By Steven Bennett
Hopefully, this post can help the Norwegian government understand why no one trusts barnevernet.
A number of people in the Norwegian Government are a little concerned that Norway’s CPS, barnevernet is losing trust with its population. They are worried because they recognize that dealing with parents and children requires trust in the first place.
In fact, many families live in fear with just the mention of the name barnevernet, especially those with young children or those who are still fighting to get their children back.
This is not an exclusive list, but it might be a good start with helping in the many up and coming debates regarding barnevernet that are planned in Norway. If Norway’s CPS wants trust, it needs to deal with these issues and change its ways radically first.
Barnevernet Says = (BS)
The Reality = (TR)
1. (BS) If you divorce your husband, you will get your children back.
1. (TR) Once the divorce is through, the unity between the husband and wife is destroyed and the family has been weakened.
Barnevernet has you exactly where it wants you – powerless. The children, in the majority of cases are never given back to the single parent. Remember, a single parent is one of those who are in the target group that Barnevernet hunts down in the first place.
Anne-Kathrine Eckbo-Fangan, a former social worker said:
“Norway’s ‘Child Protective Services’ are only concerned with removing children as quickly as possible but not bringing them back again quickly. They stay with foster parents until they are 18 years old – no discussion. We had lists of mothers who we specifically targeted, single mothers, ones with children from several fathers, poor, sick unemployed parents, or families without relatives, that is uncles, aunts and grandparents.”
2. (BS) If you support the take over of your children to us voluntarily, you will get your children back.
2. (TR) Norway’s CPS often make this happen through intimidation, harassment and bullying of the parents and statistically, this looks much better for the government records and to the outside world if the parents agree. In the vast majority of cases, the parents do not get their children back. Øivind Østberg, a Barrister in Oslo said:
“No other country has a child protection agency which so frequently removes the children from parents by means of coercion. Not even close. Of the 10.1 per 1000 children placed in foster care by the CPA , in 71% of the cases this occurs without the consent of the biological parents. In Germany the corresponding figures are 9 and 10%, in Sweden 8.2 and 26 %.”
3. (BS) If you accept seeing your children only, let’s say four times a year, and accept supervision, you will have your children back soon.
3. (TR) In the majority of cases, the parents do not get their children back. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks replying to a question of Valeriu Ghilețchi (Republic of Moldova) on the issue of the Bodnariu family said:
“Taking children away from their parents is a broader issue and here the utmost caution is required because we have to think: what is the best interest of the child? The best interest of the child is almost always to be with the parents. Only in extreme and exceptional cases, where the child can come to serious harm because of the parents’ behaviour, should a child be taken away temporarily from the parents. We need to intervene to support families so that they can remain together and children can be with their families. Removing children from their parents should be done only as a last resort and for a very short period.”
4. (BS) If you never protest, get help from others or go public with your story, you might get your children back, or maybe see them more often, or not even need supervision when you visit them.
4. (TR) The parents are expected to behave nice to the carers, the foster parents, and all their oppressors, no matter what, and you guessed it, in most cases, they still don’t get their children back.
5. (BS) If you accept guidance you may get your children back.
5. (TR) This is a crazy arrangement, and only implemented with the goal of finding/inventing proof of how bad the parents are. One family had 400 hours of guidance. A woman coming every second week, from Bergen, staying in a hotel and of course she wasn’t able to teach them anything new. She wasn’t educated, just an assistant of a psychological ‘expert team’. She started off as a translator, and then in time, she became the parent supervisor, and shortly after, the children were confiscated.
6. (BS) If you want financial support to improve your education, we can help by sending someone in to help identify the family’s need.
6. (TR) When Norway’s CPS enters the home, it isn’t long before they find a basis for not supporting the parent; but instead, they find reasons why the parent is bad for neglecting their children by putting so much effort into education in the first place, or whatever it is.
7. (BS) Children do not miss their parents and have now got use to their foster parents.
7. (TR) During visitations, children often share letters with their parents which say the complete opposite. It’s also important to note, that many children are fed lies by the CPS with regards to their parents, with the aim of cutting off the attachment their have.
8. (BS) Parents refused help from us.
