gaudeamus'' of Nov. 26, 1975, the reason for that was put as follows:

''Many other students are reluctant to speak about all the mobbing. One of the students most badly hit does hardly know if she dares to tell about all the treatments to which she has been subjected. This is so because of her fear for what will happen to her in the future. Since she is a student at the social line, she is forced to study psychology if she is to exercise her profession in the future.''

 

 

5. To the Marxists themselves the treatment meted out to the dissidents was completely rational.

''They consider that their primary task is to influence people politically. Marxism solves all problems. Those easiest to influence are the children in the nurseries. 'Working as a psychologist in the traditional sense comes second.'' ³)

''All those <Marxist> students are <technically> competent to start, today, working as assistant psychologists.

Maare Tamm: - Considering the attitude which they reveal to their work this circumstance is almost the worst of all." 4).

 

 

''Afterwards the psychologists will end up in our nurseries and day homes. I have received information that they talk about, that exactly the kindergartens are suitable places for imposing their political indoctrination, and I have seen already letters to the editor in which we local politicians are asked whether political indoctrination is really practiced in our kindergarten.''

 

 

 

6. Trying to identify the consequences of the now sketched state of affairs at the Swedish social service schools during the 1970s the following points stand out:

(1) That the recruitment to these schools was largely negative inasmuch as only those more or less genuinely sympathetic to the Marxist message of conflict could hope to be accepted in the groups and thus hope to pass the psychology exams;

(2) that the students and thus the future social workers- some used to, and willing to practice themselves, the abusive attitude toward dissidents of a less Socialist persuasion which characterized the mobbing sessions, be these dissidents, parents, or destitute seekers;

(3) that the students and thus the future social workers were disinclined to learn more than attitudes from the university instruction, the teaching system having replaced individual examinations with collective ones which made a pass dependent upon acceptance 'by the group rather than on individual command of facts and principles.

 

 

 

7. The Swedish Government has been responsible for this state of affairs in the training of social workers inasmuch as, for a long time, no measures were taken to remedy the situation and it may be doubted whether the remedies finally adopted by the university authorities were ever very effective. The Ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice only approached the matter as an ad hoc problem. In the Hamburg Case before the Chancellor of Justice, the complaints addressed questions of great importance as to essence and principle for the training, but the Chancellor felt that it was not up to him to make statements on the suitable form of the training or the quality of the instruction (decision Dec. 6, 1976 p 10). In the Umeå Case (Gustafsson et alii) before the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman said that it was in the first place up to other organs to find solutions to the problems that had emerged, viz. the university authorities (decision June 29, 1976). Consequently, the long term effects of the system practiced were never addressed. The system was never seen in the light, of Article 17 of the Convention as an ''act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the Convention.''

 

 

It may be added that in these days of the 1970s, under the impact of the so-called transformation theory, Swedish authorities in the administrative sector did not feel bound by Article 17, if they ever knew about it. In the early 1970s, the Minister for human rights Mr. Carl Lidbom - had voiced in the Diet, in no uncertain terms, his displeasure at the Svea Court of Appeal having made reference to the European Convention in a consultative opinion, and thereafter the Swedish supreme courts became increasingly indifferent in their attitude to the Convention. This shift in attitude climaxed in the Råneå Case (RÅ 1974 p 121) in which the Supreme Administrative Court decided to set squarely a precedent for the adoption of the transformation theory.

 

 

NOTES

 

1) See decision of the Ombudsman in files 2882-1975, 2892-1975 and 2893-1975, issued June 29, 1977; and report published in JO berättelse 1978/79 P 474; decision of the Chancellor of Justice (JK) December 6, 1976, file 1124-75-21.

2) As per the Prefect, JO berättelse 1978/79 p 474, at 480.

3)  As per Maare Tamm, a 40 year old graduate student with a degree in philosophy, of Estonian descent, victimized in Umeå. Her report on the mobbing sessions was annexed to a complaint to the Ombudsman, made by three teachers, B. Andersson, L. Brännström and I. Lundberg, of October 29, 1975.

4) Expressen November 5, 1975.

5) As per Mr. Bertil Carlsson, Counselor to the Commune of Umeå, interview published in Dagens Nyheter November 15, 1975, P 7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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