Is Denmark a nation of vigilantes?

Nearly half of Danes in a recent poll supported taking the law into their own hands and parents are increasingly confronting children who they suspect of harassing their own kids.

Is Denmark a nation of vigilantes?
Whether in the schoolyard or elsewhere, an increasing number of Danes seem to be taking matters into their own hands. Photo: Niels Ahlmann Olesen/Scanpix
Taking matters into one’s own hands appears to be a growing trend in Denmark. 
A recent survey conducted for the newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad revealed that nearly half of all Danes think that vigilantism is acceptable under certain circumstances, and eight percent reported that they themselves had taken the law directly into their own hands. 
The same newspaper also reported on Monday that an increasing number of Danish parents are directly confronting schoolchildren who tease or bully their own kids rather than reporting those incidents to school officials. 
Jørgen Dalberg-Larsen, professor emeritus at Aarhus University’s Department of Law, said that there is a growing opinion amongst Danes that the police aren’t always able to help them.
“It is precisely when people think that the law has failed that vigilantism is typically carried out,” he told Kristeligt Dagblad.
The same dynamic can be seen when parents confront children directly rather than approach teachers or school leaders. 
“Vigilantism from parents who circumvent the system and go directly after kids that they feel are harassing their own children is unfortunately become more widespread,” Kenneth Christoffersen, the school leader at Hyltebjerg Skole in the Copenhagen district of Vanløse, told Kristeligt Dagblad. “I see it as a lack of trust in the school, but also part of a general trend in which parents have become more overprotective of their children.” 
Claus Hjortdal, the chairman of the Danish Association of School Leaders (Skolelederforeningen), said that although he doesn’t see the problem as widespread, the phenomenon of parents directly confronting other children is increasing.
“It is a development that has particularly grown over the past couple of years, and it’s true enough that it has to do with a lack of trust in the schools from the parents’ side, but there is also a one-sided belief in what one’s own child says,” Hjortdal told Kristeligt Dagblad. “For many, children are the proof that you have succeeded as a family and therefore they get a lot of focus.”
In Kristeligt Dagblad’s poll, 46 percent of respondents thought it was acceptable to take matters into one’s own hands, while 44 percent did not.  

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Domestic helper suspected of stealing valuables and cash from older adults in Copenhagen

A 31-year-old female domestic helper is suspected of having stolen cash and jewellery from elderly citizens and withdrawn money from their Dankorts in the amount of over 50,000 kroner.

Domestic helper suspected of stealing valuables and cash from older adults in Copenhagen

The woman was arrested on Saturday and charged with theft and information fraud. There are ten victims in the case.

The police suspect the woman of having stolen from citizens whose homes she has visited as part of her work as a domestic worker in various places in Copenhagen.

“She has worked as a domestic helper and has been in people’s homes as an employee,” Bjarke Dalsgaard, deputy police inspector at Copenhagen police, said.

According to the police, the woman has stolen jewellery and cash on ten occasions. In addition, she has stolen debit cards in four cases and withdrawn money using them. The money that has been withdrawn alone adds up to a value of 52,000 kroner.

Copenhagen police received the first report of theft in the case at the beginning of 2022.

According to the police, the 31-year-old domestic helper admitted to one instance of crime (the theft of around 400 kroner) but pleaded not guilty regarding the remaining 13.