REPORT FROM THE FAMILY EDUCATION TRUST, LONDON

 

REPORT from "The Family Education Trust"

By Lynette Burrows. 6.3.99.

First, the background. 'The Family Education Trust' of Great Britain was set up more than twenty-five years ago to monitor the effects of social change on the family. Its composition is broad and includes doctors, lawyers, churchmen, teachers, housewives and businesspeople, covering the entire social spectrum. From very early on it was apparent to people of good sense that many of the more radical ideas of the social innovators were unlikely to work. Most of the innovations - such as the sexualising of the young were basically opportunistic commercial innovations, which exploited the new liberalism in order to develop a youth market for their products. Others, such as liberal divorce, abandoning censorship on sexual material (whilst increasing it on race, for instance) dropping the stigma of 'illegitimacy'; allowing girls (but not boys) to have sexual experiences at an illegal age, without their parents' knowledge or consent, quickly showed themselves to be damaging and misery-producing. What is more, most of these novel ideas were quickly found to be absolutely counter-productive, producing the opposite of what they were supposed to do.

However, even though they had only existed for a few years, whole livelihoods had been founded on them and various professions, notably the legal and medical professions, as well as social work, had become parasitic upon their continued existence and hopeful of their continuing escalation.

It is a vain, therefore, to expect these professions to cut-back their activities or their advocacy of them, because of either moral considerations or their adverse effects. They were not founded on either morality or doing good. So, it is not unduly cynical to say that, as long as they continue to make money for the practitioners, the professions will continue to shout for them!

Last year, the Family Education Trust published a book called

'The Fight For the Family' which was a critique of another professional pressure group that was seeking power and financial support. Under the guise of 'children's rights' a very small number of individuals, using organisations which they have, for the most part, formed themselves, seek to subvert the role of parents and to substitute paid officials; i.e. themselves. The book gives chapter and verse of their philosophy, aims and inter-connected personnel. It also notes how they use Sweden as an example of 'good practice' in the field of childcare and how they wish to follow Sweden. In particular, they attach particular importance to establishing a law against smacking children - as in Sweden. They say how it has improved life for everybody and has not resulted in any prosecutions, or disruptions to family relationships. Many people were sceptical of this claim which is, however, always claimed by Swedish authorities.

The book, naturally enough, enraged the children's rights lobby who did their best to 'warn-off' discussion of it by claiming that it was 'possibly defamatory'. However, the biggest-selling British broadsheet newspaper, 'The Daily Telegraph' ran a feature-page article by the author of the book, Lynette Burrows, in which she set out the main arguments of the book and this resulted in the edition selling out completely.

At this point, the Nordic Committee for Human Rights comes into the picture. Whilst a new edition of 'The Fight for the Family' was being prepared, the attention of the Family Education Trust was drawn to the existence of a web site (NKMR.org) which contained a robust refutation of everything that the children's rights people in Britain, said about Sweden. To the delight of the author, it was apparent that an opposition of academics and professionals had at last organised itself under the chairmanship of Ruby Harrold-Claesson of Gothenburg and was engaged in a war of facts against the misinformation disseminated by the Swedish authorities. We read the information on the web-site and immediately prepared a new chapter in the book specifically on 'Swedish practices', which will be an eye-opener to many people.

It cannot be emphasised enough how important it is that Sweden has, at last, got itself an 'alternative voice' to which other countries can apply for a more truthful account of what is really happening there. With the best will in the world, no one has been able to get at the facts concerning the number of children taken from their families on one pretext or another. It has been impossible to discover how disgracefully those children are often treated by foster-parents thereafter; and how indifferent the authorities are to this state of affairs.

More than anything else, it has not been realised by any other country, I think, that the device of making smacking children illegal has the effect of placing a majority of parents in the power of social workers. Let us get to the nub of the argument. Most parents everywhere know what the independent, American 'Institute of Healthcare Research' found in 1993; that the majority of genuine research studies into parental discipline, demonstrated beneficial, not detrimental, effects of spanking in certain situations. Thus, the removal by the state of the right of parents to do what they know is best for their children, infantalises the average adult. Unable by law to trust their own judgement in this matter, adults are thrown into an unnatural dependence on the approval of social workers. The Soviet Union was full of such psychological tricks, designed to break the spirit of a people, and Sweden has got away with this one by simply denying that it is happening. They are not only autocratic; they are also hopelessly wrong and out of date.

