things I have not
Barnevernet (child protection services, CPS)
Marianne Haslev Skånland
you open your mouth (or sharpen your pen), you risk being
misunderstood. Quite common and quite natural, of course –
you just have to put up with it in as good-natured a way as
you can. Several years ago I made up my mind that I would
not spend a lot of time e.g trying to put right what
journalists writing regarding my concern about Barnevernet
(the child protection system) might erroneously claim that
I had said. (Any need to rectify anything from interviews
has luckily become very limited as I have found out that
I'd better leave to others to be interviewed while I
confine myself mostly to writing!)
But a few misinterpretations of things I have written or
said seem to live on and are still being quoted years
later. One reader of my articles suggested I should make
clear what my real thoughts were on a couple of these
points, because incorrect inferences might sidetrack
discussions of serious issues.
So I'll try to put a few things right:
I have not said that Barnevernet is wrong in 99% of all
cases. The newspaper interviewing me expressed it in too
strong terms. It is unfortunate, because if you say "99 per
cent", it means in practice "100 per cent", which appears
ill-considered, over-dramatic, hysterical, obstinate.
I recall the question. I responded
with something like: There is probably a very high number
of cases in which the CPS take children into care
unnecessarily and harmfully, and two lawyers I know who
have had long experience of such cases, one in Norway and
one in Sweden, have assessed, respectively, 80 and 90% of
such transfers of care to be wrong, in the sense of being
both unnecessary and harming the child greatly.
I have not said that Barnevernet can be compared to the
This is probably a mistake which
has made its way into some reference to something I wrote
in the article "Dr Mengele & Co in action in Norwegian
homes?", from where it has spread. The text in my article
"It is no longer possible to avoid seeing the similarity
between the public care system of our Norwegian social
authorities (CPS, the child protection services) and the
Nazi SS, the KGB of the Soviet Union, and the Inquisition a
few centuries ago."
Elsewhere I have also pointed to
the activities of East German Stasi as a parallel, because
Stasi carried out comprehensive monitoring and
straight-jacketing of people's private lives.
I have never thought of American
CIA in such a connection. Irrespective of what anybody
might think the American intelligence service abroad does,
I do not know of anything like the CIA occupying themselves
with ordinary lives of families with children in the USA or
anything that might bring to mind some sort of parallel to
I have not said that I do not know if any violence or abuse
takes place in families.
This, too, must stem from my
responding to a question in an interview, and I believe I
said that yes of course such cases exist, but that it is
nearly impossible to be sure
which cases are
genuine, because the handling of cases by Barnevernet and
their fate in county committees and in the courts are not
such that we can trust in the outcome not being miscarriage
of justice. There have been a considerable number of
instances in which innocent people have been found guilty,
both in criminal cases and in child protection cases.
I have not said, about a boy who had been moved from one
foster home where he was content to another where he was
not, that he
should flee back to the
first one. I have not recommended anything as something the
boy ought to do.
This, also, was in the context of
an interview with a newspaper. There was some discussion
about an ongoing case which was well-known from the media,
a discussion in which all sorts of people held opinions of
what needed to be done – whether the boy should be in one
place or another.
I then said something like this:
But if the situation is such and such, then I suppose he
had better just flee back then, if that is what he wants.
If other items were to turn up which I do not want to own,
this list may be added to!