Norway’s Barnevernet: They took our four children… then the baby

BBC News 14 April 2016
Family First Comment: Interesting.
“The case of a young couple in Norway whose five children were taken away by the state has fuelled mounting concern within the country and abroad over its child protection practices. Protesters around the world – and leading Norwegian professionals – say social workers are often too quick to separate children from their families, with too little justification, particularly when parents are immigrants.”

The campaign in support of the couple has been particularly well-supported in Marius’s home country, Romania, and by Evangelical Christians worldwide, because the couple are Pentecostals.

Many protesters believe they are victims of discrimination on religious and national grounds.

There have also been other high-profile campaigns on behalf of immigrant families whose children have been forcibly taken into care in Norway, making the same claim.

One case involving a Czech family in Norway has led to a major diplomatic row between Norway and the Czech Republic. Czech President Milos Zeman accused Norwegian social workers of acting like Nazis – an allegation the Ministry for Children has described as absurd and unworthy of comment.

But campaigners have also highlighted controversial cases where they say wholly Norwegian families have had children taken into care without adequate justification or attempt to find alternative solutions.

In an open letter of protest to the Children’s Minister, 170 leading Norwegian professionals involved in child protection – lawyers, psychologists, social work experts – say Barnevernet is a “dysfunctional organisation which makes far-reaching errors of judgment with serious consequences”.

Psychologist Einar Salvesen, one of the initiators of the letter, says: “There is a lack of what I’d call the human factor. A lack of empathy, really providing an atmosphere so people can learn… It’s more like police interventions, more like we have to find out what’s wrong with you.”

Norway has long been proud of the resources it devotes to protecting children.

In 1981 it was the first country in the world to appoint a children’s ombudsman – an independent official responsible for protecting children’s rights. The idea has since been copied across Europe and beyond.

The child protection service, Barnevernet, stresses that in the vast majority of cases when it thinks something’s going wrong in a family, it doesn’t take the children away. It works with parents to solve the problems and keep the family together.

But the number of children and young people taken into care rose by half from 2008 to 2013. That was partly in reaction to nationwide shock in 2005 over the killing of an eight-year-old boy, Kristoffer, who was beaten to death by his stepfather.

Most cases now don’t involve parental violence, though, or alcohol- or drug-abuse. The commonest reason for a care order now is simply “lack of parenting skills”.
READ MORE: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36026458
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