Linda Hofstad Helleland (the Conservative Party), the Minister of Children and Equality, being interviewed.
(Note: The translations are mine. MHS)
(– Norwegian child protection is ahead.
Other countries will follow us.)
Aftenposten, 29 August 2018
The interview article is incredibly revealing, it is so very clear – clear enough, hopefully, to bring an end to the faithful confidence to our authorities' will and ability to put matters right in Barnevernet, if we can only show them, in a friendly way, that there are some mistakes which should be put right and then everything will be fine. – There are some good comments in subsequent issues of Aftenposten. I will post by and by.
The interview is worth bying the paper! Unfortunately the internet version is reserved for subscribers, except for a couple of sentences.
"– Jeg viker ikke en tomme når det gjelder norsk barnevern. Norge er et foregangsland når det gjelder å beskytte barn mot vold og overgrep, sier (barneminister) Linda Hofstad Helleland (H)."
(I am not going to give an inch when it comes to Norwegian child protection. Norway is a pioneer country when it is about protecting children against violence and abuse, says (children's minister) Linda Hofstad Helleland (the Conservative Party).)
Nice to have it stated in such indisputable terms how irate the Minister is towards families shom she lets the CPS Barnevernet demolish with their violence and abuse.
"Helleland mener historien vil vise at Norge har rett, selv om det kommer mye kritikk fra tunge aktører både nasjonalt og internasjonalt."
(Helleland holds that history will show Norway to be right, even if there is a lot of criticism from heavy participants both nationally and internationally.)
The countries carrying out "protection" of children in the same way, will quite likely experience the same inferno of children and families being harmed and deprived of freedom which is taking place already not only in Norway but in the Western world. Good to see Helleland being so clear about what we will be exporting.
"Men hva sier du til kritikken som har kommet om at barn tas fra foreldre på sviktende grunnlag?"
(But what do you say to the criticism that has come about children being taken from parents on an untenable basis?)
"– Jeg ønsker debatten velkommen, men synes ikke at man ut fra enkeltmeneskers handlinger skal kunne dømme et helt system og lovverk. Det blir for enkelt, sier barneministeren."
(– I welcome the debate, but I don't think one should judge a whole system and legislation based on the actions of single individuals. That is too facile, says the children's minister.)
Really, too "facile"? It is probably rather too complicated for the Minister to have to face the fact that individual cases say a lot about the system and the legislation, and the courts' and Bufdir's and Barnevernet's practice – all of it stuff for which Helleland bears a strong responsibility? In addition, she carries some responsibility in each individual case, actually, a responsibility to see to it that the tragedies are brought to a stop.
Norway has equipped its power-invested people with the curious notion that one is not responsible for correcting what is wrong in individual cases, mistaken actions which are a result of the system functioning, whether or not the system was meant to function like that.
– My thoughts go to things like . Should it be of no concern to the French government and power elite of the time because they had "decided" that the justice system was wonderful? We remember that grave faults and lies were revealed both in the first and in the second court case.
"Evidence came to light in 1896—primarily through an investigation instigated by Georges Picquart, head of counter-espionage—identifying a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy as the real culprit. After high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after a trial lasting only two days. The Army then accused Dreyfus with additional charges based on falsified documents. Word of the military court's framing of Dreyfus and of an attempted cover-up began to spread, chiefly owing to J'Accuse…!, a vehement open letter published in a Paris newspaper in January 1898 by writer Émile Zola. Activists put pressure on the government to reopen the case."
[Helleland] "trekker frem mange angrep fra utenlandsk hold der man har tatt tak i en enkeltsak som blir presentert bare fra foreldrenes synspunkt, uten at man får vite hva som ligger til grunn for omsorgsovertagelsen."
([Helleland] She gives as an example [the] many attacks from foreign sources, in which a single case has been pulled out, presented only from the point of view of the parents, while one is not told what is the basis for the taking into care.)
And why "is one not told"?
Answer: Because the Norwegian mainstream press, true to the authorities, will not print facts but support the secrecy advocated and enforced by the authorities. The families have the documents, including the allegations of Barnevernet, and are in their full right to publish and make their cases known with their true content including what the actions of Barnevernet towards children and parents are. Now that we are so fortunate as to have the internet, the standard media come up with repeated attempts to denigrate the CPS victims, throwing suspicion on their accounts in social media and even have them made illegal.
If the CPS question is ever to be put wirht, the Norwegian public will have to stop believing trustfully in everything a politically correct newspaper prints, and must seek as much information as they can from the concerned families. There are more than enough of them to make the truth rather obvious.
