Political program for child protection in local administration
4th edition, 10 March 2012
In 2007 Erland Løken in Kongsberg took the initiative to establish a political program for child protection at a local level, for a new political party wanting to start up. He asked me for suggestions regarding the contents of such a program.
Norwegian Child Protection Service (CPS) is a total catastrophe for children and their families; everything must be revised within legislation, judicial process, practical work, organisation and education of child protection workers and their allied professions, if we are ever to obtain real child protection instead of today's system of persecution, prisonlike life, and long-lasting suffering and life destruction for a large number of children and for their families. But legislation as well as practical CPS work and developments in ideology at present proceed in the wrong direction.
However, the fact that nothing positive happens on a national level should not stop bright minds, having understood that something is wrong and having gained an understanding into what is going on, from working for restructuring on a local level and promoting real insight in the community. The existence of a local political initiative alone, an initiative to do something practical and immediate to protect at least some children from the madness of our authorities, can encourage those who are being persecuted and perhaps wake some naïve citizens up to start wondering what the present "child protection services" hide beneath their surface and to try to stem the alarming development.
I therefore composed the first 17 of the paragraphs below, as a suggestion of what could be proposed in each municipality. Nina Hauge contributed several points to the introduction. Erland Løken presented it as a motion at a meeting of the party "Folkevett" (≈ Common Sense) in Kongsberg, who passed it on the 7 June 2007. The present §19 was added and passed on the 4 October 2007. Several of the paragraphs were taken up by the Danmarks Børn (Denmark's Children), an association working against the present practice of child protection in Denmark, their child protection being of the same kind as that of Norway. The present §18 stems from the program formulated by Denmark's Children. I have inserted it not last but after §17 because of its natural relationship to it.
Late November 2010, §19 received a slight addition explaining the purpose of publicising. Minor changes, mostly linguistic, have been made in 2012.
Anyone finding something useful in the program is of course welcome to utilise it, parts or whole, as their own!
Marianne Haslev Skånland
Bergen, 19 November 2010 and 10 March 2012
Protection of the child / Child Protection
Norwegian child protection is in a serious mess.
Worst of all are all the removals of children from their homes by force and all the additional force which the families are subjected to, under threat of forcible transfer of care of the children if the family does not comply with the measures of the CPS. Instead of helping children living under unacceptable conditions and families who ask for help, the CPS attacks families as if the parents are enemies of their children, and take the children by force away from parents whom the children love and who love the children.
These family destructions are carried out with the help of an ever-increasing number of millions of crowns, sums of money used to cause damage and destruction for children instead of giving help, and which are therefore without positive effect and are instead poured into a black hole.
The ideology of the CPS har been built on pure speculations without a basis in reality. The CPS obstinately resists learning from or even reading the real research literature, which shows catastrophically poor prognoses for children placed in foster homes or institutions. Living under CPS care gives children a markedly elevated risk of:
• a lack of experienced happiness and meaning in the period of growing up, because the child is not allowed to live together with those for whom it has a nature-given, mutual love and a feeling of belonging together,
• missing family solidarity and kin solidarity in adult age,
• divorce and other falling apart of their own family established as adults,
• actions from the CPS who take away their own children,
• suffering maltreatment and abuse in foster home / institution,
• poor education,
• early disability pensioning,
• physical and psychiatric illness,
• early death, suicide being one of the causes,
• alcohol and substance abuse,
• a criminal career and prison sentences,
• a general experience of maladjustment and an inimical attitude towards society.
Such poor future prospects are also valid for children taken from their parents at birth. In other words, the parents' treatment of their children before the transfer of care is not the reason for these negative developments.
The CPS also uses unproven and directly untrue accusations against children as well as parents, uses them in their reports, in the procedures in the County Social Board which initially decides on transfer of care, and in court. Children's own wishes of staying with their family or of going home to their family are ignored, worked against and obstructed by the CPS. The CPS inflicts further pain on children in its care by hindering a partial alleviation of their strong yearning for their families through freedom for foster children to decide that there are to be meetings with their families as often as they themselves like.
