14 March, 2012 –
Last addition 30 March 2024

Marianne Haslev Skånland:

An incomplete list of reasons given by the child protection services (CPS) of the Nordic countries for depriving children of their parents

The list below was initiated on the 14 March 2012 and new points are added as time allows.

The list contains arguments all of which have been used by the Nordic child protection service (CPS) and/or allied professions and people, in actual cases, such as in case reports and in court when the CPS argues for the necessity of taking children away from their parents and placing them in foster homes or institutions. They bring up the same kind of arguments to prevent foster children being allowed to return home in cases in which both parents and children say clearly that they want to be reunited. A couple of standard arguments are then added: The foster child 'has now developed attachment to its foster parents' (even when the child says no) and 'the child must have routines and stability and not be moved' (even when the CPS has moved the foster child many times).

It is serious that these types of argument are allowed in our courts and are even accepted by our judges. Most revealing of all is the fact that such arguments are suggested by the CPS at all. If there are really as many children as the CPS claims living under so seriously bad conditions that it is clearly necessary to take them out of their homes, why then are arguments like those below brought up at all, and in case after case?

And why does anybody believe that 'child experts' who come up with that kind of argument – even had it been only in a single case – can be trusted in their 'diagnosing' of other cases?

No conclusion is therefore possible other than this one: Children are being taken away from their parents and their home for no
acceptable reason. Social workers and psychologists who eagerly argue in favour of depriving children of their parents, have their reasons, but they are not acceptable and are not at all in the best interest of the child.


The father is out of work and cannot support the family.

The father is ill and the mother cannot get paid work. Therefore the family is too badly off to pay for toys and for school and after-school activities for the children. [The foster home received many thousands of crowns each month for each foster child.]

Clean clothes are not placed in 'military order' in the cupboard.

The psychologist registered that the mother could not make an omelet to his satisfaction and she cuts the bread into too thick slices.

The child looks eagerly at strangers around it and smiles at them. This means that it is not attached to its mother. [The mother stood talking to some people after visiting the social security office, while the baby in the pram looked eagerly at people around it.]

The baby turns its face the wrong way when its father washes it. [Probably an insinuation that the child did not want to look at its father because it disliked him. In reality perhaps it didn't want to get soap in its eyes, so what is the 'wrong' and 'right' way to avoid that?]

The mother uses too much soap when cleaning. [Reported to the CPS by a 'home helper' who had been instructed by the CPS not to help with practical work but to 'observe' the family.]

The father is too active, the mother is too passive. [CPS observers are frightening enough to make anybody either, out of sheer nervousness.]

The father has a foot injury and cannot stand on a ladder. Therefore he is not able to clean the top of the window frames.

The house does not have an indoor toilet but outdoor conveniences. [This assessment made by the CPS makes one wonder how they imagine generations of people survived in Scandinavia in previous centuries when everybody had outdoor toilets (not in the open, of course, but in a shed separate from the house and without any heating) and no CPS to 'protect' children against them. They were even in use in some parts of downtown Oslo 60 years ago and are still common with summer cabins and also with many winter cabins up in the mountains – can be freezing cold.]

The mother has made a previous landlord angry because her cats had urinated on the floor. [This had happened several years before her daughter was born, but it was used as proof that the mother did not provide a good environment for her daughter.]

The child is not interested in the 'concept training' in kindergarten.

(13)  The mother wants to let the children's grandmother bring them to and from physiotherapy and other medical treatment which they need, instead of taking them herself. In this the mother puts her own interests before the children's. [The mother, who is a single provider, has started an education and goes to classes at the relevant times. The grandmother is more than willing to take the children to their treatment. The CPS works to pressure the mother into giving up her professional training – which would keep her locked in the power of the social services for financial reasons – to take the children to treatment herself and they try to forbid the grandmother to do so.]

The son plays truant from school. [The mother even took unpaid leave from her work in order to walk with him to and from school. The CPS still blamed her for the boy's not liking school.]

The parents have asked the CPS for help because their child does not keep up with what he should learn in school. [Actually, many cases start by parents asking for some kind of help. They are then branded as incapable of giving care.]

The mother is very small. When the daughter grows to become a teenager, the mother will not be able to tackle her.

