"Barnevernet" (Norway's official child protective services agency) is being accused by international authorities for "stealing" children. Three leading lawyers in Norway recently warned against the failed policies and practices of Barnevernet in an op-ed in VG, Norway´s largest newspaper. While the world is opposing these destructive policies, it is noteworthy that significant forces are also raising the issues of malpractices against families and children.
Facsimile from VG, showing the lawyers Fridtjof P. Gundersen, Thea Totland and Trude TrønnesThe lawyers Fridtjof P. Gundersen, Thea Totland and Trude Trønnes of the law firm Totland, who are specialists in cases on child care in Norway, raised the debate last year in VG: What is child care that is "good enough".
The lawyers write: "At our office, we work every day with cases about Barnevernet. We see much that is good in Barnevernet, and that is very important. But we also see enough of the bad to understand what nations such as Lithuania, Czech Republic, and Poland are talking about. The criticism that is directed against Norwegian child welfare services is connected to the question about what is good enough child care?"
They concluded that "the requirements of Barnevernet for parental ability of take care of their own children have become so strict that too many children are separated from parents and siblings".
Thea Totland The sentence was recently passed in a court case regarding Barnevernet in which both parents are ethnic Norwegian. The experts of Barnevernet concluded differently than both the kindergarten personel and a psychiatric nurse who had related closely and for a long time with the family This resulted in the separation of the 3 year old twins who have been placed in separate foster homes, separated for the first time in life.
"These parents are described by professionals and health personel that they know and trust, as loving and caring. They also stated in court that the children developed normally and at their own pace. But the parents did not function well when they met Barnevernet. They appear fumbling and insecure when they know that they are being assessed as parents and faced with a possible care-takeover. In court, they worked hard to explain their ability to care for the childreń. For some, it is virtually impossible to state their own care in theoretical terms. They have a very resourceful family that has been there all the time; a close relative with heavy child-professional competency has been willing to be a foster-mother. But that was not even considered. Instead, the twins were separated in one home each".
The attornies say that there has been a clear shift in the direction that Barnevernet and expert psychologists perform a very critical evaluation of the parental emotional care.
"The evaluations are based on unclear and inaccessible criteria, they are very approximate, and in practical terms they cannot be re-examined by a judge. So the evaluations are often definitve. This probem is the same for Norwegian and foreign families. The difference is that foreigners react. They rightly view the reference of BUFDIR (the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs) to the rule of law and the court of justice as empty honor words that camouflage reality".