In other words, what today passes under the name of "Child Protection" bears no relation to its name. In order to obtain for Norwegians citizens child protection which protects and helps children, a total renovation of the Child Protection Service is needed. Completely new guidelines must be laid down for the way the work of the Service is to be carried out. Important changes must be made in legislation, court procedure and legal practice. This will all have to be done on a national level. Nevertheless it is possible to make comprehensive improvements on a municipal basis. A municipality should implement the following measures:
1. A client committee (CC) is established
The municipality appoints a Client Committee which is to be fully responsible for the actions and statements of the municipal Child Protection Service (CPS). The instructional power of the Client Committee over the CPS shall not be delegated, neither to the CPS nor to other units or persons.
2. The CC acquires knowledge of relevant research
The Client Committee is directed as its duty to work to acquire a store of knowledge of research (some of it international) about the statistical effects on children of different measures they are subjected to by child protection units. This duty of the CC extends to keeping updated on important such research, likewise to differentiate clearly between, on the one hand, studies, reports and textbooks produced by the CPS themselves and professions connected to them, and, on the other hand, scientific literature stemming from reliable research made with valid scientific method re statistics, sampling, control groups, hypothesis formulation and hypothesis testing.
3. The CC instructs the CPS, based on the reliable research and on its duties to the municipality's citizens
The Client Committee is obliged by duty to base its instructions to the CPS in individual cases on the reliable research. The CC shall always keep clearly in mind that their primary duty, and the primary duty of the municipal administration, is not to protect the municipality's employees irrespective of what these functionaries do, but to make sure that the inhabitants in the municipality receive service and aid to which they are entitled from municipal employees and do not experience abuse of power from them.
4. The CC exercises reliable and thorough control and check of each individual case
The CC is instructed to go into every single case thoroughly. In each case they shall hold a meeting to which they call in parents as well as children of an age making it possible for them to voice an opinion. Neither the CPS nor foster parents, temporary foster parents or shelter administrators, guardians appointed outside the child's family, psychological experts or other outsiders shall be allowed to attend the meeting. The CC shall keep a detailed, written account of the family's own version of its case and shall check whether there is any evidence for each individual contention made by the CPS. The CC's account shall be presented for the parents, and for children over a certain age, for endorsement or correction. A tape-recording or video-recording of the meeting shall be made and the family is to be given copies of these.
5. The CC puts into effect an immediate termination of CPS care for children who want it and brings the children home
The most urgent task in today's situation is to bring home every child who is under municipal care and who wants to go home. For each such child under the care of the municipality, the CC shall without delay fetch the child to a meeting in the CC. Likewise the CC shall contact the child's parents. The CC shall both meet with the child and the parents separately and speak to child and parents together. In these talks the CC shall find out if the child and the parents want reunion. The CC shall make it quite clear for the parents and in particular for the child that they do not risk any punishment or sanctions by choosing for the child to go home. The CC shall see to it that children who wish to go home, are shielded from influence, expressions of dissatisfaction, conditions or demands from the CPS and foster parents / institutional personnel. Such shielding shall, if at all possible, be done by the CC personally bringing the child home immediately and then personally going to the child's previous place of residence in foster home, temporary foster home, institution or elsewhere, packing up the child's belongings and have them transported to the child. Any pets which the child has in the foster home / institution shall be brought to the child right away.
6. The CC seeks actively in the extended family or among family friends if the parents are unable to take the child home
If there are children under municipal care who wish to go home to their own family but where the parents are either both dead, in prison, or so seriously ill that they find it not in their power to have the child live with them for the present time, the CC shall search actively for other of the child's relatives or near friends of the family whom the child wants to live with and who are willing to have the child living with them until such time as the parents may be able to have the child come home. In choosing between several alternative relations / family friends the CC shall prefer the person or persons who will most actively make sure that the child, as often as possible and as often as the child wants, visits or spends time with its parents and other relatives.