The grandmother is 54 years old. She is too old. The mother's sister is 28. She is too young. [The boy's mother had died and the family wanted to care for him. He was 12.]

When visiting the children the grandmother wanted to embrace them. The CPS had to stop that, since it can create an unwanted attachment.

When asked by the judge if she wanted to go home to her parents, the girl replied 'yes', but that is what all foster children want. She did not give any reason for wanting to go home. [From a court judgment. The fact that all/many want to go home is, in other words, turned into an argument for denying them the right to be reunited with their parents. The girl was 13 years old. She later said that the reason she had not replied to their 'Why?', was that she thought the judges were insane, since they could ask at all for a reason why she wanted to go home to her beloved parents.]

Well, the girl says she wants to go home but of course she must be allowed to go on living in the foster home. [Said in court by the girl's lawyer, who had been appointed by the authorities, completely against the girl's own wishes, to represent the girl's interests. Such lawyers regularly 'represent' the private client(s) but say what the CPS wants to hear.]

The mother suffers from depression so one baby is enough for her to cope with. [The mother had twins and the CPS took one.]

The mother has a bad back. She cannot take care of more than one child. [The CPS took the other child.]

The mother is physically handicapped and does not have the full use of her legs. Therefore she cannot play with the children in the sand-lot or go skiing with them in winter.

The mother is a person who abuses medication. [The medication was prescribed by a doctor for a purely physical illness.]

The parents want to keep the child with them and do not want it to be placed in a foster home. This proves that they cannot cooperate with the CPS in the best interest of the child.

The father has a negative attitude to the CPS.

The parents will not let the psychologist film them at home to show them how poor their interaction with the child is. [Such filming is often called 'Marte Meo method'. There is, however, no particular method for selecting situations to be filmed, nor for analysing what has been filmed or what is 'wrong'. One is reminded of German Nazis, who used to film the helpless victims of their medical experiments.]

The CPS offered the mother a 'home milieu therapist' to visit the home. The mother would not receive this helper, she said she did not understand what the therapist was supposed to do. Therefore, the CPS has not been able to uncover the degree of neglect the children are living under. [As clear a disclosure as any of the CPS's real purpose of sending someone into the home.]

The parents have complained that their son is bullied at school and that the school authorities do nothing to stop it. This points to the parents not being able to cooperate with the school.

The parents have publicised their case in the media in order to get their daughter home from CPS care. This is so sensitive for the daughter that she would not be able to function in the local community outside their own house. [On the contrary: The local community was in reality solidly on the family's side. After the girl had fled the foster home and absolutely resisted being carted back to the foster home once more, she of course functioned very well back in her parents' home in company with her friends, at school and in the local community generally.]

The daughter does not like fish-balls. This is a clear sign of incest.

The child eats so fast that it must have been exposed to incest. [Reported by the personnel in a kindergarten, who are trained - like CPS workers are - in looking for 'signs' of abuse or neglect.]

The child eats so slowly and unwillingly that it must have been the victim of incest.

(34)  Alcohol is consumed in the home. [The children's grandfather had been having a beer while he watched a football match on tv. When such a completely normal situation in very many Norwegian homes is mentioned in the CPS report, it at once insinuates that the alcohol habits in the home were beyond the acceptable.]

The child is selective as regards whom she will play with in the kindergarten. She plays with little stones a lot. [Given by the kindergarten as one of the reasons for reporting the parents to the CPS. The girl was 6 years old. All her playmates had been slightly older and had left the kindergarten and gone to school. Not unnaturally, she was bored by being with only younger children. The CPS were alerted by the kindergarten about this 'cause for worry'.]

The child's linguistic development is delayed, due to insufficient stimulation from its parents. [Children vary up to several years in how their language develops. No particular stimulation is needed, however, the development up to full competence is biologically driven and takes care of itself, unless everybody in the child's environment is a hundred per cent quiet.]

The mother puts her own needs before those of her daughters. [Stated by a CPS psychologist in court to be a general characteristic of the mother's behaviour. Asked to specify at least one instance of this, the psychologist thought for several minutes and finally said that the mother had taken a quarter of an hour out of a visitation with her daughters to go away from the daughters and smoke a cigarette outside. – The visit in fact lasted for a whole day. Both mother and daughters longed to be reunited and the girls longed for home. The mother was at one point on the edge of crying because she was not allowed to let them go home with her. She did not want the girls to see her in tears, out of fear that the CPS would, if she cried, accuse her of 'exposing them to emotional outbursts', which she knew from experience that the CPS would do. Going outside to smoke helped her master her emotions. She went outside also because she did not want to smoke indoors or expose her daughters to smoking. – The daughters were actually not upset to be alone for 15 minutes, since they knew their mother was just outside and they knew about not smoking indoors.]

