18 August 2018


Three workers for the Barnevern system defending it

By Marianne Haslev Skånland

In an article, three central people in the cps system essentially attempt to explain away and trivialise the relevance of the case against Brøyn for Norwegian child protection generally, and thereby defend Barnevernet, in the usual way. They also try to claim that the international attention which Barnevernet has drawn has
other reasons – as if that would excuse Barnevernet even if it were so.

Vigdis Bunkholdt, psychologist,
Jona Hafdis Einarsson, leader, Norsk barnevernsamband (Norwegian cps association),
Jan Storø, associated professor, OsloMet University:
Hvorfor svarer ikke norske politikere på BBCs spørsmål om barnevernet?
(Why don't Norwegian politicians answer BBC's question(s) about Barnevernet?)
Aftenposten, 16 August 2018

Nylig sendte BBC sin andre dokumentar om norsk barnevern. Både dette og det forrige programmet tok utgangspunkt i den internasjonale oppmerksomheten barnevernet her til lands har fått de siste årene.
Denne oppmerksomheten har i stor grad vært negativ, drevet frem av grupper som ikke ønsker offentlig innblanding i familielivet. De har sett nettopp norsk barnevern som et passende sted å markere dette."
(Recently, the BBC had on its program a second documentary about Norwegian child protection. This as well as the previous programme selected as its starting point the international interest which the cps in this country has received in recent years.
    This interest has to a large degree been negative, propelled by groups who do not want public interference in family life. They have seen Norwegian child protection as exactly the kind of suitable place to emphasise this.)

No, it is not the case that groups with authoritarian attitudes to family and the power of parents have by intensive search found Norwegian Barnevernet "suitable" for making their views known. Christian groupings, especially in Romania and among Romanian-related people in other countries, have discovered information, to start with from relatives in several countries of the Bodnarius in Norway, that a child protection service they had never heard of or indeed "searched for", had treated the Bodnariu family in Naustdal horribly and destructively. They then apparently realised that they must try to stop it through as wide publicity as possible (cf
Demonstrations abroad against Norwegian child protection (CPS) – Barnevernet). Because the Bodnarius were deeply engaged in leading a Christian life, the mobilisation came first and foremost from Christian groups. But the publicity also resounded among people of all sorts of opinions in many countries, people with no particular "family view" as a motive, but just awake to abuse to fellow human beings and families going on.
    Furthermore, all sorts of issues draw interest from people who relate them to their own special "agendas". It normally does not matter much if the subject matter is a question which can stand on its own feet.
    As regards the Michaláková case in the Czech Republic, there was from the start no such Christian element at all. One of the most deeply engaged Czech politicians to make a huge contribution, Tomáš Zdechovský, is an active Catholic, and Christian groups have also taken part, but the case, and the conditions in Norwegian child protection generally, received great support from politicians and alert people of nearly every persuation (cf
Czech family seriously damaged by Norwegian child protection service (CPS)).


"Dette er et rimelig spørsmål å stille, men vi finner det bemerkelsesverdig at det gjøres en kobling mellom psykiaterens svært uheldige holdninger til barn og kvaliteten ved norsk barnevern generelt. Vi stiller spørsmål ved BBCs agenda."
(This is a reasonable question, but we find it remarkable that a connection is made between the psychiatrist's very unfortunate attitude to children and the quality of Norwegian child protection generally. We question the BBC's agenda.)

No, the BBC's "agenda" is for that matter unimportant, especially when the case has from the BBC's side been presented quite realistically as a question not about what one man has done, but about what the subsequent actions of the Norwegian establishment may show about the system of child protection. Cf the
TV-documentary, at times

Whewell (BBC):
"It was the trial of one expert. But it raises much wider questions about the whole Norwegian child protection system."

"But this is about the credibility of the system, isn't it? It's not really about one man, it's about the issue of the system that employed him."
Langfeldt: "Yeah but you could ... I mean, what do you mean by 'the system that employed him'? They shouldn't have employed him, but they didn't know. I mean ..."
   Langfeldt's reasoning here seems to twist the question away from one of a possible, deep-rooted falutiness in the whole system, and he, first and foremost, takes the focus away from the fact that our authorities have not done anything efficient now, after the court case, to investigate this right through to the bottom.

So no, it is not remarkable that Whewell from the BBC sees just what the case and our authorities' trivialising of it says about the whole child protection system. The way Norwegian authorities, in the child protection sector AND generally, have tackled (or let us say: have not tackled) the Brøyn case, is a symptom of the kind of thinking which permeates the system. The BBC's motives are not remarkable; the motives of Norwegian child protection and Norwegian authorities are, and the way they have been allowed by the population to keep on in this way for years is (cf Udgaard:
Norway and 'civil society').


The three authors of the article think the minister for children should have commented, not refused to speak with the BBC. It's not surprising that they do, since their recommendation of what to say is the same as that of Hjermann! (cf
A new BBC documentary on Norwegian child protection) :

"Statsråden kan lese innlegget til tidligere barneombud Reidar Hjermann i Dagbladet 7. august, så vet hun hva hun skal gjøre når neste anledning byr seg. For slik Hjermann skriver – så enkelt kan det gjøres."
(The Minister can read the article by former children's ombudsman Reidar Hjermann in Dagbladet 7 August, then she will know what to do when the next opportunity presents itself. Because the way Hjerman writes – that is how simply it can be done.)

Can it? Is everybody abroad so gullible that they swallow such hot-air?

On the other hand, I agree with them on this:

"Vi våger påstanden at nærmest ethvert annet saksområde som hadde blitt utsatt for en kritisk dokumentar i BBC i beste sendetid en lørdag kveld, ville utløst en rask reaksjon fra det offentlige Norge. Departementet kan ikke skjule seg bak «vi kommenterer ikke enkeltsaker»."
(We dare to assert that if a critical documentary had appeared on the BBC in prime time on a Saturday night in almost any other sphere, it would have elicited quick reaction from Official Norway. The Ministry cannot hide behind "We do not comment on individual cases.")

The question is, though, whether Norwegian authorities have anything relevant to say, so long as they will not admit that the total attitude and view of children and their protection reigning in political circles has for years been on a slippery slope down into a black hole: Barnevernet, with just such an ideology as displayed by these three writers.


If Barnevernet were not such a tragedy, these bouts of fencing would have been a very entertaining comedy. They contain such obvious nonsense.