7 January 2019

Jan Simonsen:

Prime Minister Erna Solberg's whitewashing
of the CPS Barnevernet

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The article has also been published in Norwegian, on this website and on the website of the party Demokratene i Norge.
English translation, including translations of statements from the Prime Minister, are by Marianne Haslev Skånland.
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The Norwegian child protection agency Barnevernet has met with massive international criticism, from the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, politicians in several countries, and thousands of ordinary citizens demonstrating in cities all over the world. A Norwegian mother has even obtained political asylum or protection in Poland because Barnevernet wanted to take her child – with no other argument than her 'lacking in ability to care', i.e. in their assessment not a capable enough mother.

In her New Year speech, our Prime Minister Erna Solberg showed that she has learnt nothing from the international criticism. She did her best to whitewash Barnevernet, parly directly, partly between the lines. Among other things she used this last strategy by talking about a successful young Norwegian chef who had grown up in a foster family. It was presented as a success story. As if there should not self-evidently be many Barnevern children who made a success of their lives.

"Many in the care of Barnevernet do not finish high school and there are many reasons why. Therefore, it is important to talk about the success stories", the Prime Minister explained to the newspaper VG.


I have heard it before. During the toughest storm against the many human rights offences of Barnevernet, the previous Minister of Children Solveig Horne arranged a conference which was to direct attention to how Barnevernet could regain people's confidence.

The solution of course lies in instructing Barnevernet's employees: they must change their attitudes and their practice, cease depriving children of their parents when the only argument is that the parents are not judged by the case worker to be competent enough – formulated as 'lacking in ability to care'. Removal of children should be restricted to cases where the children are suffering violence, grave neglect, serious substance abuse, or sexual abuse. Instead of removals beyond this, the CPS should spend money on helping families that have problems.

But that was not the solution preferred by the CPS leaders taking part in the conference. Their solution was the same as that of the Prime Minister: "We must bring out the good cases."

The criticism against Barnevernet is nothing to do with foster parents not being good enough – if that is what Erna Solberg thinks. Probably, most foster parents do what they can to have the children adapt and like it in their new environment, and most foster people are resourceful.

The problem is that many children who are torn away from their parents, miss their biological parents for years. Foster parents can do little about it. Other foster children are seriously traumatised and destroyed when they are stopped on their way home from school, are pushed into a car belonging to strangers, and placed with unknown people. Or when the CPS turns up in their home, bringing the police along, and forcing crying children away from their parents. Some are brutally pulled out of the arms of their mother.

In the worst cases, the result is that both parents and children take their own lives.
An official report from Norsk Institutt for by- og regionforskning from 2005 showed a formidable over-representation of suicides among children under the control of Barnevernet. Over a comparable period, deaths through suicide in the group under Barnevernet were 16 per 10,000, against 2 per 10,000 in the ordinary child population.

The CPS Barnevernet pushes parents over the edge and traumatises children torn from the arms of their mothers. This happens while Erna Solberg praises Barnevernet in her New Year speech.