The parents have tried to make the County Governor and politicians take up their case in order to get their daughter home from foster care. They thereby prove that they are not able to give care.

Take their passports away from them! [Suggested by the head of a CPS unit wanting to stop parents whom the CPS wanted to 'investigate', from going abroad. She evidently wanted the Norwegian police to carry out these confiscations on behalf of the Norwegian state, but still intended not only Norwegians passports to be taken but also those of foreigners in Norway holding passports issued by their countries.]
The mother will not give us insight into her private life, which indicates that she has something to hide. [CPS workers are always looking for something – anything – to use against parents. If a parent is open about private matters, any problem they may have or have had sometime in their life, however normal, is sure to be used against them in the case documents and in court. If the parents choose to say 'My purely personal affairs are nothing to do with the CPS', that is, as in this case, also used by the CPS.]

The boy's parents fail in their care for him; they do not give him enough to eat. [The mother of one of the boy's friends noticed that he ate a great deal of cake when he visited her son in their home, and she reported this to the CPS as a cause for worry.]

The parents do not want our therapy. They say they are depressed after their child has been transferred to the care of the CPS but they refuse to receive therapy which would make them understand that they must put their own wants behind what is best for the child.

You must write quite differently if we are to win through getting the child transferred to public care. [Said by an instructor to a class of general social workers whom he was teaching about child protection. They had as an exercise been asked to read through the documents in a case and write a report summarising the information as a preliminary to further case procedure. They had written a realistic report, mentioning and assessing good as well as bad in the family's situation.]

On one occasion the child found a piece of paper and started nibbling at it. The mother did not discover this. [Claimed by a social worker in her report of an inspection she made in the home. The mother objected that she had in fact discovered it and taken the paper away. Since she had no video-recording of the inspection visit, the social office would not accept her information, stating that she could not prove it.]

The mother suffers from a deep ambivalence regarding entering into inter-personal relationships. [Stated by the CPS in a would-be 'evaluation' of her ability to 'form a relationship' to her child as well as to other people. The mother's partner said that he had never noticed any such ambivalence.]

Because of her good intellectual functioning and verbal skills we are of the opinion that the mother has been judged to function better than she really does.

The mother wants to stay in bed in the morning. [The baby usually woke up at about 6.30 - 7 in the morning. The mother would then get up and change and breast-feed it. The baby used to go to sleep again at about 10 a.m. The mother, who by then was tired, wanted to rest while the baby slept. She was denied this by the personnel at the institution for mother-and-child, run by the CPS, where she was living.]

The CPS is worried about children growing up with parents with psychiatric conditions. [The CPS makes no attempt to differentiate between conditions that do not harm the relationship parent-child and those that do. 'Psychiatric conditions' here includes everything from heavy psychoses to light, temporary feelings of depression or dejectedness or worry over practical problems. By some psychologists/psychiatrists about 800,000 Norwegians are estimated to be subject to such conditions.]

Parents will never be able to fill the parental role if they for example tell their child coming home from school: "Tomorrow we are going to move." [Stated by a social worker in a newspaper article arguing for the CPS as superior caretakers of children. – The CPS is actually even more abrupt than such condemned parents: They fetch children out of the classroom saying "You are being moved away from your family now."]
No, it's you who are mad. [Said by a CPS worker to a very alarmed mother who said of her son: "Oh, but he is ill!" The boy had been taken by the CPS, and when his mother was after many months allowed to see him, he had lost almost 10 kilos. He was about 12 years old.]

The boy is thirsty and drinks a lot. This is his mother's fault. She has given him bad food-habits at home. [Said by the foster parents (of the same boy as in (50) above). The boy finally had to be taken to hospital and was at last diagnosed with diabetes. His mother was chased away from the hospital when she wanted to visit him there. The boy was even after this neglect shown by the CPS and the fosterparents not allowed to go home but was sent back to the foster home. He tried to commit suicide there by injecting himself with an overdose of insulin. When telling the foster father what he had done, the foster father was irritated and sent him to the hospital alone in a taxi.]