7. The CC records the placement of the child at home as an emergency decision and brings an action of permanent placement at home to the court
Especially unfortunate legislation making it impossible for a municipality to simply annul a previous decision that a child is to be held under the care of the CPS, the CC shall record the placement of the child at home as an acute measure. The CC shall then bring an action before the County Social Board or a court, claiming that the release from public care shall be permanent and that the municipality's authority over the child ceases. When conducting the case, the municipality shall not make use of a lawyer employed by the municipality or any other lawyer who has previously represented any municipality in cases in which the municipality has argued for the taking into CPS care of children or for any other measure involving force in CPS cases. The municipality shall engage a lawyer who has not in any previous case argued for forced CPS care, and who actively and without reservation argues for the child's free return to its home. Alternatively, the CC itself shall function as the municipality's legal representative in court and / or before the County Social Board. The municipality shall not allow the CPS to function as their representative in the case; the CC shall be the unit representing the municipality.
8. Conditions acceptable in a state under the rule of law are introduced through the payment of compensation and redress for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, and through necessary aid to families who have been kept apart without legimitate reason
In the majority of CPS cases of children having been taken into forced public care, they have been taken from their families and their homes without a legitimate and unbiased reason and have been kept away from their families without legitimate reason. In each such case in which measures have been taken on the basis of accusations about concrete facts and circumstances which later turn out to lack substance, the payment of compensation and redress shall be routine, not obliging the damaged child and family to bring an action. This will be analogous to compensation payed to individuals having been kept in custody pending criminal trial in cases in which the accused is not convicted.
Large sums of money are released by winding up the extensive foster home and institutional placement that has been usual practice up to now. Likewise, considerable costs involving legal assistance and expenses connected with the court cases are avoided when the number of cases involving forced measures is cut down to the few that are really necessary. Amounts saved in this way shall immediately be used for assistance to families whose children are returned, as well as to an advance on redress and compensation to the children and their families for their sufferings. As a basic compensation, the children and their families shall receive, free of tax, the same amount as the child benefit having been kept back or having been transferred to the disposal of foster families, for the whole period that a child has been under forced public care. The CC submits proposals for additional compensation and presents them to the municipality.
9. The CC institutes principles for its treatment of new cases
In addition to the task of bringing home children now kept away from their families, it is very important to bring the CPS's continued actions under control and to prevent new, unjustified and injurious cases of public care. The CC shall therefore, in every case in which the CPS intends to make use of force, go through and consider the case beforehand, in accordance with the following principles:
10. Only factual expert opinions shall be allowed
No use shall be made of psychological opinions or assessments, since they are without a factual or scientific basis. Expert opinions from somatic medicine may be admitted to make clear whether a child's medical needs in the case of illness or handicap necessitate that help be given to the parents.
11. An action aimed at forced taking into public care is only brought when there is reliable reason to believe provable, criminal conduct by the parents to the child
Maltreatment, abuse or an injurious degree of neglect of children are covered by the common criminal law, and only such criminal acts on the part of parents shall give the basis for bringing an action of forced public care before the County Social Board and the courts. Such a case of forced public care is held independently of any criminal case concerning the same criminal acts, but the case of forced public care for the child shall be conducted with analogous demands regarding the form of the case and regarding proof.
12. Only investigation carried out by the police shall lead to bringing action to take a child into public care
Any charge from the CPS regarding criminal conduct by parents is to be investigated by the police. The required explicit formulation of the charge shall be equivalent to the standard in criminal cases. The charge shall be specified: Who has committed the criminal acts, of what does it consist, how, when, over how long time has it taken place. This requirement is analogous to the requirement for an indictment in an ordinary criminal case. An action to take a child into public care shall only be brought if there is evidence satisfying the assessment of the police as to the criminal status of the acts, and only if it is considered likely by the police that the acts would lead to conviction in a criminal case.
