Europe Cracks Down on Home School Parents
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MUNICH, Germany – Increasing custody cases in Europe are proof that officials there have declared war against home schooling and parental rights, according to some residents.
In Sweden, police burst onto a plane and took 7-year-old Dan Schulz while the family was sleeping. He can be heard on tape screaming that he doesn’t want to leave his home. His mother, Heidi, pleads with police to not take her son.
Dan was kept out of school because of fears that his mother’s estranged husband might kidnap him. Dan had been home-schooled and began attending a private Christian school one day before the raid.
Germany’s well-established persecution of home-schoolers caused the Wunderlich family to flee for France in hopes of finally being free to educate their kids. A few weeks ago, however, French police raided their home and took custody of their four kids.
Keeping an Unfair Watch
Cases like this are why some say Europe has declared war not just on home-schoolers, but on parent’s rights.
Sweden is about to make home schooling illegal in most cases, and even Britain may clamp down on home schooling.
Germany is by far the most repressive state in Europe toward home-schoolers. There may be as few as 300 home schooling families left. The rest have fled.
Some say that when it comes to home schooling, the old wall around east Germany has just moved west.
Home-schoolers are watched by their neighbors. They’re turned in, investigated, fined and jailed until they either quit or leave the country.
Families Vow to Fight Back
One family that refuses to give up is the Schmidts in the Bavarian town of Otting, near Augsburg.
The government first tried financial pressure against them– more than $20,000 in fines– and is now trying to take custody of their youngest son, Aaron.
Their oldest son, Josua, was home-schooled and has done well on his national exams. The father, Hans, works with the handicapped, teaching them skills. The mother, Petra, is a tutor of other children and is a school crossing guard.
German officials, however, ignore not only that, but their own laws that uphold parental rights.
Joel Thornton of the International Human Rights Group is one of the lawyers representing the Schmidts.
“The state constitution, the federal constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights all specifically and explicitly give parents the right to control the education of their children, particularly because of religious belief,” he said.
Christian families like Schmidts don’t want their kids in German state schools, where very young children may be taught occult practices and explicit sex education, Thornton added.
“A lot of things going on in the second, third and fourth grades are things I’m not comfortable sitting here telling you go on,” he said. “There are homework assignments where children are asked to interact with their parents about their sexual relationship, in the fourth grade.”
Trusting God for Change
The German government treats home-schoolers like common criminals.
The Schmidts have had their bank accounts frozen and been threatened with a lien on their home and jail time. Now, the state wants custody of their youngest son, Aaron. Petra Schmidt is not giving up.
“Ask the children. They know I’m a fighter. And a mother fights for her children,” she said. “With every new challenge, I feel in my heart, ‘Now. Lord Jesus. We’re going to continue on.’”
“The more difficulties that have arisen from this situation, we realize more and more how God was standing behind us, supporting us,” her husband, Hans Schmidt said. “And God always, in the end, did the right thing for us. And I want to give Him the glory for that.”
Aaron Schmidt wonders why the state won’t just leave them alone.
“I ask myself why, why does this have to be?” he said. “Why can’t the state just accept home schooling?”
The Schmidt’s German attorney, Gabriela Eckermann, says the answer is political correctness.
The abductions of children from good families in Europe even has some worried that America needs a parental rights amendment to the constitution.
Yet, critics say it would have little chance of passage.
A French court has recently returned the Wunderlich children to their parents. Dominic Johansson in Sweden remains in state custody, along with Dan Shulz in Germany. His mother Heidi says she prays every day for the return of her son.