The Great Swedish Birthday Party Row of 2008

A child’s decision to not invite two classmates to his birthday party has ended up in the Swedish Parliament. The boy was forced to take back his already distributed invitations after the teacher discovered that not all children were invited, a breach of school policy which insists that children wanting to distribute invitations during school invite either all classmates or all boys or girls to parties. The school insists that the rules are there to prevent any form of discrimination. The father of the child has reported the matter to the Parliamentary Ombudsman and has explained that the two children were excluded because one did not invite his son to his party and the lad had fallen out with the other boy. Channel 4 has been running a discussion forum on the topic here.

  • susan

    The controversy is missing the point. There is no politically correct mandate stating all children must invite all classmates, or all classmates of their own gender, to all their birthday parties — only a common sense rule that if invitations are going to be passed out INSIDE the classroom in full view of the schoolchildren no one is to be singled out for exclusion. It isn’t correctness, it’s kindness and manners.

    The parents should have let their son pick his own birthday guests, then put the invitations in the post. Their failure to do so set their son and his classmates up for humiliation and disappointment.

    Life is hard enough. Anyone out to convince me that it needs to be that little bit harder by subjecting young children to avoidable scenes of social rejection inside their own classrooms better be carrying a lead pipe, because I am having none of it.

  • Rory

    Susan echoes my sentiments on this matter absolutely as does “Seeker”, the lone voice of reason and common sense among the Channel 4 responses. Hardly surprising then that “Seeker” is able to describe herself/himself (I suspect the former) as a parent of two schoolchildren and might then have some experience in the matter and whose sensible comments stood out starkly among the crude anti-Swedish trolling of most other commentators.

    The first contributor to the Channel4 forum, “Anonimouse”, for example chortled :

    ” Even the civilised Swedes have gone from the sublime to the gorblimey as lad who didn’t invite 2 classmates to his birthday party is accused of ‘discrimination’.”

    which completely ignored the obvious – that the boy was clearly discriminating by leaving out two of his classmates from the invitation list, something the school could not prevent – his home, his party. The school rules (of which the parents ought to have been aware)were that he could not publicly exercise that blatant show of discrimination in the classroom with the attendant risk of disruption that was likely to follow. We should applaud the school fror its attempt to instill a code of good manners and kind thinking among its pupils and decry the boy’s parents for aiding the boy’s attempt to break the school rules which we must presume they had agreed to upon his entering the school.

  • BOM

    Well done to the Swedish school for thinking of the feelings of the children! You wouldnt get that in Northern Ireland and due to this I have had to deal with a very upset child who continues to be left out from birthday parties and group games etc. It appears she isnt good enough for the others in her class and certain children are dictating to others about who they should or shouldnt invite to their events or play with at all.

    I wonder what the bullying statistics are in Swedish schools or the statistics relating to child depression? I would be interested to see if they are any better or worse than the statistics for Northern Ireland or the UK in general.

    Parents should think of the consequences of leaving out one or two people all the time. It affects the parents as well as the children and is heartbreaking if gets out of hand.

  • picador

    Exclusion like this is bullying – pure and simple. How would you feel as an adult if you were subjected to this?

  • Paul in CT

    Good grief! Is there nothing the nanny state doesn’t think to control? Should we legislate good manners? It’s not just in Sweeden, here in the US some schools are prohibiting students from bringing cup cakes into school to celebrate a child’s birthday because they prmoote obesity.

  • Moochin Photoman

    Invitations for my 5 year old are generally phoned through with an invite put in his bag discreetly by the parent.

    It’s not rocket science but this case has been blown up out of all proportion.

  • Greenflag

    Remember folks we’re talking about a society (Sweden) that has not been at war since the mid 17th century IIRC ) i.e 350 years . They are also a seriously ‘neutral ‘ State in that they believe in defending themselves .

    On the face of itthis case it sounds OTT for this part of the world but full marks to the Swedes .

    The logistics of kids party invites may be easier in Sweden where I presume they don’t as a rule have 30 or more kids in a class .

    Sensible people the Swedes -boring as hell but sensible . It can’t be easy dealing with a 22 hours of daylight for half the year and 22 hours of darkness for the other half 🙂

  • santa

    Sweden should be fairly re-partitioned between the Swedes, the Lapps and the elves. The Norwegians and the Finns can f**k off.

    P.S. Olaf Palme was murdered by Steakknife and Maggie Thatcher.

  • Rory

    Paul in CT :

    Pity about your teachers’ discrimination on “cupcakes” (whatever they may be) in “CT” (wherever that may be). Bigger pity still that they paid no care to spelling ability.

  • Dave

    Susan, the only way to avoid “subjecting young children to avoidable scenes of social rejection inside their own classrooms” is to ban socialising within the classrooms. Following that logic would lead you to ban socialising inside of the school gates. Friendship is discriminatory by default – something that can’t be circumvented by PC social engineering. In this case, the little monster was engaging in the retaliatory snubbing of two other little monsters that had previously snubbed it. Yes, the parents could have sent the invitations by post to the other parents (had their little monster asked all of the other little monsters to write down their addresses in the classroom for the purpose of sending an invitation – except the two little monsters it wanted to snub, thereby snubbing them anyway). As Paul in CT noted, this is the Nannystate gone mad.

  • fenian bastard

    So. What next? You have a barbecue and invite some of your neighbours.

    Any neighbour not invited takes you to court.

    Thanks be to fuck I dont live in Sweden.

  • susan

    Dave, I have young children of my own.
    Nor am I unfamiliar with the goings on in classrooms.
    it is precisely because there is so much UNavoidable social rejection in and out of classrooms and schoolyards that many schools, parent associations, and individual teachers distribute mailing lists at the start of a school year for parties, etc.
    If only one or two children are not invited to a birthday party, yes, the excluded few are probably going to catch wind of it, and yes, they are probably going to experience hurt. The intent is to at least keep their discomfort, and their parents, private, and spare them a small public humiliation.
    It is a school rule that was flaunted, not a decree of the kingdom of Sweden.

    BOM, your daughter has you on her side, and that means more to the young woman she’ll ultimately become than the fickle whims of a shower of wee sprites — yes, I said sprites, we are discussing children — on a power trip. Wish I could give you both a big hug in the meantime, though.

    Rory, I’m with you. A cup cake is a fairy cake, by the way, and CT is an abbreviation for a state, or state of mind, beginning with letter “C” and ending with “T”.

  • Rory

    There is no law law on earth, Fenian Bastard, nor any penalty invocable in law that I can imagine that could possibly compel me to invite anyone with such a charming outlook on life as you to a barbecue, or any other gathering at my home (or I suspect those of most Swedes who are in the main a decent bunch of tolerable people). So do relax.

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