8. (TR) There is no help offered in many cases. Like in the Bodnariu case, for example. And what happens, when the parents do accept help? Øistein Schjønsby, a Norwegian lawyer with 30 years experience will explain:
“Barnevernet set up the monitoring of families under consideration for intervention. A family’s neighbour may be the one who reported the family (denounced them?).
The CPS gives the impression of planning to help the family – in the way they are obliged to by law – but in actual fact nothing much comes of it. Instead, the CPS takes action in the form of removing the child as an acute measure – and the outcome of the case is thereby assured.”
9. (BS) The parents don’t have a good attachment to their children.
9. (TR) In many cases, barnevernet employees have never seen the parents and children together.
10. (BS) Snatching children is the last resort and only when drug abuse and serious violence is included.
10. (TR) 100% untrue, it’s often the first resort sadly in Norway, and in many cases the children taken have never experienced any form of abuse from their parents.
Venil Katharina Thiis is a lawyer from Trondheim. She said this about Norway’s CPS, barnevernet.
“I have been working with cases involving child care for over 20 years and have seen how the legal rights of both children and parents have increasingly diminished over the years.
Barnevernet has more power than they are able to manage, so often end up abusing the authority they hold. As to this, they have developed a culture where the last solution, force, often becomes the first alternative, as opposed to forming dialogue which can lead to voluntary methods.
They also have many “locked doors” where disqualified psychologists control, both the County Board and the courts. What happens in the county boards is therefore undemocratic – it’s David’s encounter with Goliath.”
11. (BS) There is freedom of speech in Norway and parents can publish their stories in the media.
11. (TR) It’s often the case that children are fast tracked to adoption, when parents publish anything online, or the parents are threatened with never seeing their children again. It’s a bit like a revenge policy. Erik Bryn Tvedt, a lawyer from Sandefjord in Norway said this about Child Welfare in Norway:
“So, in Norway, we exclude from public debate specific issues about when it is appropriate to take children into care, separating them from their parents! Norwegian practice is contrary to Article 10 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19, 1 and 2:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or printed form, or artistic or other media of his choice. ”
12. (BS) You stigmatise the child when you publish anything about your case online.
12. (TR) The innocent child was stigmatised the day it was taken from a normal home with healthy parents. In fact, it’s OK for the CPS to run advertising campaigns, showing foster care children jumping up for joy with their new foster parents, but you can’t publish stories with your own children. This is called double standards, and Norway seems to be full of them.
13. (BS) The biological principle is always respected.
13. (TR) Only in 25% of cases are children returned to relatives. Øistein Schjønsby, a Norwegian lawyer with 30 years experience says:
“Oh no, the CPS takes the child and places it with temporary foster parents, after which they go looking for foster parents who are complete strangers to the child. Time passes, and by now there are too few who are willing to be foster parents and permanent placement therefore is long in coming.
In the meantime, the child could have been given a permanent home with its family, typically with grandparents, aunts or uncles, but the CPS is not interested in that. We are left to figure out for ourselves what it is that stops them.
Just for the record: The consideration under §4 is something one is entitled to demand. But the CPS gets around it in several ways. The CPS is not interested in the family having anything more to do with the child.
So I say, is it really any wonder that people are afraid of barnevernet, the child protection service in Norway?”
14. (BS) Children are very happy in foster homes.
14. (TR) Around 95 children in care commit suicide every year, two per week, sadly. That’s a big number for a small country of five million people.
15. (BS) The parent cares more about himself than his child, because he is still fighting to win his child back and does not let it attach to the new foster carers. They don’t respect our decision.
15. (TR) No, you took an innocent baby or child from a normal/healthy family (ca.80% of children confiscated in Norway have not been physically abused, no drugs were involved and no sexual abuse either). So, if the mother/father doesn’t fight for their children, I would really question their love for them.
16. (BS) Spend some time at the social care home for mothers with children. We can teach you how to treat your baby.
16. (TR) Unfortunately, during the stay, they just look for ‘new errors’ and a big percentage of mothers do not leave the care centre with their baby – they leave alone. In fact, the targeted mothers are given an ultimatum just after birth – you come with us now, or we take your baby.
