*







27 March 2014




The Child Care Service experience from a lawyer’s perspective

By Dag Sverre Aamodt, lawyer


•••

This article was first written in Norwegian three years ago, and was re-published on the internet by Fedrerett (Fathers' rights) on 31 January 2014, with the title En advokats erfaringer med barnevernet, and again on this website on 28 October 2014.

The English version was first published by Free Malaysia Today on 22 February 2014, as
The child care service in Scandinavia
If you have children, do not seek psychiatric help. You risk being confronted by this many years later if you come to the attention of Child Care Services.

Its publication in Malaysia was in connection with a case running in Sweden
which drew a lot of publicity in Malaysia, involving as it did a Malaysian family.

Some sentences from the three year old Norwegian version, relating to a revision of the Child Care Services Act planned at the time, have been taken out of the English version.
The translation and revision are by the author.

The article is published here with the author's kind consent.

•••


Firstly, some words about myself. I am 55 years old and I have practiced law as a certified lawyer in the town of Sandefjord since 1988. Before becoming a lawyer, I was a policeman. I have quite extensive experience with the Child Care Services. Initially as a policeman.

For an extended period of time, I was acting Chief of Police in the police district of Romsdal. Reading suicide notes was one of my obligations. One of these was from a young gipsy girl who had lost her child to Child Care Services. Her letter was heartbreaking and I decided to initiate investigations, so that she at least after her death would be taken seriously. The result was a shock.

Pages and pages of criticism from Child Care Services. I, myself, had small children at the time. Nearly every single action that gipsy girl was criticized for by Child Care Services, were things we did ourselves. My distinct impression was that she could do nothing right in Child Care Services' opinion. They had already decided, and presented the facts to suit their preconceived impression.

Unfortunately, I quit the Police before the investigations were finished and my successor decided to dismiss the case. They should have been punished.

I have, through the years, had a number of cases as lawyer relating to Child Care Services, even though I try to avoid these. My impression is that the outcome is totally dependent on the individual social worker assigned to the case. Some are God's angels on earth displaying an honest commitment to the well-being of the child in question, receptive of alternative opinions and aware of their role. Others are disasters where one injustice is heaped upon the other, against both parents and children. Already this is illustrative of the grave shortcomings of the law.

The Child Care Services act invades the individual’s private sphere to a large degree and must in reality be considered as the greatest threat to the Norwegian population today. The effect of the law seems to a great extent to be quite arbitrary, a significant indicator of the law’s shortcomings. Unfortunately, the catastrophes are much more common than the opposite. There is also a significant difference between the different counties.

The case handling is generally characterized partly by unsubstantiated opinions and partly by blatant lies. I have often observed reports from the Child Care Services that contain allegations without any link to reality. I have had two personal experiences as well.

Firstly, as a resource. We took in a young relative that had been evicted by his mother and gave him a home in a difficult period of his life. Child Care Services did not contribute at all, but gave him a number of promises they never kept. In the space of six months he had as many case officers. Child Care Services were a strain only.

And now, not long ago, concerning my new wife’s youngest child. A letter of concern was sent to Child Care Services directed against the child’s father, who has visitation rights. The Child Care Services initiated investigation against us. The instigator had also given information about my wife and me, even though he had never laid eyes on me, had never been to our house and had not seen my wife for many years. I reported this to the Police, citing false accusation. The Police dismissed it. I appealed to the District Attorney, whom upheld the Police’s decision.

The final report from Child Care Services was pure lies and gives the impression of being a rather helpless attempt to justify their action. The letter of concern was untrue and meant to harass the child’s father due to a conflict between the instigator and the father. Shortly thereafter I represented a client in a similar harassment case.

Part of the problem is that the Child Care Services Act goes way too far without the necessary legal protection of civil rights. Part of the problem is that there seems to be a culture where unsubstantiated opinions and rewriting the truth to fit the individual case officer and his picture of himself and his work, take the place of facts and evidence. This seems partly to be because of ideological reasons and partly due to the individual case officers' own comfort.

My opinion is that intervention from Child Care Services is so serious and with such great potential for damage that generating untrue letters of concern and false reports should be severely punished, whether you are a case officer or not. It is also an absolute minimum that satisfactory regulatory instruments are established to enable the individual parent, or child, to counter such false allegations.

The main problem, however, seems to be the ideological basis for the Child Care Services Act. It is my firm opinion that Child Care Services must establish without reasonable doubt that the child is better off being taken away from its parents, than the opposite. This is not the case today.

I seem to remember that, in conjunction with the latest series of compensatory settlements for
children taken into the custody of Child Care Services, more than 300 claims were made in the county of Vestfold alone. How many children did Child Care Services take into custody in Vestfold in the relevant period of time?

Also the mandatory reporting duties to Child Care Services of other professionals are a problem
. If you have children, do not seek psychiatric help. You risk being confronted by this many years later if you come to the attention of Child Care Services. Don’t seek advice from a priest or medical personnel. And, do not, under any circumstance, apply for financial aid. If in financial trouble, my advice is clear: it is much better to prostitute yourself than to avail yourself of the social security. This is not how it is meant to be.










*