The other day I received an email pointing me to a page at a German homeschooling web site:
Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit (Education Freedom Network), 2 February 2007, Fuenfzehnjaehriges Maedchen zwangsweise in die Psychiatrie eingewiesen (Fifteen year old German homeschooler forcibly admitted into a mental institution)
The day before Christmas, the German newspaper, Erlanger Nachrichten published a picture of the eight-member Busekros family standing happily together around an advent wreath. The title of the accompanying article was “Only families open the way for new perspectives”. On the first of February this year, the Busekros’ oldest daughter was torn from her family by force, thanks to a judge’s ruling : Compulsory admittance to the Klinikum Nuremberg-Nord, a psychiatric clinic for children and young people and loss of parental custody.
If accurate, this is disturbing. No one wants a perfectly healthy young person removed to a psychiatric facility. After reading the article, I knew it would be of interest to the English-speaking homeschooling community, and I set off on a web search for all I could find out. So far, there isn’t much more than appears at the Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit site.
Initial information is:
- The Klinikum is a hospital with multiple clinics; it is not a psychiatric hospital: Klinikum Nrnberg (“Nuremberg” is the English version of Nrnberg)
- There is a clinic for juvenile psychiatric treatment: Klinik fr Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie/Psychotherapie
- The news article referenced, Nur Familien erffnen Perspektiven (“Only families open the way for new perspectives”) is online.
- The article, “Nur Familien …” is not about homeschooling, but about the long-term effects of the low German birthrate, and the relative family-friendliness of the culture in general, Erlangen in particular, along with a brief examination of the rural and urban situations — singles and older people in cities, and families in the suburbs and country. [Google will translate the page, but only ‘mechanically:’ “nut/mother” for Mutter (“nut” is a hardware term); President “charcoal burner” for Bundespraesident Koehler; “circle” instead of “county” for Kreis]
- The Advent photo referenced in the initial article above is at the Erlanger Nachrichten (Erlangen News) site.
- The blogger at Principled Discovery has more intimate information: German homeschooler taken into custody, child responds
- The church referenced at Principled Discovery appears to be the Evangelisch-reformierte Kirchengemeinde Erlangen.
- A search for “Schulphobie” (school phobia) returns 11,900 results as compare with 1,260,000 for “school phobia.” (I thought it would be the other way around.)
So far, this particular incident appears to be an enforcement of the school attendance laws. Melissa has apparently aged out of regular school, but she still has three years of compulsory Berufschule (occupation school), what Americans used to call vo/tech.
According to a German Wikipedia article on the compulsory school laws, the initial age of school attendance in Bayern (Bavaria) is six years. There are nine years of compulsory school attendance (under the heading “Dauer” on the chart, which would be ‘duration’) and three additional years at the Berufschule. This jibes with the age of school-leaving for the Abitur as well.
I don’t remember older teens hanging about on street corners during school hours, so it appears that until the late teens, kids are in school of some sort. I do remember hordes of kids on the public streetcars and suburban trains in large towns, and veritable convoys of young bicyclists in the suburbs, so it was very obvious when the school day either started or ended.
As long as the German states retain their compulsory school attendance laws, and as long as the few parents who homeschool continue to do so, we can probably expect to see such reports.
Still, this seems to be a heavy-handed way of enforcing the law.
posted by Valerie
homeschooling, homeschooling in Germany, Melissa Busekros, Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit,