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13 October 2022
 
 
 
Olav Terje Bergo:
 
What can elected politicians in Norway do about our child protection system Barnevernet?

 
 
Among professionals in and around Barnevernet, there is strong ideological pressure making it difficult to deviate from conventional, agreed, but long since obsolete truths. A harsh, within-the-walls discipline seems to exist against colleagues who oppose the bad culture of the child protection professions.
 
Elected politicians in the municipalities have full political responsibility. But the politicians are not given access to the details of Barnevernet's treatment of children and families. From the municipal administration, the information received by politicians is white-washed at best. In the municipal administrative system the dramatic details in the cases and in Barnevernet's handling of them have disappeared, are made nothing of, or have been camouflaged and made anonymous.
 
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If elected politicians are to obtain unvarnished insight into what is going on in Barnevernet's encounters with children and families, the politicians elected by the people have to mobilise their moral courage and talk with people who have been treated unreasonably or wrongly by Barnevernet.
 
Individuals elected to hold political office are not municipal employees. They are representatives elected by ballot. Their right of access is not limited to what municipal employees can and want to tell them. The politicians can speak freely with the voters who have elected them to their duty, and many of these voters can tell them what it was like to meet the dysfunctional Norwegian child protection service. John Alvheim talked with people when he was deputy mayor of Notodden. At the time he represented Kristelig Folkeparti (the Christian Democratic Party). He discovered how much wrongdoing, lawlessness and lack of respect for children and their families there was in Barnevernet in the town whose leadership he took part in. He took this insight with him when he changed his political party and was elected to parliament in 1989-2005. In 1995 he published ten points of advice to families who come into contact with the child protection system (popularly, and not ironically or irreverently, known as Alvheim's 'ten commandments'). Unfortunately, these points of advice are still highly relevant. As a parliamentary representative for Fremskrittspartiet (the Progress Party) Alvheim distinguished himself as an excellent and widely respected politician in the areas of health and social questions.
 
It was through Alvheim's efforts that the Progress Party for a number of years looked through the misinformation of Barnevernet and its use of force against children and their families. Politicians of other political parties and in other municipalities must now show that they possess the moral courage shown by Alvheim. Like him, they should take note and communicate freely if they are contacted by children or families who are in Barnevernet's searchlight and who wish to speak with their elected representatives.
 
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Because that is what they are, the politicians elected through democratic vote: they are the voters' spokesmen. Nobody can forbid them to speak with the people who elected them, those who have given them a commission, and who may perhaps vote for them again.
 
Among the voters are also some disillusioned employees in Barnevernet who wish for change, but who are not supported in this wish within the system and who do not have the possibility of taking part in the public debate about Barnevernet. The politicians must listen to these employees and their representatives too and ask their advice.
 
Changing the practice, the culture, basic values and proficiency in Norwegian child protection is a formidable task. It has to start with honest, open and public debate about how much there is which is terribly wrong, and an admission that it will take time to change everything.
 
But that which can not wait, but which must be changed immediately, is the gross abuse carried out by Barnevernet against children, partly by not helping those who ask for and need help but do not get it, and partly by interfering unasked in the lives of children and by destroying their lives, their health and their education through abuse of power and foolishness.
 
 
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See also
 
 
Olav Terje Bergo:
Nordanger's CPS-haters
MHS's home page, 8 September 2018
 
 – :  The stubborn blindness of the defenders of Barnevernet
MHS's home page, 2 March 2019
 
Øistein Schjønsby:
Should we feel sorry for the CPS employees?
MHS's home page, 18 August 2014
 
Nils Morten Udgaard:
Norway and 'civil society'
MHS's home page, 13 November 2016
 
The Skretting law firm:
Brothers and sisters of children in care
MHS's home page, 26 July 2021
 
Siv Westerberg:
Norway and Sweden – where inhuman rights prevail
MHS's home page, 7 May 2012 / 11 November 2017
 
Else Sommer:
Assistance to families
MHS's home page, 13 August 2013

Vlad Gladkikh:
My email to the Norwegian Government
MHS's home page, 1 April 2012
 
Marianne Haslev Skånland:
The Norwegian child protection agency Barnevernet's use of duress and force against children
MHS's home page, 24 November 2016
 
Tonje Omdahl:
It is indefensible that the CPS Barnevernet abuses its power and mobilises the police against defenceless children
MHS's home page, 11 June 2021

Julian Chan:
Barnevernet Observed "My Daughter Hugging Me a Lot..."
Delight in Truth, 9 June 2016
 
familien-er-samlet (the-family-is-together):
Flight, exile and taking chances
MHS's home page, 11 November 2020
 
Chris Reimers:
Baby Caspian kidnapped in Norway – update #2
Wings of the Wind, 20 June 2016

Octavian D. Curpas:
With Barnevernet, Norway is going South
MHS's home page, 1 September 2016

 
 







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