After discovering this Nordic web-site, we decided to invite Ruby Harrold-Claesson to England, so that we could discuss the Nordic Committee for Human rights and acquaint the media here with their existence. This was done, first at a series of interviews with interested journalists and, on the second day, at a reception at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Westminster. At both, Ruby gave a good account of the work of the committee and described a number of cases which illustrated the problem. It is not an exaggeration to say that people were stunned. Over and over again the same question was put: 'where is the opposition to this policy in Sweden?'

Ruby did her best to explain that, once such a policy is in position, the public feels powerless to resist; they feel threatened in a professional capacity if they complain, and vulnerable as parents if they draw attention to their opposition. She also pointed out that propaganda plays its part in making individuals feel that they do not have the right to protest in a system unused to having its rules questioned.

Even so, this is the hardest part for us here to understand. We know that the poor and inarticulate are always vulnerable to bullying by officials and that is why public opinion is always ready to come to the aid of those who are bullied. After a fictitious account of the plight of a homeless young mother with her children some years ago, 'Cathy Come Home', the outcry against the policy of separating a mother from her children when she was in trouble, was so great that the entire policy was reviewed, heads rolled and an automatic right to be housed by the state was put in place.

In contrast, Ruby had with her a heart-rending Swedish documentary about Christina, a homeless woman whose child the social workers stole. The whole disgusting business was filmed, including the birth and the mother's joy; her falling asleep afterwards and the nurses stealing away her child with the promise that it would be by her side when she awoke. It was a scene from a horror movie and, despite its sympathetic intention, so reminiscent of the Nazi's liking for recording how efficiently they carried out their loathsome programmes, that it made the flesh creep.

 

It was shown on Swedish television on 31st January, 1999 - apparently without any significant outcry from the public. I can only say that if such a film had been made about a British girl who was treated in the way, there would have been no peace for those concerned until natural justice had been done. Not even criminals are treated in such an inhuman a way in any country which calls itself civilised.

This brought home to us here, even more clearly, the need to alert people to what can happen to a free people when a bureaucracy is allowed to become too powerful and the government, which is supposed to control it, is acquiescent. We have many avenues yet to explore on our own behalf and we know that the media here will take some convincing that Swedish social policy is, in this respect, reminiscent of the Gestapo.

However, we shall do our best to get the 'Christina' film shown on British television since its eloquent testimony to the enduring appetite of some people to subjugate and torment their fellow human-beings, is sensational enough to ensure a wide audience. It was a shock to liberals everywhere to realise that Sweden had a policy of sterilising those whom it considered 'unfit' to have children, until 1976. It will be even more of a shock to their belief in the 'progressive' credentials of Sweden, to realise that they did not abandon the policy, they merely adapted it to modern conditions. They now take the child away from those whom they still consider 'unfit' to keep their own children.

We hope, by drawing attention to what Sweden is doing, to ensure that no other country, including our own, falls into the same trap. We shall, with your help, bring over to England, as many Swedes as it takes to convince our intelligentsia that policies which interfere with family freedoms, enslave the citizen. Unfortunately for the oppressed everywhere, the Liberal-Left always treasures its heroes - even when they are murderous tyrants - so it will take a little time for the worm to turn; but turn it will. We shall always be grateful to Ruby Harrold-Claesson, to Siv Westerberg and all those other professionals who have dared to stand up to the insolence of officialdom and speak the truth.

The window they have opened in their web-site will allow daylight to fall, for the first time, on those who oppress in secret. It gives the Committee for Human Rights a voice to the outside world that cannot be controlled or silenced and it allows others to join in their struggle. A country that has lost its family freedom has lost all freedom. The right to live as you choose with your family is the point of all liberty; without it, the very concept becomes meaningless. That is surely a freedom worth fighting for? We send you all our best wishes and encouragement.

 

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