If a mother and her child goes into a ‘home for mothers’, and she divorces her husband at the same time, it is not uncommon for that same mother to leave the home with her baby, only to be faced with a second and final snatch in the coming days. It is incredibly tormented.
Dag Sverre Aamodt, a Norwegian lawyer and former policeman said:
“The Child Welfare Act* invades the individual’s private sphere to a large degree and must in reality be considered as the greatest threat to the Norwegian population today[…]The case handling is generally characterised partly by unsubstantiated opinions and partly by blatant lies. I have often observed reports from the Child Care Services that contain allegations without any link to reality.”
17. (BS) Religion is not a reason for taking children into care.
17. (TR) Biblical Christians are a big threat to Norway’s ideological goals, so it’s no wonder they target Biblical Christians. The ‘liberal and cultural christians’ are left alone in the main, as there do not cause any threat to the system and even indirectly support HR violations in many cases.
Norway is also among the European countries with the highest number of overdose deaths according to the EU’s report on drug use in 2014. Estonia is the only country with more overdose deaths than Norway. Oslo is also known as the one-night stand capital of the world. So, it’s no wonder that Biblical Christians are targeted as they highlight this obvious chasm between teaching their children some morals and restrained behaviour compared to the new ‘moral progressive culture’ with behaviour that is unrestrained.
Muslims are also targeted. One family had their children taken because the father was classed as a radical Muslim, although there was absolutely no evidence to prove it.
In fact, Barnevernet told him he was not European enough, although he had spent 20 years in Europe. He and his wife also took a course in European studies and they both received a Diploma, but that still wasn’t enough for Norway’s CPS. There took their baby boy of nine months old and a little girl of two years old in 2013. They get to see them for two hours every three months.
18. (BS) The mother has a pathological attachment disorder.
18. (TR) The diagnosis of pathological attachment disorder has been given by individuals who are not psychiatrists. In the vast majority of the cases the diagnosis is completely false. If, in the best case scenario, those assessing the situation are actually psychologists, it has been revealed that they did not apply standardised testing nor repeated evaluation in giving a diagnosis according to all the criteria found in DSM (The Diagnosis and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorder).
This has been the case in all the cases presented so far. They would not have had the time to follow this protocol because everything was done so quickly. It has been justified that ‘this is how things are’, without any proof, and then the children are removed as an ‘emergency measure’. The way evidence is fabricated in Norway is an insult to civilised psychology, medicine, and most notably psychiatry.
19. (BS) The ‘superior interest of the child’ takes precedent over everything else.
19. (TR) The obvious intention here is to break all stable attachments formed within the biological family and recreate an attachment to a foster family. This is Barnevernet’s ‘superior interest of the child’.
Let’s take the Bodnariu children as an example. Why were the five children separated? Because, you can ‘populate’ three new families with them. Why were the older children grouped by two’s with the sibling of the closest age? Why were the parents given different visitation schedules for each set of children? Because, their attachment to the biological family is in different stages of development, based on their ages.
Eliana and Naomi already have a stable attachment, having developed from ages five and six, so they had to be completely separated from their parents, without visitation rights, presents or phone calls to begin with.
Lene Skogstrøm, a journalist in Norway said:
“A growing number of experts who come into contact with the Norwegian child welfare services, barnevernet are beginning to understand that, in many situations, the system is far from safeguarding a child’s best interests.
We see frequent examples of where the agency emerges as a dysfunctional organisation that carries out extensive miscalculations which have serious consequences.”
20. (BS) If your child needs extra help because of health challenges, such as ADHD, for example, we are here to help.
20. (TR) Sadly, not true. Gro Hillestad Thune is an attorney and expert on human rights. She said:
”We see several examples which demonstrate how Norway’s CPS, barnevernet has developed an authoritarian and closed system that exposes vulnerable children and families to abuse by the authorities.
We also hear of parents whose children have additional health challenges, such as Asperger, Tourette’s and ADHD, are too often are not met with support or respect for their difficult parental tasks, but instead have their children taken away and are deprived of their parental rights.”
21. (BS) If your child is being sexually abused in a foster home, we will move them straight away.
