16 December 2018 

The politicians must run the child protection service Barnevernet 

By Marianne Haslev Skånland 

A slightly shorter, Norwegian version of this article, with the title 'Politikerne må styre barnevernet', was published on 6 December 2018
in the local newspaper Tysvær Bygdeblad.

Tysvær is a municipality on the west coast of Norway. Both in Tysvær and in neighbouring municipalities, the local child protection offices (CPS) – known as 'Barnevernet' in Norwegian – have handled some child protection cases in ways which have created worry and protests among people, and there have been a number of articles in the local paper in Tysvær and in that of the neighbouring town Haugesund. 

Tysvær Bygdeblad has published interesting articles about the difficulties concerning the local Barnevernet. It is certainly good to see that people are alarmed about the conduct of Barnevernet, and that the most alert have not let themselves be lulled to sleep. One must hope that consternation also leads to lasting change, because the upsetting cases in Tysvær are not accidental mishaps in a welfare system which generally functions well. On the contrary, the situation is very bad in most municipalities.

The 'child protection' taught in the colleges and universities in Norway is wrong from the bottom up. Central beliefs taught: that being taken into care is good for children and that parents are essentially their children's most dangerous enemies. On such a basis, people cannot afford to let themselves be reassured by what Barnevernet's employees assert: that they only contemplate taking children away from their families in very extreme cases.

The above-mentioned beliefs feed on a faulty ideology, which in turn stems from a speculative clinical psychology spreading fairly rapidly through many countries. So realistic child protection is in jeopardy in other countries than Norway as well, but that is no excuse for not doing anything about the derailed 'welfare' system here.

As long as the present education is not brought to a stop and an entirely new kind of teaching is started, the official declaration of 'expert competence' awarded to those educated in child protection is void of factual, realistic content, and ever new cases will be started on the basis of the same way of thinking. There are many examples of such quackery, which keeps cropping up in different varieties; I will only mention the most popular one at present: attachment theory. It probably sounds like impressive expertise, but isn't.

The politicians elected to govern a municipality must therefore see to it that every detail of every single child protection case is made known to them
before Barnevernet gets to harass the family. A family has the right to receive all documents in their case, so go to the family! If they agree that open publicising of the case is best, then that should be the politicians' policy. This is also what is best for the children: it is usually of the utmost importance for them to have the security of knowing that their parents are fighting for them.

Those responsible for the running of the municipality – the elected politicians – must take back the power they have been elected to take care of, but which has been delegated to the head municipal administrator, his subordinates the child protection workers, and the municipality's lawyers. All these to whom responsibility has been delegated tend to assert ever so often that everything is in the best of order. It is not in order, however, even if all formal rules about reports and decisions and deadlines have been complied with.

It is the
content of most of what Barnevernet does and says that has to be removed, the content of what they claim about children and parents being like this and that, about the diagnosis for it being to demolish the family, about children being in need of the help which Barnevernet decides and that which Barnevernet forces on families really being of help.

The politicians will have to steer the boat; it is their responsibility to stop the abuse. It may seem alarming in Tysvær if the 'emergency' confiscations of children in the municipality are many more than the national average. But not even this is the central question. It is not acceptable to say that 'the miscarriages of justice and humanity in our municipality have been brought down to just average'.

Study statistics which reveal the life of people who have grown up under the care of Barnevernet! They are appalling, more than frightening enough, for all who do not close their eyes and ears tight, to understand that something is terribly wrong.


Articles touching on some of the same points:

Nils Morten Udgaard:
Norway and 'civil society'

familien-er-samlet (the-family-is-together):
5 years as refugees
County boards with quality at an all-time low

Olav Sylte:
After 12 months: 12 new serious miscarriages of justice

Øistein Schjønsby:
Should we feel sorry for the CPS employees?

Suranya Aiyar:
Understanding and Responding to Child Confiscation by Social Service Agencies

Marianne Haslev Skånland:
Political program for child protection in local administration
The attitude of social professions involved in the child protection sector
The Norwegian child protection agency Barnevernet's use of duress and force against children
Barnevernet – what must happen now?