Skip to content

German officials did not violate homeschoolers' rights, European court says

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

By (CNA/EWTN)
1/14/2019 (7 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Two homeschooling German parents who said their parental rights were violated by the enforcement of compulsory school attendance laws did not prevail in the European Court of Human Rights, which unanimously rejected their claims Thursday.

Highlights

By (CNA/EWTN)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
1/14/2019 (7 months ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: German officials, violate homeschoolers, European court


Strasbourg, France, (CNA/EWTN News) - "It is a very disheartening day for our family and the many families affected by this in Germany," Dirk Wunderlich, who with his wife Petra are the parents of four children, said Jan. 10.

"After years of legal struggles, this is extremely frustrating for us and our children," he continued. "It is upsetting that the European Court of Human Rights has not recognized the injustices we have suffered at the hands of the German authorities."

The parents are devout Christians and thought even private schools would expose their children to "unwanted influences," BBC News reports.

When the oldest Wunderlich child reached school age in 2005, they refused to register in a school. When they faced several regulatory fines and criminal proceedings for failure to comply with compulsory school attendance, "they accepted the decisions and paid the fines, but did not change their behavior," the court decision said.

The family lived abroad between 2008 to 2011, and upon their return to permanent residence in Germany also did not register the children.

In August 2013, a group of at least 20 police officers and social workers raided the Wunderlich home and took away their four children. ADF International, the legal group representing the parents, claimed that the action left the family traumatized.

The children were placed in a children's home for three weeks. Though they were eventually returned to their parents, their legal status was not clear. The children were enrolled in a school from 2013 to 2014.

In its Jan. 10 decision, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights said that compulsory school attendance to "prevent social isolation" and to ensure their integration in society are relevant justifications to intervene against parental authority.

German officials were reasonable to assume that parents had "endangered their children by not sending them to school," the court said. The parents "persistently resisted and prevented the children's situation from being examined in detail" by German authorities.

"Based on the information available at the time, the domestic authorities had reasonably assumed that the children were isolated, had had no contact with anyone outside of the family, and that a risk to their physical integrity had existed," the court said.

The court acknowledged that the parents later submitted learning assessments showing that the children had "sufficient knowledge, social skills and a loving relationship with their parents," but this information was not available to officials when they decided to withdraw parental custody in a temporary and partial manner.

ADF International director of international advocacy Robert Clark said the Wunderlichs "simply wanted to educate their children consistent with their convictions and decided their home environment would be the best place for this," he said. "Children deserve this loving care from their parents."

Homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since 1918, though in recent years the policy has raised questions and concerns with human rights groups who say it is an infringement on the right to family life.

After appeals to German courts failed, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to review the Wunderlichs' case. The family claimed German officials' actions breached the right to family life and parental authority, including the right to determine the children's place of residence. This right is protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"We are extremely disappointed with this ruling, which disregards the rights of parents all over Europe to raise their children without disproportionate interference from the government," said Clarke.

The Wunderlichs' legal counsel is advising them about their options, including a possible appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

Several German families who wish to homeschool, many of them Christian, have sought refuge in the United States to ensure their ability to educate their children at home. Others have moved to countries like France or Austria, which have less strict laws.

In 2014, Germany's Constitutional Court ruled that restrictions on homeschooling were justified on the grounds that the government has a compelling interest in preventing the formation of religious or ideological parallel societies. The court also argued that requiring children to attend school provides them the benefit of interacting with other children who might think differently.

In 2006, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that there is no right to homeschool.


Comments


More Europe

New South Wales parliament delays final abortion bill vote Watch

Image of

A final vote on a bill to decriminalize abortion in the Australian state of New South Wales has been delayed until the middle of September, ... continue reading


Exorcists to Jesuit head: Satan is real Watch

Image of

An international organization of Catholic exorcists said Thursday that the existence of Satan as a real and personal being is a truth of ... continue reading



Analysis: Pell, and the politics of Rome Watch

Image of

This week's decision by the Court of Appeal in Victoria marked the apparent conclusion of the criminal trial of Cardinal George Pell in ... continue reading


Agreement reached on permanent Holy See representative to Vietnam Watch

Image of

 A Holy See-Vietnam diplomacy working group, which met inside the Vatican this week, reached an agreement on establishing a permanent ... continue reading


Vatican diplomat: Solidarity must be at the heart of the European project Watch

Image of

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States said Wednesday that politics surrounding migration in Europe fuel ideological conflicts ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.