The mother has been in CPS care herself. [One would think that the CPS, who maintain that their 'care' is unquestionably good and always saves children, would count it an asset that a mother had been in public care. But no, even persons who have been in their care for 10 years or more in their childhood, are regarded with suspicion when they become parents. Suddenly the CPS 'care' they have been given is not trusted to have benefited them after all. Any failing on their part is labelled 'failure to give care' and attributed to their own parents having 'failed' them and passed on this defect as 'social inheritance'. The contradictory nature of CPS actions revealed by this argumentation is never admitted by the CPS, the courts or bureaucrats and politicians supporting the CPS.]

When the child fell over, the mother just picked her up and put her back on her feet, without comforting her verbally. [The little girl had not cried and was not unhappy. She was just beginning to walk and often fell over without hurting herself.]

The parents have a very small network. [Used in very many cases, to insinuate that neither are the parents surrounded by a lot of relatives and friends who can give help, nor are they likeable persons who give their children a good social setting.]

The fact that the mother, at the age of 38, moves back to live in her widowed mother's house, is not likely to convince us that she is able to take care of her son as a responsible adult should. [Stated in a writ to the court by the municipality which had taken her son. The municipality/CPS were confronted in court with the fact that they had in this way tried to ridicule the mother over having chosen living arrangements which are extremely common in communities all over the world. She was a single mother, and had moved from Oslo, where there was no longer any reason for her to live as far as work or the presence of friends were concerned. She had moved back to her childhood community both for sensible financial reasons and to be close to her relatives and some friends. (The presence of a network is, in other words, here not at all counted as positive, cf (54) above.) She at first lived in her mother's house with her child, who was returned to her by the court, and was later able to build her own house in the neighbourhood.]

If the boy is not kept under firm CPS authority until adult age, but is allowed to go home to his mother, he will likely develop into a dangerous criminal. [Stated in a letter written to the court by a psychologist the CPS wanted to use against the boy in court, even after they had been stopped from using that psychologist in the court case in which the boy and his mother tried to free him from the CPS. The boy had been taken from his parents when he was five, on the basis of a wrongful incest accusation. The parents had long ago been found innocent and received compensation in court. Still the boy was kept away from his family by force by the CPS, in foster home and institution life, both of which had made him desperately unhappy, for more than 10 years in all. – It is actually statistically quite on the cards that children who have been 'treated' by the CPS will go into crime, and the prison-like conditions under CPS is even found by many to be worse than ordinary prison. But the CPS completely fails to face the realities of cause and effect.]

(57)  There is hardly anything in the way of children's clothes and toys for the boy in the flat. [The mother's response to this accusation in a CPS report was to laugh, open cupboards and drawers and show them that her son had plenty of toys and clothes. The next version from the CPS was then to claim that the mother was unnaturally concerned about clothing and toys.]

We cannot know what kind of life the children have with their parents. [Reason given by a municipality board as justification for letting the CPS take the children from a family and refusing to let them return home, in spite of copious evidence given before the board of a very good home life. After being taken the children had guards every minute at school to stop them from escaping, and were not even allowed to close the door when they had to go to the lavatory at school. Both parents had professions at which they worked in their home, and wanted to home-school the children, but the children had had plenty of other interaction with other children in the area.]

Some pairs of children's skis were lying on the ground instead of being placed in strict order up against the wall. This shows the family to lack in order and structure. [Used as an argument in a report from a 'home visit' by the CPS.]

The mother says no to letting her fourteen year old daughter go to a party. [Pointed out by a school psychologist in a report to the CPS, as an argument against the mother's care. The girl wanted to go to a large rowdy do. The mother had said "No, you are not to go to that booze-up and stay out all night." The girl then complained to the psychologist. He advised her to ask her mother again, and furnished her with arguments to use against her mother's refusal. The answer was still no. The psychologist then wrote a report in which he claimed that this mother had difficulties establishing clear limits for the daughter.]

(61)  The mother's own parents died early. That will make it difficult for her to be a good mother herself. [An example of a typical, primitive environmental-deterministic view found among CPS social workers and their psychologists, who hold that people have no ability to manage their lives in a positive, self-reliant way.]

