7 May 2015
Is the child
protection service silent?
translations from Norwegian of title of the article
discussed and quotations from it are
Norwegian version of this article was published on 5 May
two writers of an article in the Norwegian newspaper
Dagsavisen, Audgunn Oltedal and Helga Johannesdottir,
wonder why the child protection service (CPS) does not go
out in the media when their obligation of confidentiality
does not bar them from doing so. As a contrast, they point
to the far greater willingness of the police to give
information to the media:
Et "ansiktsløst" barnevern
protection service without a face)
4 May 2015
of all: The CPS does not keep silent at all, in my opinion.
On the contrary, they receive all manner of goodwill, space
and time in the press and other media to voice their own
excellence. But it is true enough that they, by and large,
speak in general terms, not about the concrete details of
their actions and assertions in particular child protection
cases. Oltedal and Johannesdottir's article mixes together,
in an unclear way, concrete cases (like statements about
the Lithuania cases, cf here and here) with that which they want,
viz that the CPS should be even stronger in their
"Hvorfor svarer ikke ledelsen i barnevernet på spørsmål
om hva barnevernet gjør, er og vil?"
(Why do the
directors in the child protection service not answer
questions about what the child protection service does, is
and wants to achieve?)
Oh? But the child protection service certainly does talk
about this! The whole time! Now the Norwegian ambassador in
Lithuania has even hired a public relations firm to
"present Norway's case".
However, in general statements from the CPS and other
Norwegian authorities the comprehensive evidence for the
negative aspects of the actions of the CPS is left out.
Statistics exist showing the results for children being
"taken care of" by the CPS, as well as the prevailing
conditions during the time they have been in CPS "care" or
been subject to other CPS "help measures" (e.g statistics
of how many of them escape and are brought back by the use
of force and police assistance). Such information certainly
should take a central place, in particular if one is so
allergic to "single cases" that one will not take in the
lesson from the many single cases which are convergent and
which add up to most of the general picture. All of this,
and the implications of it in particular, is kept quiet.
What is presented is undocumented assertions like "in the
large majority of cases", "all other measures have been
attempted before the CPS takes children into care", "in
some cases the parents prove unable to ...".
What is needed in order to place all the propaganda in
favour of Norwegian child protection in its appropriate
context and inform people generally, is not more hot-air
about what the CPS does, is and wants to achieve. Clear and
sustained exposition of realities is indicated. This may be
achieved by demonstrating carefully and in detail how very
many single cases start, develop and end. Here the CPS
So why does the CPS not talk concretely about single cases?
There are two reasons:
By referring to their obligation of confidentiality or to
the best interest of children and/or parents, the CPS
manages to put across the idea that the family in the
concrete case is extremely unfit to take care of their
child, that they may
have offended in
very serious ways, and that the CPS workers are the
responsible and sensible people who protect the child
against exposure of its terrible family.
Media people are just like most
Norwegians: they trust that official employees are honest,
responsible, knowledgeable and well-qualified – so the
media accept these innuendoes of the CPS
of course being trustworthy in their
Most Norwegians trust media reporters
having deep insight into the case "even if they cannot
write everything", for journalists must be honest,
responsible, knowledgeable and well-qualified, and they
trust that of
so are the public employees of the CPS also – so the
readers believe that of
course there must be something very
serious behind it all when the CPS says it is unable to
If the child protection workers' actions, arguments, claims
and details of very many concrete cases were to be shown
openly so that they could not be disputed, then Norwegians
– even superficial journalists – would face another reality
than the preconceptions current in the politically correct
ideology in our society today.
That would not suit the CPS very well. So
they shut up, to protect themselves, their employer/job
(the municipality), and all the other buddies involved in
the child protection industry.
police may from time to time cover up matters not to their
advantage. When such matters are exposed, they cause
justified alert and demands for reform. But the police
hardly have a comparable need to that of the child
protection service of hiding from view that practically all
their activities are different from what they are claimed
to be. Hence, perhaps, the difference in willingness to
give information to the press.
My budding understanding of the reality that is so
different from the surface image of the CPS lies twenty
years back. It was aided by my functioning as an expert
witness in some child protection cases before the courts
and a county committee. But this reality is not really
difficult to find, unless one lets prejudice and political
phrases stop one.
Oltedal probably has little insight into what goes on with
children and parents attacked by the CPS? Otherwise, why
does she wonder? About Johannesdottir we read that she is a
lecturer at HiOA (the district university of Oslo and
Akershus county), which educates child protection workers,
so she probably knows something. It does not seem, though,
that she would want the CPS to go public about anything but
the idealised picture – rose-coloured with an image of CPS
workers as martyrs for children – which is the officially
approved version in Norway already.
The two want more of the same. That fits badly with the
needs of children and families.