News | 23 May 2023

Statement in regards to the events at IES Karlstad

IES Karlstad has been hit by one of the worst nightmares of any parent and of anyone working in a school. A couple of weeks ago, a member of staff was detained by the police, suspected of severe child pornography offence. The detained is suspected of secretly taking photographs and filming students, fully dressed, in ordinary situations at school, and then manipulating the photos outside of the school and spreading them in a pornographic context. The person has admitted to child pornography. He is no longer working at IES.

We are very grateful to the police, who through another investigation could expose the now detained person. As soon as they reached out, the IES crisis team together with the Karlstad school leadership started planning how to best provide crisis support and information to all that would need it. Special crisis experts were brought in, and a crisis phone number was opened. Additional school counsellors and several subject matter experts from IES HQ also travelled to Karlstad. They have been available for students and for guardians, for a little more than a week. Extra support will be in place for as long as it is needed.

While there is a relief that no child was aware of their pictures being taken, nor was anyone physically abused, the school and the local community in Karlstad have reacted with shock and disbelief. Many of our staff also have their children in the school, which means concern both as parents and as staff. 

Questions are now raised if the detained person could have been intercepted somehow. We must remember, that it is extremely hard to detect persons who commit crimes against children, also for professionals who have worked a long time doing just that. The fact that this criminal act was committed outside of the school, makes it no doubt even harder.

We fully understand parents who are disappointed, concerned or angry. What must not happen has happened. Therefore, we have appointed an external investigation to scrutinise whether or not any mistakes were made. It is important to remember that what happened is every school leader's worst nightmare, and the school management also welcomes the investigation.

It is important, for every IES school and for IES as an organisation, that we do what is right. Trust will always be the foundation of our work, as parents entrust us with the education of their children and expect us to keep all children safe during the school day. If something should have been done differently at IES Karlstad, actions will be taken. If events have been managed right, it is important that this also comes into light.

I want to acknowledge the trauma of students, parents and staff in Karlstad. At the same time, I am proud of the crisis response that was swiftly put into place so we could provide support to as many as possible, as quickly as possible.