Norway’s Orwellian system of child protection and care

Tomáš Zdechovský
Photo by The Sunday Guardian

Written by Tomáš Zdechovský, a Member of the European Parliament

If I have to talk about Norway’s child protection services, Barnevernet, I admit that I have exchanged my favourite quote: “Believe in victory, and victory will believe in you” for a different one: “A blind person is not the one who cannot see, but the one who does not want to see.”

The case foremost in my mind is of a Czech mother Eva Michalakova, whose two sons were taken by Barnevernet. This was the first case of the state-sponsored snatching of children in which I got involved. Before this I was mostly fighting for the rights of fathers for access to their children after divorce. These fathers had been unfairly deprived of a full relationship with their children, but the case of Eva was far worse. Her boys had been taken on allegations of child abuse that were proven to be false and yet the children had not been returned. Even three years after the allegations were found to be false, Barnevernet refused to return the children.

The unfortunate brothers are till today being brought up separately in two different foster families. Barnevernet claims they are allowed to see each other once a month for a short time. Initially Eva was permitted to see them individually for two hours twice a year. Such visits that took place were under strict supervision and very harsh rules; no physical contact was allowed and use of the boys’ mother tongue—Czech—was prohibited. If she reminded the boys of their nice moments together in the past, the visitation would be immediately terminated.

Later even this meager visitation was cancelled on the ground that the mother had “harmed” the children by going public with the story of their removal. The boys’ grandfather was deprived, even on his deathbed, of the chance to speak to them once before dying. He was not even permitted to contact them via Skype on the grounds that he had shared one of the boys’ illustrations on Facebook, which was said to be “uncomfortable” for the boy. It turned out that even this silly claim was false, as in reality the grandfather had no Facebook account. And there was also no way for him to get an illustration.

This article is published in collaboration with, lawyer Suranya Aiyar’s website critiquing the role of governments and NGOs in child-related policy.

I will eventually link to each article in this outstanding series of articles. I am very appreciative of Suranya Aiyar’s efforts. She has not only made a big difference in her home country of India by making her fellow countrymen aware of these evils, she has been an advocate for children all over the world.


6 Responses to Norway’s Orwellian system of child protection and care

  1. Dear Chris,
    It would not be useful for us who write here to praise each other all the time, but I would nevertheless like to quote a little bit, worthy of some praise, I think, from the comment I see you have posted under Zdechovsky’s article in Sunday Guardian:

    “My interest originated because I thought that the Christianity of the Bodnariu family might have something to do with how they were “selected” for “care.” Since then, I have found that this is not necessarily the case as people from all religions and all walks of life have had their children stolen by the Barnevernet.”

    I have learnt to appreciate the way you seem to treat questions slowly, thoroughly, not to draw superficial conclusions too fast. I believe it is very important, if we are to do some good, to go into matters in such a way that we can write things like this: “I have found that this is not necessarily the case …..” and “Here, in the U.S.A, we are not immune to these same situations. All nations must be on guard against these systemic failures which seem to have an evil agenda at times.”

    In the Bodnariu case, certainly part of the accusation was that the children were subject to Christian influence from the parents of a kind which was extreme, and implicitly unhealthy, dictatorial, frightening, bad upbringing, abusive, … what have you. But it really is important to realise that Barnevernet makes use of whatever they like, if it helps them get hold of children. Since many people have begun to understand that Barnevernet can make trouble for families and straight-jacket them, people who resent or hate a family sometimes hit on the idea of reporting them to Barnevernet just to do them harm. In other words, they use Barnevernet as a tool, and that suits Barnevernet down to the ground.

    So, all in all it doesn’t matter what the accusation is, whether it is true or false, serious or just a detail; Barnevernet – the Child Protective Service – is always potentially dangerous and often so harmful. The power they have been given through unfortunate legislation, in lots of countries, combined with their psychological theories of what children need, are a tragedy.

    I just found an article from Britain, which I found very sensible of this. It has been written by a Catholic, Chris! But I think you will nevertheless nod your head at much of what he says. Actually he exhoes some of your comment, I think. Title and content come close to Zdechovsky’s article too; I actually had to go back and forth between them a couple of times in order to be sure that it was not the same article:

    Ed Condon:
    “Governments and Courts are turning parenting into an Orwellian nightmare”
    Catholic Herald, UK, 12 April 2018

    • By the way, Condon mentions the Scottish “named person scheme”. There was an article about that in the series “Global Child Rights and Wrongs”:

      June Conway:
      “Some ethical objections to the ‘Named Person Scheme’ ”
      14 October 2017

      • Chris says:

        I’m glad you pointed this out, Marianne. I missed that particular Sunday Guardian Live article and will now go back and read it. It is hard to imagine such a thing but our world seems to be less friendly to the parent and child relationship with each new day. I’m hoping that people will wake up and make the necessary changes before any further destruction is done.

        Ouch! I’ve just finished reading the article.

        “It is the Named Person who decides how well the child is progressing and whether or not parenting is a success. It can be seen that within this scheme parents are under constant scrutiny and have no right to a private life.”

