In the year 2008, mentally ill children are being systematically locked up with violent adults at several institutions in Sweden. Lena Nyberg, Children’s Ombundsman in Sweden, expressed her anger at these policies which directly violate the UN Convention on the Rights of Children. Article 37 of that document states, “every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults.” However, many closed psychiatric departments across Sweden do not follow regulations and at several institutions children are mixed with adults, both systematically and in the case of emergency.
The most common complaint in such situations is that some children are too difficult to handle and thus cannot be placed with other children, but the newspaper, Svenska Dagbladtet, found cases in which mixing occurred due to lack of space or staff resources. Sofia Akerman was 16 years-old when her children’s ward was closed due to lack of resources. She was relocated to an adult ward where “the atmosphere and milieu is not suited to children. Brutality is part of daily life in a completely different way to that within” a children’s ward.
There is something wrong when a wealthy nation such as Sweden is unable to offer disturbed children safe and comfortable environments in which to work through emotional issues. Sweden is not a third world nation struggling to survive and it is important that its children be afforded institutional care that is commensurate with the standards of the nation.y