A report detailing Norwegian Child Welfare Service (Barnevernet) abuses has been published in Norway. Final Report-Investigation of Three Child Protection Cases-Samnanger Municipality, was published by local authorities on the Samnanger Municipality website. Investigators discovered incidents of maltreatment occurring there over several years. An official apology has been issued along with compensation, though the current mayor regrets that it is a very modest amount compared to the devastation to the lives of the families involved. The report is also critical of the County Governor (the state’s head representative in a Norwegian county) for not stopping Barnevernet’s actions. In 2013, he produced a report that identified no problems.
Initially the published report was freely readable and available for downloading. The municipality removed it from its site after a recommendation of confidentiality was made by the County Governor. After a meeting was held by municipality officials, those supporting the investigation results allowed for a few changes in the report and republished it back onto the municipal website. The Governor has written to the mayor of Samnanger, demanding that the report be taken off of the internet again. Apparently, he wants to launch his own investigation into the legality of the investigation and publication done by the Samnanger Municipality.
It seems that the municipality intends to try to litigate the negligent actions of certain employees. More than 20 million crowns (more than 2 million dollars by the current rate) has been paid out for “child protection” of the victim children: to psychologists, foster homes, and home visits. “Advice” was given to the parents before the children were taken and afterwards, in order to “help” the parents improve their “parental skills.”
The 71 page report is only available in the Norwegian language with the exception of the initial thirteen key points listed below:
“The investigation has revealed that the child welfare service in Samnanger in the investigated cases on a number of points have been in violation of both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Child Welfare Act and good administrative practice. This includes:
1) “Lack of writing and documentation. There is a pervasive feature in all three cases that the child welfare services’ assessments are to a scant extent documented. This is a violation of good administrative practice and represents a legal security problem for the affected children and parents.
2) “Lack of hearing of children’s views. The child welfare service is obliged to collect and consider taking into account the views of the children when when the children are old or mature enough to have an opinion. It is not likely that the children have taken part or had their views referred to and considered
3) “Lack of options reviews. The child welfare service is obliged to consider gentle alternatives when performing emergency placements. This does not appear to have been done.
4) “Lack of assistance. The Child Welfare Service is obliged to implement adequate relief measures where this is possible, rather than choosing more invasive intervention. This was not done sufficiently.
5) “Lack of reassessments when the situation has changed. The child welfare service is obliged to consider the case again if changes in the family situation have taken place which may be important. It is nowhere stated that this has been done.
6) “Failure to assess foster homes after taking children into care. The obligation first to consider foster homes in the child’s family or close network has not been complied with.
7) “Lack of justification for separating siblings. Siblings’ need and right to grow up together is not considered, and the placement of them in different foster homes is not explained or justified. None of the children in the three cases have been allowed to grow up with one or more siblings.
8) “Lack of culture-sensitive understanding and competence. There is no consideration for children’s right to know their ethnic, cultural and linguistic background.
9) “Inadequate supervision of foster homes. The obligation to follow up children in foster homes has not been complied with in accordance with the requirements of the Child Welfare Act.
10) “Lack of role understanding – confusion of roles. In Samnanger Municipality the roles as social leader and child welfare leader were combined in one position during the period the cases were being handled. These are two different functions with different tasks. In the present cases, it seems that the roles have been confused with each other, with unfortunate results for private parties.
11) “Lack of information to parents. The child welfare service has waited unnecessarily long to inform parents about child detention and emergency placement.
12) “One child has been completely deprived of her childhood through unwise public taking into care.
The child appears significantly injured after the placement.
13) “Extensive use of coercion and medication. Several of the children have been subjected to coercion, medication and disproportionate use of force.”
Dear defenders of the family in Samnanger,
To this point the infamous Barnevernet has received a good amount of its criticism from outside sources. There were the worldwide protests in 2016 that brought thousands of people into streets on six continents. Just two months ago there were unanimous convictions at the European Convention on Human Rights where Norway was found in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (My article about it is here). As Samnanger residents probably know, there are close to two dozen cases still pending at the ECtHR. I am also aware of many other Norwegian citizens who have been justly critical of your “Child Protection Services.”
I applaud the courageous leadership in Samnanger!!! Your determination encourages similar actions by Norwegians to bring justice and hope to others.
The Barnevernet has weaseled its way into your small population. I can imagine living in a town that has had the same population for the past 50 years (around 2,400). My guess is that a community of that size for that long is a place where people know one another pretty well. Something of this magnitude, in a place your size, must be having a very divisive effect. The County Governor is too late in his attempt to stifle this report. If he can remove it, it will not go away. A quote by Olav Terje Bergo is appropriate here:
“Efforts to make it disappear will be like trying to put the toothpaste back again into a hundred thousand toothpaste tubes.”
I am aware that the report has been sent to at least six different countries. As an official document of the Samnanger Municipality, it is perfectly legal to be copied and quoted.
I hear from your country that the coronavirus shutdown has created a constant drumming of pundits on TV, newspaper, and radio communicating that they are concerned about the “vulnerable” state of children today. The comments are meant to help Norwegians see that home environments are now more unsafe than ever because children are not around their protectors: school teachers, kindergarten teachers, health nurses (in the schools), psychologists, and coaches. I wonder if those responsible for removing children from loving parents have children themselves in Norway? If so, who is watching their efforts as parents?
I am also hearing that several CPS offices complain that they are receiving very few messages of “concern” now. Imagine that. They surmise that children are being treated badly and that nobody can really see what is going on inside the home. Children only have Barnevernet personnel to protect them now and the coronavirus is keeping them at a distance. At least there is one good thing about the virus!
God gifted parents with the abilities, delights, and responsibilities to raise children. Any government that thinks otherwise is foolish and sometimes evil. There are always exceptions but we all know the Barnevernet has gone beyond inhumanity in thousands of cases. There is a spiritual, natural, and moral law that states: “You reap what you have sown.” I pray for the victims and the perpetrators of crimes like the ones in Samnanger. I pray that those who have ears to hear will listen and wake up before it is too late.
Edited by Professor Marianne H. Skanland
This post on Professor Skanland’s homepage gives additional details about the Samnanger report and states:
“Those in Samnanger who have fought for truthful publicizing can find support in judgments from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) concerning freedom of expression.”
The article gives examples of ECtHR cases in Norway, Iceland, and Belgium. The ECtHR “makes it clear that not only do people have the right to impart information about important and controversial things, the public has an equal right to receive such information…it is necessary in order to have the kind of society we want to live in.”
America’s founding Fathers would have appreciated this perspective.