Confined space for preschool children
According to the Swedish Animal Welfare Act, pigs have more space in which to roam than the average Swedish preschool child. The number of square meters per child in Stockholm has decreased 16 percent during the past six years. And now inner city preschools are encouraged to become even more efficient with their space. But there are risks involved with this kind of development. “You can imagine there are more risks for conflicts in a more confined space. From a health perspective, less space leads to more transmissions of infections and viruses,” says IngBeth Larsson, project leader and investigator at Skolinspektionen (Swedish Schools Inspectorate). Stockholm has no lower threshold for how confined a preschool may become. An earlier recommendation from Skolverket (Swedish National Agency for Education) said each child should have 7.5 to 9.5 square meters (80 to 102 square feet), but that recommendation was removed a couple years ago; since then the amount of square meters children have has decreased below 7.5. According to calculations made by, the average preschool child has a personal space of about 7.2 square meters (77 square feet). The equivalent space six years ago was 8.5 square meters (91 square feet). In reality, the space is even smaller than that, since kitchen and staff spaces are included in the calculations. A pig has to have at least 7 square meters (75 square feet) in which to move, according to recommendations by Jordbruksverket (Swedish Board of Agriculture). Baby booms, higher rents and the fact that many families with children decide to stay in the city instead of moving to the suburbs are some of the factors behind this development. In an official statement regarding the new system for setting rents, preschools are encouraged to have a “higher surface efficiency” in the future. But in spite of risks for viruses and increased conflicts, physical space at preschools is not what’s most important, according to Skolinspektionen. “Of course it’s important that the teachers at preschools can carry out their work, but what matters most is the staff’s competence and how they organize their activities,” says IngBeth Larsson.

Police confiscates more marijuana
The amount of marijuana in Sweden continues to increase. Last year 5,962 confiscations were made, a marked increase compared to 2011, when there were only 3,812, according to statistics from police. Another difference is that in earlier years Sweden was self-sufficient in the production of marijuana with indoor cultivation. But according to Rikskriminalen, the demand has become so high that the production in Sweden is no longer enough. “The market expanded heavily when a foreign criminal network introduced indoor growing some years ago. Smoking a joint is more accepted among young people now,” says analyst Stewe Alm at Rikskriminalen in a comment. The trend among heavier drugs is different. Last year, police registered only 800 grams of heroin. In 2011, it was 3.2 kilos. Sales of heroin has increased in Stockholm, however. And confiscation of drugs sold over the Internet more than doubled last year. Even sales of traditional drugs has become more common online, and in order to solve the problem, police have recruited civil experts. Education in the sales of drugs online will also be included in the police training.

Sweden among the top in UNICEF survey
A survey ranking developed countries in terms of children’s well-being shows Sweden is still a good place to be a child. The survey—called Report Card 11—ranks 29 developed countries according to the overall well-being of their children. Each country’s rank is based on its average ranking for the five dimensions of child well-being: material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviors and risks, and housing and environment. The Netherlands top the list, followed by Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Sweden in fifth place (Denmark comes in at number 11). Sweden’s overall score is 6.2 (compared to the Netherland’s top 2.4 overall rank). The online report can be read under Key Findings: “Four Nordic countries—Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden—sit just below the Netherlands at the top of the child well-being table. Four southern European countries—Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain—are placed in the bottom half of the table.” The five bottom spots are ranked 25: Greece, 26: United States, 27: Lithuania, 28: Latvia and 29: Romania. The full report can be found here: UNICEF Innocenti Report Card 11