No! Nobody is able to work their way out of their problems themselves. They just get heavier and heavier until one breaks down.  [Stated by a head of the CPS in a court case against the CPS for damages caused to a mother whom the CPS had harassed with 'investigations' when she was in a temporarily difficult situation for which she had sought advice. - The same general view as in (61).]
(63)  The mother is clumsy when using the tin-opener. [Statement by a psychologist.]

The father seems stressed when the CPS workers are present. [Hardly to wonder at. The opposite would have been more abnormal, considering how the CPS proceed and the powers they have.]

The mother does not stimulate the child verbally in the food-situation.

A 12 year old son and his mother eat when they are hungry and not at a fixed time every day. [The CPS were not interested in the fact they had a very healthy diet.]

The parents do not notice the child and the child's needs. [Cf (68).]

The parents are too concerned with the child and over-protect it. [Cf (67).]

(69)  But you have siblings in the foster home, haven't you? [Argument suggesting that the foster home was a better place than the home of the parents, because there were also other foster children in the foster home. The argument came from a member of a county committee (an administrative unit which makes first decisions in cases regarding forced removal of children from their parents or their return home). The case was one in which the parents and the daughter wanted to be reunited and the girl had fled the foster home. To the argument about 'siblings', the girl answered, with contempt: "There were some people living there. They are not my siblings."]

(70)  The boy shows strong reactions during the process of being returned from the foster parents to the parents. The child protection service has the theory that this is due to his having been traumatised by his mother breast-feeding him for the first two months of his life, and that he was re-traumatised at the returning process. [Argument used by the the child protection service of Haugesund as a reason why they refused to obey a judgment from the Supreme Court which decided that the boy should be returned to his family.]

They have moved a lot. [This mother had moved, with her child, 3-4 times. The last time was when she moved from a flat in the basement to a flat some stories up in the same apartment building, because it was a nicer flat with more sun. – Moving is in some instances a result of poor economy and being unemployed. To consider moving negatively has long roots in Norwegian 'culture': a nomadic way of life is looked down on as suspicious. The worst manifestation of such views has been the persecution of the 'Taters' (a gipsy-type population group in Scandinavia), who have been regularly hunted down and the children abducted, sterilisation also used. The opinion of moving is standardised in the CPS idea of 'vagabonding' and is considered a factor in 'care failure'. The 'care' of children in the CPS's hands often leads to considerably more moves (up to 10-12), from temporary foster home to 'permanent' foster home and on to other foster homes and institutions, again and again, without, however, this being considered care failure carried out by the CPS. When parents move with their children, the children at least have the parents stably with them all the time. When the CPS moves them, they have nobody permanent.]

There really must be something about you which we don't know about, something which makes you a bad mother. [All previous reports and opinions in the case had shown this to be a good mother. But the CPS 'considered' her to be a bad one, and this was the argument they held to support their opinion. They had no other arguments.]

The mother is extremely changeable in her contact with her daughter, either very intense or passive.

A is a smiling baby. [From case document.] A is a silent and rigid baby. [Somewhere else in the same document.]

The parents are not capable of cooperating with the school. That is care failure on the part of the parents. [Their child was especially interested in mathematics, was ahead of his class in the textbook, and wrote more advanced problems and their solutions into his workbook. His teacher did not like it, told him off, and repeatedly erased the advanced problems from his workbook. The parents objected to this and asked that some suitable guidance in mathematics to stimulate the boy's interest be given to him, citing the law, which states that every child has a right to teaching adapted to the child's abilities and level of knowledge and understanding. The school did not want to give the boy any such help, and instead reported the parents to the CPS, claiming that parents who demand something from the school and disagree with them, are deficient in their child care. The CPS, and the superior authority of both the CPS and the school: the municipality, agreed with the school and would not back down. The CPS, protected by the municipal authorities, initiated an investigation of the parents' mental health. At one stage their accusation was added to: from being a charge against the parents' attitude to the school it was strengthened by a charge (with no evidence) that the boy showed long-lasting, severely aberrant behaviour, supposedly a reflection of the parents' enmity to society. A case exhausting to the family dragged on for several years, even though the realities of it had been described in newspapers and everybody in the community knew it.]