21. (TR) Sadly, as long as the investigation is ongoing, the children will stay exactly where they are.
22. (BS) We follow Human Right’s obligations.
22. (TR) Far from the truth. Tomáš Zdechovský is an elected member of the European Parliament and through his studies, has earned three Master’s degrees. He said:
“As a member of the European Parliament, I am deeply worried about how Norway, in many areas under the Rule of Law and particularly in CPS cases, violates its Human Rights obligations.
I am not surprised to see hundreds of thousands of people throughout Europe and in the rest of the world, marching the streets and protesting against Norway’s Human Right’s abuses.
With other colleagues in the European Parliament, from many different countries, I have decided that these abuses must come to a final end.”
23. (BS) We listen to parent’s concern.
23. (TR) Thea Totland is a lawyer in Norway and she sees this a little differently. She remarked:
“I have worked a lot with cases involving the care of children in Norway and I have found that the staff at barnevernet lack humility and willingness to have a dialogue. It is important that people take into account the fact that children, who moved from their biological parents into care, are not always placed in a foster home or an institution which can nurture their individual needs. With this mind, many would have been better off if they would have stayed with their own parents whilst receiving support and regular follow ups.”
24. (BS) Just because psychologists rely on their income coming from us, doesn’t mean that they write reports that we tell them to write.
24. (TR) In most cases, not true. Einar C. Salvesen is a psychologist in Norway. He said:
“Many Psychologists have too close ties with barnevernet, and their principal concern is to deliver their assessment to favour the interest of barnevernet. This risks the legal protection of the vulnerable families affected. Child Welfare appointed experts act disproportionately when cases come to court. As a result we often see that the biological parents have no chances to win against such a powerful ‘machine’.”
25. (BS) Parents can still see their children throughout the year.
25. (TR) True. In some cases, six times a year for two hours at a time. Other cases, four times a year, two hours at a time.
Eivind Meland, a general practitioner and professor of medicine at the University of Bergen said:
“…the right of access which, biological parents are completely denied by barnevernet, becomes primarily an attack against the children who need contact with their biological parents. Each case should be treated by its own merits and discretion. The current legal way is threatening the rule of law. The lawyers and judges have abandoned their posts and made the experts in the fields the new legal judges. It is an embarrassment and a shame.”
26. (BS) The parents are responsible for their children.
26. (TR) In the past they were. But now, things have changed. Jørgen Stueland, a Norwegian lawyer who has worked with child protection cases over several years said:
“The welfare state now owns our children. We only borrow them. And once an overzealous nurse, a doctor, a hateful neighbour, sends in a message of concern, barnevernet dissects a family’s life, and follows this up with taking the children.”
27. (BS) Social status does not come into the equation when we remove children from their parents.
27. (TR) Arne Seland, a lawyer who has worked in the judicial system for the last 20 years, including his special field of criminal law, child protection and child custody cases said:
“There is one guarantee not to have your children taken away in Norway: social status. I have seen incredibly many children be deprived of their parents. But I have never seen a doctor, never a lawyer, never a police officer, never a journalist have their child taken away. That’s the way it is.
This is about quite fundamental human rights. Human rights are there for the weakest. In Norway we have, with the best of intentions, taken from our children their fundamental human rights.”
28. (BS) Barnevernet has never been in such a good shape as it is today. We have positively moved forward.
29. (TR) No, unfortunately not. Marianne Haslev Skånland, Professor Emeritus, Bergen, Norway, suggests that Barnevernet has never left the ‘dark ages.’ She wrote:
“Barnevernet continue in exactly the same dictatorial style as they have done for several decades. All that is different, is that with ever more money in their hands, Barnevernet extends its actions to even more families; they take more children than before from their parents. They all the time say, that they and their ‘system’ are altogether different now from what they were in ‘the dark ages.’ The dark ages, however, usually turn out to be around 1990, or 2000, or the years before 2010 or thereabouts.
Around the year 2000, people who saw what was going on, often said, “Compensation will be paid out for this in 50 or 30 years’ time.” More recently, we may forecast that what Barnevernet is doing now, will be eligible for compensation in 20 years, even in 10, perhaps.”