Swedish child care
Sweden is one of the best countries in the world in which to be a child, according to Unicef. In 1979, Sweden became the first country to make the beating or spanking of children a criminal offence, while Swedish law ensures children are well protected. Various organizations are devoted to children’s well-being, including a government-appointed ombudsman whose job is to protect the rights of children and look after their interests. The ombudsman has a duty to follow the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and enforce it in Swedish society. Sweden was one of the first countries to sign up to the convention.
Of the 9.6 million people who live in Sweden, almost 2 million are under 18. About 70 percent of children under 18 live with both their birth parents, while almost a third have a stepfather or stepmother. Eighty percent of all children have a mother who goes out to work, and 90 percent have working fathers.
Parental leave in Sweden is among the most generous in the world. All parents get 480 days of paid leave per child, which must be claimed before the child turns eight. Mothers take most parental leave, but more fathers are spending time at home with their children and now claim about 20 percent of all parental leave.
School is free in Sweden (except for nursery schools and higher education, although these are partly funded by the government) and the first nine years are compulsory. Children start school at the age of seven (six-year-olds attend preschool) and finish at 15. Then they have a choice of staying on for senior high. Children aged between six and 12 are offered daycare before and after school.
Thirty years ago, Sweden became the first nation in the world to prohibit all corporal punishment of children. This radical step pioneered the way for many more countries to follow suit.
Of the 9.5 million people living in Sweden, 2 million are under the age of 18. Most of them take for granted the fact that they can enjoy free schooling, an active social life, as well as easy access to nature and the internet.