13. The other important needs of children shall be met through assistance to their home
In all other cases in which the circumstances are not fully satisfactory for a child, the CPS shall only be permitted to offer realistic help of types wanted by the family. In addition, the CPS are to support and assist the parents e.g in relation to kindergartens or schools, by taking up unsatisfactory conditions there which cause injury, problems or suffering for the child.
14. Case procedure in a case of potential use of forced measures
In a potential case involving the use of forced measures, parents and children shall be summoned to a meeting in the CC in the same way as described in §5, and a detailed, written account and a recording, as described in §4, shall be made by the CC. The CC's account shall be presented for the family for endorsement or correction.
15. Adoptions away from the parents shall not normally take place
Adoption of a child under the authority of the CPS away from its parents shall not be carried out, neither to foster parents nor to others, except in the rare cases in which both parents are dead and the child has no other family. The prognosis for adopted children is better than for foster children, but adopted children's prognosis too is poorer than even the prognosis for children growing up under difficult conditions with their own parents. Success or failure of the relationship between adopted children and their adoptive parents resembles the relationship between partners in a pair relationship rather than the relationship between biological children and parents. The research showing this is suppressed by the CPS. The expressed policy and legislation favouring adoption away of children in CPS care is one more attempt on the part of the authorities and the CPS to saddle the parents with the blame for problems that in reality are caused by the child being deprived of its own family. The CC shall, in accordance with knowledge of these realities, make sure that such adoptions are prevented.
16. The CPS and other personnel shall cooperate with parents in cases of necessary institutional placement of children
In cases of a child showing such a degree of unruly or criminal conduct that the parents find they cannot manage to have the child living at home, the child can be placed in an institution against its will for as long as the parents find this necessary. In such cases the CPS as well as the personnel of the institution shall cooperate with the parents and fully support the maintenance of the closest possible contact between child and parents. The parents shall have a right of access to their child at any time, to spend time with the child, have contact via telephone and letters, and they shall have the right at any time to terminate the institutional placement.
17. Contact and visitation between children placed outside of their parental home and their parents shall not be hindered
Children placed outside of their parental home shall not be prevented from having all the contact they and their parents want by phone, including by mobile phone. There are furthermore to be get-togethers between the parents and the children on the same basis as is usual in cases of parents living apart: at least one afternoon per week and every second week-end.
18. Contact and visitation between children placed outside of their parental home and other people shall not be hindered
Children placed outside of their parental home shall not be prevented from having all the normal contact with other children and other people which they themselves and their parents want them to have.
19. The CC shall assist the families in having their CPS cases publicised
The CC shall actively assist the families who have been affected by forced public care or other negative action from the CPS, in having their histories published, if the family wants this. Publication gives to the families who publicise their cases an added protection against new attacks directed against them by the CPS in the future. Furthermore, it contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the general public about the activities of the CPS, knowledge and understanding which are necessary prerequisites to be able to change the CPS over time. The publishing of CPS cases also puts the general population on the alert against action from the CPS in the present.
The CC shall, as far as is possible, establish whether there is supporting evidence or other verification for the CPS's version as well as for the family's version, or help the family locate such evidence.
Assistance with the publication of cases can be carried out through the CC supporting the approach of the families to newspapers or magazines, but if these do not publish the family's articles about their case or do not do this in a satisfactory way, the CC itself shall have publications printed and distributed to the municipality's inhabitants, at the municipality's cost. The CC shall also help the families have their articles published on the internet and help with information about this to make it known.
Publication carried out by the CC can be done as a simple magazine or periodical, e.g 2 - 3 times a year when there are cases waiting to be published. To start with, such publication will incur some expenses for the municipality. It will, however, contribute to bringing the CPS's treatment of cases under control, leading to very few new cases of forced public care and an increasing number of cases in which the CPS gives positive and courteous help as wanted by the families. The need for publicising cases in which families have been subject to improper treatment by the CPS will then be moderate and the costs will go down accordingly.