27 October 2016

Marta Straume:
Child protection on Norway's main street


This comment was originally published in Norwegian in the newspaper Vårt Land on 8 June 2016, and was later published here on 10 June. The translation is likewise published here with the author Marta Straume's kind consent.

Having read journalist Trygve W. Jordheim's opinion "Barnevernskonspirasjonen" (The child protection conspiracy) in Vårt Land on 1 June, I feel a need to object. Previously, as a foster mother and a teacher in primary school and college, I used to think: "When the child protection service Barnevernet intervenes, they probably have good reason." I have experienced that that can be true, and that it can be terribly wrong. Trygve W. Jordheim is probably without such experiences.

For a long time I have been in contact with several different families in different parts of the country, in cases in which Barnevernet has misunderstood its function and has gone to the County Board to obtain transfer of custody of children to themselves. When the County Board and the courts alike place greater reliance on Barnevernet's accounts than on what witnesses who know the parents can testify to, then I have seen siblings (ethnic Norwegians) be separated into foster homes far from each other to irreparable harm for everyone.

When children and parents have been offended against by a power system holding the right to define, it is no wonder if they get together on Norway's main street Karl Johan in Oslo and scream. Many of them have been sitting alone crying in their homes for years.

Please: Do not disrespect these people even further by criticising the way they express themselves. We achieve no good by criticising those who scream.

We need a child protection agency, but not that "Barnevern" which takes cover in their trenches with their power to define what is what.