Children Removed without Advance Warning

14416130088_b9df1b5a8dby Tomáš Zdechovský

I have already written a lot about Norwegian cases of children removed from their families and I am constantly finding more and more information indicating that there is something wrong with the Norwegian social system.

The article De fleste barn hentes uanmeldt from 2012 is bringing us another alarming finding about the Norwegian system. The article states that according to the study of Gunn Astrid Baugerund, a Norwegian psychologist, in eight cases out of ten, children were removed from their families without any advance warning. And it shows that there had to be something wrong with the system few years ago as well.

In her thesis, Gunn Astrid Baugerund was dealing with memories and stress reactions of neglected children placed into the substitute care by the Barnevernet.  The psychologist was the first one who was deeply exploring the practice of the Barnevernet. She conducted hundreds of interviews with removed children, one week after their placement into the substitute care for the first time and after three months again. She was also present during the placements of the children and observed the level of their stress. The conclusion of the study was no surprise. It said that the planned placement of children was much less stressful for them and contrarily, the unplanned removal caused panic reactions connected with various traumas which children still recalled vividly after many months.
As we can see from the Norwegian statistics, the proportion of children out of home increased from 5.5 ‰ in 2005 to 7.5 ‰ in 2014. Another alarming fact is that removed children cannot be sure that their first foster family would be the last place where they would be raised. According to the statistics from 2009 – 2012, hundreds of children changed the foster family twice and tens of children had to move three times in one year. In extreme cases, some children had to move four or five times. Yes, it probably was an exception, but it also points out to the inability of the Barnevernet to guarantee children from problematic backgrounds an adequate foster care.  Impacts on the mental development of the children moving from one foster family to another many times a year are immense.

Let’s look at the numbers in the broader context. According to the Norwegian authorities, there were 46 058 children in the Barnevernet care in 2014, 37 166 of them were left in their families (so called supportive measures applied) and 8 892 were removed and placed in the foster care out of their own families. In previous five years, the situation was very similar and the numbers were not very different either.

The removal of children has to be the utmost solution after the consideration of all other alternatives. The number of the children removed without any advance warning is very alarming. Were all these cases really so urgent that an immediate intervention was necessary? It almost looks like the Barnevernet follows a pattern of fast trials infamous in dictatorial regimes. Same as those regimes, this Norwegian institution determines quickly and firmly about the destiny of children and families.

5519d84b8c3413dcd6c1e0e5560ed2fddfaa38ceca78a54194f206f2da0473a1I hope that these practices do not spread out into other countries and that they will come to an end soon also in Norway. These practices should not have its place in any democratic country at all!

Source:  Tomáš Zdechovský MEP

 

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