Danish News Round-Up: The growing cost of parents forced to stay home to look after their children

School absenteeism is costing society dearly and becoming a “desperate situation”, warns Professor Mikael Thastum from Aarhus University, an expert on the subject, to DR.

However, it is not a truancy problem, rather a failure to properly accommodate children with special needs and disabilities, along with a growing tendency to exclude problematic children.

Over 15,000 parents are forced to stay at home – at a cost to society of 1.6 billion kroner in lost earnings in 2021, an almost tripling of the 610 million kroner paid out by the authorities in 2017, according to Danmarks Statistik.

Expert: Integration efforts have failed
Efforts to integrate special needs students into regular public schools have mostly failed, claims Thastrum.

“We do not give enough help to these children and families. We do not sufficiently ensure they have a school where they can learn and thrive,” he said.

The pandemic is partly to blame. According to Thastum, children with autism, ADHD and anxiety found it difficult to return to school following the lifting of restrictions. Children with depression have also struggled.

Average of 17,000 kroner a month
The average parent at home receives 17,000 kroner in lost earnings a month, although the amount paid out can be as high as 33,063.

Nevertheless, studies carried out by the municipalities of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense have demonstrated that many parents are not better off in their situation.

Parents are eligible for lost earnings if it can be demonstrated the child is in need of greater care than what is offered at the place of education.

High risk of aquaplaning today due to heavy rain
Several police forces across the country have warned motorists of the increased risk of aquaplaning due to the heavy rainfall currently falling all over the country. Southern Jutland Police has already reported several cases, and there are warnings on the E20 and E45 motorways advising motorists to watch their speed. Too much water on the road can cause the tyres to lose contact with the surface, thus making it impossible to steer – a condition known as aquaplaning. 

Police claim they have trafficking ringleader in custody
Police in western Copenhagen suspect that a man recently arrested in France and returned to Denmark yesterday is the mastermind of a human trafficking operation that they have already arrested three people in connection with. An international warrant was issued for the 36-year-old Romanian in the autumn, and he was seized in Bayonne on December 13. He appeared before Glostrup Court today, but the hearing was held behind closed doors. 

Former PM meets president of Taiwan
Amid growing tensions between China and Taiwan, former Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen earlier today met with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of island country, in his capacity as the chair of Alliance of Democracies. “I am here to show my strong support for your right to live in freedom and peace,” he told the president. Rasmussen, who also served as secretary-general of NATO from 2009 to 2014, will remain in Taiwan until Thursday.

Handball side frustrated by corona restrictions
The Danish handball team are a little frustrated with the IHF governing body ahead of the start of the World Handball Championships in Sweden and Poland on January 11, as they are imposing strict corona regulations on all participating teams. “We have just seen a football World Cup, which is somewhat bigger than a handball World Cup, where corona has not been mentioned once. So it’s a shame we have to spend time and effort on it,” complained national coach Nikolaj Jacobsen. Should any players test positive for corona, they will have to isolate for five days and then need a negative test to resume participation. Denmark will play their group games in Sweden.

Hundreds of Coop supermarkets to close earlier at weekends
Don’t leave it too late this weekend to go shopping at your local SuperBrugsen or Kvickly. Owner Coop has confirmed that 150 of the stores will no longer stay open past 19:00 on the weekend. Coop, which over the second half of 2022 closed down all of its Fakta outlets, made the decision in light of spiralling costs – both goods and energy. A further 150 independent SuperBrugsen stores might also adjust their opening times, it added.

Denmark’s first commercial satellite enjoys successful launch
The first Danish commercial satellite is now orbiting Earth following a successful launch yesterday. Aalborg company Sternula will use its satellite to monitor global shipping – the first of 60 it intends to launch by 2029. The satellite’s successful journey, from its 15:56 launch onboard a Falcon 9 Transporter 6 rocket operated by US company SpaceX, to making contact with a ground station on Svalbard, took 66 minutes. 

Latest Messerschmidt verdict won’t be appealed
Prosecutors have confirmed they will not appeal against the December judgment that cleared Dansk Folkeparti leader Morten Messerschmidt of fraud charges in connection with alleged document forgery to obtain EU funds. “The decision is based, among other things, on a review of the premises of the judgment and the evidence of the case as well as the course of the case – not least the course after the charges, which led to two main hearings in the district court,” explained state attorney Jens-Christian Bülow in a statement.

Fire chief who became arsonist gets three years
A 51-year-old man, who yesterday pleaded guilty to starting 55 fires near Egtved in Southern Denmark between 2018 and 2022, was sentenced to three years in prison. Bizarrely, he was a former volunteer manager of a local fire station. However, he did not admit to starting the 400-hectare fire in Randbøl in 2018, which 100 firefighters spent more than three days tackling, and over 30 other blazes.

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