The National Board of Institutional Care, SiS, is responsible for the care and treatment of young people with serious social problems, young offenders sentenced to secure institutional treatment and for adult drug and alcohol abusers. The care is given, generally, without the co-operation of the individual involved and is regulated by the Care of Young Persons Act; a law with special provisions regarding the care of young people, integrating the Care of Alcoholics, Drug Abusers and Abusers of Volatile Solvents Act. At present, SiS has thirty-two special institutions for young people and fifteen institutions for the care of drug and alcohol abusers, situated in different parts of Sweden.
These thirty-two institutions for specialised supervision are often referred to as Special Approved Homes. The youngsters in these institutions display a broad range of deep psycho-social problems with criminality and drug abuse being dominant. Every year, about a thousand youths are sent to these specially approved institutions. Their ages range between twelve and twenty-one, but the majority is between fifteen and seventeen years of age. There is one girl to every four or five boys. SiS is responsible for the planning, controlling and administration of these Special Approved Homes. One important task is to follow up and develop the direction of care, as well as to initiate and support research.
Follow-up studies carried out by Sven Forsling, among others, have shown that delinquent girls placed together with boys, have limited possibilities of tackling their own problems. The girls tend to listen more to the boys, giving them priority. They also run a high risk of being sexually abused by the boys. Frossarbo Stables was an institution that accepted only girls. Sven Forsling was its initiator and its director for ten years. Frossarbo Stables was his achievement. There, the girls were not compared to boys; their anger was considered something specific to them, not something approaching the behaviour problems of the boys.
Frossarbo Stables centred its treatment on 'girls and horses', training delinquent girls to care for horses which were being trained for participation in racing. As you will learn in this book, there was much more to Frossarbo's programme than teaching the many stages in the care of racehorses. The concept was designed for the psychological treatment of the girls themselves: And it worked - strikingly well - not just for one year, or three, but for ten years. Frossarbo Stables became a concept within the treatment of juvenile delinquents in Sweden. Frossarbo Stables also became a constant reminder of the strength and capacity of those of our youngsters that we, too often, regard as hopeless cases. Some years ago, SiS ran a three-day seminar under the banner: There are no hopeless cases: This book will give you scientific support for this bold statement.
In a criminal/penal world, partly hardened by cynicism and a plethora of failures, made worse by the adverse impact of many penal programmes themselves, we now have proof of something that actually worked. It did so by innovation, the dedication of staff, the personalised, professional application of wise kindness and sensitive feedback, all intensely monitored. A powerfully attractive reward system and caring environment provided opportunities for the girls, teaching us a lesson that is both very simple and instructively complex. The latter is sadly demonstrated by the failure of Frossarbo, once its leader - as well as some of his well-trained staff - retired after ten years. This book can therefore be seen as Sven Forsling's testament. It emphasises that which happens between the girl and her horse. Sven Forsling opens up a new area within the field of therapy with emotionally disturbed juveniles, demonstrating the power that the horse brings into the therapeutic arena, as well as the support and hope that come with it. Sven Forsling has the ability to create pictures with words, but as he, himself, says, there are many instances of one picture having to overlay another before the final picture emerges. At SiS we have awaited the result with excitement. The pictures shine with their own light, a light that can hardly leave anyone unaffected. They reflect the author's deep and genuine involvement and his critical thinking, in a way that is alive and vibrant. We can all learn from this report; the fruit of accumulated knowledge and experience during a long working-life as practitioner and researcher.
Director General - SiS