Rape threats, beating with clubs, throwing rocks. The last year’s ordeal for the neighbours in a small vicinity of Grums, Sweden, is more and more turning into a nightmare. A child gang consisting of 8-12 year old migrants puts the neighbourhood in such a fear that Swedish kids no longer go outside and play.
Tenants in an area in the small municipality of Grums in Värmland, Sweden are too afraid to let their kids go outside since a gang of 8-12 year old migrants started to harass the vicinity last summer.
Mothers Kajsa and Malin live in the neighbourhood. "They've thrown rocks, beated kids up with steel pipes and sticks until they’ve started to bleed. The worst one was a strangling grip which resulted in marks on the kid’s neck. But it’s also about sexual threats: "I’m gonna sex you" or "I’m gonna rape you", Malin says to the Swedish Union of Tenants newspaper, Hem och Hyra.
Tenant union fears increasing racism
Malin and Kajsa contacted the local Swedish Union of Tenants in Grums for help. The tenant union wrote a letter to the local Police department, the social services and the housing company Grumsbostäder, in which the union demands action against the escalating situation. The union focuses on fear of escalating racism and segregation in its letter.
"The ones who cause the problems and violence are kids of new-coming migrants. That's why neighbours start to make connections between the problems and xenophobic views. In the long term, this will result in a very segregated vicinity where neighbours speak in terms of "us and them", that'll escalate if this isn't stopped very soon", the Union writes in its letter.
No police report
No one has filed a police report yet, despite the violence and seriousness such as bruises on kid’s necks. At a recent meeting between the tenants, the union and the Police, some tenants thought that it would be impossible to report children as young as 8 and that the Police would laugh at them. Grums local Police officer Lennart Hynynen is very troubled by the incidents.
"I don’t have all the facts yet but from what I’ve heard, it's very disturbing. In all my years as a Police man, I've never experienced that so young people go together and threaten people like this and act this violently.
Fear of retaliation
Tenant Malin says that the situatio'is beyond control and that her daughter's becoming more and more frightened to leave the apartment.
"One of my girls cry at night and want us to go to our trailer because she’s so scared. And we can't tell them to stop either, out of fear for revenge. They'll put trash in our letterboxes or attack my kids even more when I’m not around. Or, if you tell them to stop, they show a lot of attitude. As an adult, to get spitted upon in the face and being told "I’m not listening to you because you’re a woman" and to be called words I never use, that's extremely offensive. It might sound strange for someone who hasn't experienced it, but you kind of lose everything when a kid does such things to you and you don’t know what to do", Malin says.
Parents can’t speak Swedish
The problem started a year ago, and has escalated beyond control in the latest months. No-one can either speak to the child gang’s parents who can't speak Swedish. Interpretor's required in every contact, that makes communication more difficult.
Police Officer Lennart Hynynen confirms that it's absolutely possible to report children to the Police and that the Social Services must take over the cases with young perpetrators.
"From my point of view, problems like these come from the parents and in this case I know that these parents don’t speak Swedish at all, so we really can’t say if these parents really know what their kids are doing", says Lennart Hynynen.