        I appreciate the article by June Conway who is recognized as “a retired medical secretary from Scotland,”

        I agree with those who have questioned: “What … happened to the freedom loving Scots?”

        “The truth is that the Named Person Scheme was developed in committee rooms under the radar of the Scottish population and with hardly any mainstream media attention at all.”

        This kind of thing seems to be happening in so many different ways these days.

        It is interesting that the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United Kingdom, understood the dangers of this proposed legislation and halted it in its tracks (for the time being). I wonder why the Social Services of the U.K. seems to be causing unnecessary intrusion in family life when the country seems to have a child-friendly high court? I’ve heard there are systemic problems in the U.K. that are not unlike the ones in Norway.

    • Chris says:

      “…are we braced to weather the storm?”

      – Ed Condon, canon lawyer and contributing editor of the Catholic Herald

      As a canon lawyer, I’m sure that Mr. Condon and I would have important differences in theology. However, I agree with every word of this well written piece you have referred me to, Marianne.

      I have found that many Catholics are battling at the forefront on many of the important social issues of our day. I know there are several posts on this blog which point out important differences that I have with Catholics. I feel it is important that I let my position be known as our differences include essentials in the faith. At the same time, credit must be given where it is due. I must add that, if one looks at the totality of blog posts here, I am much more critical of my own “kind” (protestants) who are following false prophets and strange doctrines. I know that topic much better than the Catholic one so I generally leave the issue to former Catholics who have become Protestants. My favorite preacher from the past, Charles Spurgeon, was very critical of “popish” things and I think rightly so on theological grounds.

      Theology aside, I appreciate good and true writing. I wish I was the wordsmith Mr. Condon is. He has summarized the situation very well. His statement:

      “The Orwellian nightmare we are heading into seems increasingly unavoidable” is something I would like to wish away. But, I have to agree with him for the reasons stated in his article. Just today I read a letter from a school administrator (a Ph.D of course) regarding what children are required to attend and not attend regarding sex education in California.

      “The breakneck speed with which the gender agenda has gone from internet joke to policy priority is dizzying. But it has been substantially enabled by decades of erosion of the family in law and society, the sum total of which has been the rejection of the basic function of a parent – to form the child.”

      Mr. Condon is distressingly correct and his other comments regarding the assault and breakdown of the family are being witnessed by anyone who has “eyes to see and ears to hear.” (Matt. 13)

      I have come to see what you see, Marianne:

      “it really is important to realize that Barnevernet makes use of whatever they like, if it helps them get hold of children.”


      “The power they have been given through unfortunate legislation, in lots of countries, combined with their psychological theories of what children need, are a tragedy.”

      I can’t help thinking of these Bible verses from Matthew 24:

      10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”

      Jesus is describing a time of tribulation on the earth in Matthew 24. I wonder how far we are from those days? We are told in the same chapter:

      36 “But of that day and hour no one knows,..”


      42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”

      For a Christian, balancing these last two admonitions is quite challenging.

      Thank you for your words about my “chewing of the cud.” I am thinking about rewriting one of the blog posts here that has gotten quite an amount of attention. It is a post that has nothing to do with child welfare but, after rereading it again, I feel I may have been too critical in a particular matter. I have made mistakes like we all do and I have friends who have pointed them out to me and I appreciate it so much. I once posted an item about someone I didn’t know much about and two of my Christian friends let me know immediately how much of a scoundrel he was. I used the mistake to show how easy it is in our day to be misled.
      The same type of thing has happened to me on Facebook and I retracted what I stated as soon as I knew there was a problem.
      Again, I so appreciate your words. They are an encouragement to me. I try, with the ability that God has given me, to follow the truth where it leads. Getting too “heady” to correct one’s mistakes is inexcusable and I hope it is one thing that I am never guilty of.

      Thank you for your kind and educational comment.

  2. I can’t resist posting another two links, which I just found myself:

    “Senators want to see Children and Youth Services reform”

    “PA Senators Look to End Government Abuse of Families by Human Service Departments”

    Posted by Ron Shegda on Wednesday, April 11, 2018

    The articles are quite new.

    Do you know, when I read of such horrors in other countries than Norway, I have a double reaction: I am depressed and try to push away thoughts of the individuals affected by this madness, before it all immobilises me; but I also feel hopeful: When such reports come in from so many places, then it may mean that at long last their voices can no longer be ignored by all who just want to continue with ‘business as usual’.

    • Chris says:

      Thank you for these American articles about the deaths of children in CPS “care” here. They are, indeed, as sad as you portray them, Marianne.
      I have to admit that I only knew of minor problems with my local CPS (way understaffed for one thing) because of my work at a pregnancy crisis center as a client advocate.
      The Bodnariu case opened up a new and awful world to me. I had no idea this was such an issue in so many countries and I certainly didn’t know of the problems in America.
      Now, I know that there are legislators here who are working to make changes and several cases have received national attention even though there is not near enough coverage in the press. The more I learn the more I am surprised that this has gone on for so long.
      If enough voices like ours join in maybe changes will have to be made. We can pray and hope (and keep on writing).

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