Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Sweden
Tuesday October 21, 2008

Dear Alice Miller. Yesterday I watched a swedish documentary about immigrant children who are a huge problem at school because of their aggressive behaviour and I thought about what you've claimed so many times.The title of the documentary was called "The scapegoats". They were rebels at their school, and teachers were truly afraid of them. Some of the boys even set the school on fire at some point and they were making the place a living hell for the teachers and pupils. This was loudly debated in Sweden some time ago, "what to do"...and of course people and polititians would make these worst 20 boys or so the scapegoats. It became so very obvious to me what you've been saying all the time, and the documentary was also angling the problem from a "good place", taking the boys side. They wanted to explore the reasons for the rebellions and destructive behaviour and they found it all right! The boys were all abused at home by their parents, and hit for every mistake or "wrong-doing". The vicious sircle was this: They were abused at home and then they took the rage out on teachers and other pupils because in Sweden it is forbidden to use any kind of violence towards a child, and then they knew it was "safe" to act out their rage just as it presented itself to them. The school often "had to" contact their parents and then they would be hit again of course and be more enraged. And this completed the vicious sircle.A psychologist/scientist explained very well what he believed himself was the problem. He said that we're not taking it seriously, we're surrendering to that these immigrants have their own culture and that somehow their children are not like the ethnical swedish ones and we hesitate to interfere because there would be so MANY complaints/so many files...etc.. This was exactly what he himself had been thinking at some point when he was confronted with the social workers' problems of coping. But he said that EVERY child has the right to be protected from their abusive parents not matter "culture". This was also the answer a muslim family therapist gave. He said that the parents had to learn something new and to understand what they are really doing to their children when they use violence. We always tend to find quick solutions, the laziest ones, so we can protect ourselves from taking responsibility. The children(aged 15-18) were interviewed and asked what they had experienced and their thoughts about it. Almost everybody were totally sure that they would smack their own children because they were convinced that violence is the answer to cope. Only one of the boys was emotional when he spoke of the violence he'd experienced, tears came to his eyes as he spoke and this boy was one of the very few who when asked the question if he would hit his own children said. "NEVER". These boys were used as scapegoats at their homes and then again by the school and society. It was heart-breaking to me, also because I understood my own blindness, my OWN lack of empathy with myself only if it was only in a glimpse. How I've unconsciently done the same thing to myself, never let myself speak up against the violence I experienced. I saw myself in these boys who'd accepted the fact that they had to carry their parents' burden. I could not only see it but feel it, and that is something new to me. Anyway I wanted to share this experience, and also thank you for your great books and your hard work to reveal the truth. I'm too totally convinced that it is possible to change the world if every country would follow Sweden in their striving to never become complacent about children's rights even if some polititians from time to time want to create scapegoats and segregation.It also became clear to me emotionally that fear and suppressed rage is the reason for creating scapegoats. ALWAYS. And how easy it is to fall into delusions over and over again if I do not dare to question my own attitudes.And then I'm left with the question when did that fear enter my own family?It is clear that at some point somebody chose to lie in stead of being compassionate.Then it all comes down to a choice. Best wishes from Z.

AM: Thank you for your very interesting report from Sweden. It shows that Sweden at least tries to deal with the problem in a more enlightened way than other countries do - thanks to the law protecting children you have accepted more than 30 years ago.

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