In a parenting culture clash, the southern Italian visitor is being prosecuted in Stockholm under a super strict law against any form of “offensive treatment” of one’s own children -- not only slapping, but maybe even yelling at them.
STOCKHOLM – Europe may share a single currency, and other signs of increasing integration and common culture. But apparently there is still a major North-South divide when it comes to a key question: parenting. A local politician from southern Italy was arrested during his vacation in Sweden for having slapped his son in public. He risks a conviction for assault on a minor, according to the strict Swedish law which since 1966 has forbidden any kind of physical punishment of children.
Giovanni Colasante, town counselor of the small village of Canosa in Puglia, was on vacation in Stockholm with his family and friends. On August 23, the group was going to a restaurant, but Colasante's 12-year-old son threw a tantrum and refused to enter with the rest of the group. According to the charges, Colasante slapped him in the face.
Colasante denies the charges. "The child refused to enter in the restaurant. His father scolded him vehemently, and gesticulated. But this is how we do things in Italy," said his defense attorney Giovanni Patruno. "Colasante didn't hit his son."
What is known is that Colasante's heated reaction convinced some witnesses that the man was assaulting his son. They alerted the police who arrested Colasante. The Italian man spent three days and two nights in a Stockholm jail, and cannot leave the city before the trial which will take place on Sep. 6.
The attorney Patruno says that surely his client will be released, given that his action was only a "vehement scolding." In Italy, where people are often loud, the scene would have been considered normal. But in Sweden even yelling too much could be punished as a crime. According to the Swedish law «förbud mot barnaga» against children physical abuse, even «kränkande behandling» (offensive treatment) is forbidden. Yes, it appears that what elsewhere is a "good scolding" can be punished with jail time.
Read the full story by Francesco Saverio Alonzo
Photo - Håkan Dahlström