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Constructive Goodwill regarding Barnevernet?

Jan-Aage Torp
April 19, 2016

An agonizing battle is taking place about the Norwegian Barnevernet. The EU Parliament in Brussels has had a session about this. The same has happened in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The Czech Parliament has passed a resolution on how Barnevernet in Norway should look like.

Constructive Goodwill regarding Barnevernet?Torp and TerningAnd Under Secretary of State, Kai-Morten Terning, in the Department for Children and Equality, is the only Norwegian politician who makes statements to the media. Apart from him, the silence is deafening.

Terning did something that inspired hope in VG on Saturday when he stretched out a hand to me. VG wrote:

"Terning says that he shares some of Torp´s concerns."

However, we are not so naive as to think that the problems around Barnevernet are thereby about to disappear. The systemic breeches are much greater than that would imply. There is something fundamentally wrong in the ideological foundations and systems of Barnevernet.

What about Christian leaders?

In this regard, I think that my good acquaintance Vebjørn Selbekk is doing one thing very right, and another thing very wrong.

Positively, the newspaper Dagen is probably the only Christian media-expression in Norway that is actually and increasingly presenting pluses and minuses about Barnevernet. This has to do with editor-in-chief Selbekk´s principled attitude to openness and freedom of speech. Selbekk deserves praise for this.

Negatively, when Selbekk speaks as the editor and as a player in society about the situation in focus around Barnevernet, then he attacks "the opposition" at our weakest points, as for instance when he last weekend focused onesidedly on a US lawyer who conveyed negative descriptions about Norway. However, if the criticism is to be constructive, Vebjørn Selbekk, it is important to find common ground where we can understand each other. Selbekk´s demonization of the international demonstrations contribute to the continuation of the negative assessment of him.

I learned 20 years ago that it is not necessary to win every debate in the short term. It is much better to listen and learn from each other, to see if we can find fundamental and practical areas of agreement. In the long term, that will often lead to progress.

And it is not right to demonize "the opposition", because that creates only frustration and fortifies the fronts.

Under Secretary Terning has also criticized the international demonstrations. But he ought rather to win the trust of international politicians and demonstrators. I have in no way given up faith in Minister Solveig Horne even though her communication is "different" now than three years ago. She is sitting in "position", and that is completely different than being in "opposition".

I believe that the battle for the future of Norway´s Barnevernet may soon enter into a more constructive track. Horne, Terning, the Christian Democratic Party´s (KrF) Members of Parliament  and leaders of BUFetat (Barnevernet´s cohesive structure) ought to stretch out a hand to the most pronounced crticis among us. Perhaps deliberations will not lead to the total solution in the short term. But perhaps improvements will be achieved which we can live with for the best of the children and the families in Norway?

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