19 January 2017


Prison and foster home – this is what the system is like

By Marianne Haslev Skånland

Translations of titles and quotes from Norwegian articles are by MHS.

We have here an article with the information that a man has been sentenced to 8 months in prison for violence in his child-raising. We also read that the children have been placed in foster homes, which means they are not allowed to live with their mother either. The article says nothing about the future, but based on experience it must be considered unlikely that the children will ever be allowed to come home to either parent.

Dømt til åtte måneders fengsel for vold mot barna
(Sentenced to eight months' prison for violence to the children)
Adresseavisen, 26 December 2015

"Ifølge dommen har mannen slått og/eller dasket barna på rompa og andre steder på kroppen, tatt hardt i dem og kløpet dem i ørene og andre steder på kroppen."
(According to the judgment, the man has beaten and/or spanked the children on their bottom and on other parts of their body, has grabbed them hard and pinched their ears and other body parts.)


It is important for all parents in Norway to be aware of what Norway is like. In the above case, the parents have disagreed over the upbringing of the children and this has caused a lot of "loud quarreling and disagreement". In addition, the father has beaten / spanked the children.

Foreigners in Norway, in particular, should be awake to such facts, if they come from countries where parents are the ones to hold authority and power over the children. In Norway parents have no power or right to decide in opposition to what the state dictates through the child protection authority (CPS) called Barnevernet, and through the criminal law system.

When it comes to physical punishment of children, there is, in other words, no question of any discussion one can have with the police, with Barnevernet or the courts, no matter for negotiation or philosophising about how one thinks Norway
ought to be or how child raising ought to be. The issue in concrete cases concerns how reality actually is, under the current law and practice. It is important to take this reality seriously, in fact not primarily because one risks a prison sentence if one does not, rather because one risks the children being robbed of both their parents and all their extended family, for a long time or forever.

Discussions regarding how Norway and Norwegian law ought to be are important. But such discussions lead nowhere in concrete cases in which parents stand accused of having treated their children violently; discussions then are a waste of time. The law is clear, and so is its interpretation. Especially many foreigners do not take in properly what law and practice are actually like, they believe one can discuss in each case what the law could possibly be like or how it ought to be interpreted.


Another couple of cases:

Familiefar dømt for å ha dasket barna sine
(Family father found guilty of having slapped his children)
Uten forvarsel fikk grimstadmannen politiet på døra, anmeldt for å ha dasket og kløpet barna sine. Nå er han dømt til 30 dagers betinget fengsel.
(With no forewarning the man from Grimstad had the police at his door. He had been reported to have slapped and pinched his children. He has now been given a suspended sentence of 30 days.)
NRK Sørlandet, 4 November 2015

"Det var i november i fjor at 38-åringen ble pågrepet i hjemmet sitt og satt på glattcelle, mistenkt for hardhendte leggerutiner for sine tre barn på fem, seks og ni år.
    Mannen var tiltalt for å ha dasket de to yngste barna på fingrene.
    Han var også tiltalt for å ha dasket barna på kinnet, kløpet dem i låret og for å ha tatt gripetak rundt munn og kjeve."

(It was in November of last year that the 38-year-old was apprehended in his home and placed in a security cell, suspected of tough routines for putting to bed his three children of five, six and nine years old.
   The man was charged with having slapped the two younger on their fingers.
   He was also charged with having slapped the children on their cheeks, pinched them on their thighs, and having grabbed them hard around mouth and jaw.)

Derfor fikk mannen bare bot for å ha slått og sparket sønnen (5)
(This is why the man was only fined for having hit and kicked his son (5) )
Altaposten, 3 September 2014

"– Det er ikke mange år siden det å gi et dask i oppdragende henseende ikke var ulovlig. Det virker kanskje hardere på ordlyden i dommen enn det faktisk var. Hadde gutten hatt merker og skader hadde det vært noe helt annet. Grensen er lav for å få fengsel for legemsfornærmelse, spesielt når volden er utøvet mot barn, sier Darell.
    Etter det Altaposten erfarer bor gutten i dag i fosterhjem."

( – Only a few years ago, handing out a slap as a means of correction of children was not illegal. The wording of the judgment may seem more harsh than it really was. If the boy had had bruises and injuries, it would have been a different matter. The threshold is low for being sentenced to prison for assault, especially when the violence has been committed against children, says Darell.
   From what Altaposten hears, the boy lives in a foster home today.)

One should take the last sentence seriously!

A fairly common, popular opinion is that parents should have the right to decide for themselves how their children are to be brought up, including whether physical punishment is to be used or not, and with no right for the state to interfere. In Norway, however,
foster parents are the ones to be almost immune to sanctions and punishment from the authorities (in addition to being immune against alert suspicions on the part of Barnevernet), cf the last paragraph "The situation today" here:
Foster care – which Sweden wanted for Malaysian children
21 February 2014

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