"–Vi som lager og utarbeider loven, og barnevernsansatte som hver dag gjør en fantastisk jobb for sårbare barn, vet at det alltid kan skje feil. Vi prøver alt vi kan å forbedre tjenesten, systemet og omsorgen vi gir til barna og gjennomgår enkeltsaker for å redusere risiko for svikt."
(– We who make and work out the law, and child protection employees who every day do a fantastic job for vulnerable children, know that mistakes are always possible. We try all we can to improve the service, the system and the care we give to children, and we go through individual cases in order to reduce the possibility of failure.)
She trivialises to her heart's content, carefully avoiding doing the most important thing of all: acknowledge that first of all they must try to rectify whatever can be amended in the present catastrophes. Children who are in the power of Barnevernet must be set free and allowed to go back home to their families.
On average about 5 children flee Barnevernet's "care" every day. The first place Barnevernet sends the police to look for them is in the parents' home, and from there they are again taken by force.
To Aftenposten's question of whether she regrets having said no to meeting with the BBC's journalist, she replies e.g.:
" – Jeg vil ikke finne meg i å se på at man dømmer norsk barnevern ut fra grove feil som enkeltpersoner gjør. Det må de stå til rette for selv."
(– I will not put up with watching people judge Norwegian child protection on the basis of grave mistakes made by single individuals. For those they must answer themselves.)
"Mitt hovedanliggende er ikke hva som er best for BBC, men hensynet til barnets beste."
(My main objective is not what is best for the BBC, but the consideration for what is best for the child.)
The child psychiatrist concerned will probably have to answer to some degree for abuse pictures and films. But not towards the families to whose destruction he has contributed materially. To try to re-establish a reasonable life for them, parents and children, is the task of our authorities. Among other things they must be fully open towards the children about the authorities' own guilt for their tragedy – it has not been caused by the parents.
At this point in the interview, Helleland's self-control seems shaky and her answers ridiculous. It is not so often that government ministers show this degree of irritation towards the media. She trots out the old fairy tale of possessing the right interpretation of "the child's best interest"? What is that supposed to mean? Is she on the verge of not being able to win through with the usual child protection phrases?
"– Det er bare i 18 prosent av sakene det settes inn omsorgstiltak med tvang, påpeker hun."
(– Only in 18 per cent of the cases, forced care measures are being employed, she emphasises.)
Well, on Bufdir's page
Vel, på Bufdirs side (child protection statistics) we find something else. Bufdir has sections in English on its website, but I cannot find this particular information on it anywhere, so I translate from the Norwegian page:
"60 % av barn og unge med hjelp fra barnevernet mottok hjelpetiltak i hjemmet
For flertallet av barna og familiene som kommer i kontakt med barnevernet, er det tilstrekkelig med hjelpetiltak i hjemmet. Formålet med å sette i verk hjelpetiltak er å bidra til positiv endring hos barnet eller i familien. Ved utgangen av 2016 fikk 23 452 barn og unge i alderen 0–22 år hjelpetiltak i hjemmet. Dette utgjorde 60 % av barna med barnevernstiltak ved utgangen av 2016."
(60% of children and families with help from Barnevernet receive help measures in the home
For the majority of children and families who come into contact with Barnevernet, help measures in the home are sufficient. The purpose of starting help is to contribute to a positive change in the child or in the family. At the end of 2016 23,452 children and young between the ages of 0 and 22 received help in the home. This was 60% of children with help measures from the CPS at the end of 2016.)
"40 % av barn og unge med hjelp fra barnevernet var plassert utenfor hjemmet
Plassering av barn og unge utenfor hjemmet er bare aktuelt dersom barnevernets hjelpetiltak ikke er tilstrekkelig for å sikre barnet en forsvarlig omsorgssituasjon. Ved utgangen av 2016 var 15 820 barn og unge plassert utenfor hjemmet av barneverntjenesten. Disse utgjorde 40 % av barn og unge med tiltak fra barnevernet. Dette er en økning på 6 prosentpoeng fra 2003, da 34 % var plassert utenfor hjemmet."
(40 % of children and young with help from Barnevernet were placed outside the home
Placement of children and young outside the home is only considered if Barnevernet’s help measures are not sufficient to secure an acceptable care situation for the child. By the end of 2016, 15,820 children and you were placed outside the home by the Barnevernet service. These were 40% of children and young with measures from Barnevernet. This is an increase of 6% from 2003, when 34% were placed outside the home.)
Well well, there are plenty of statistics in this field, prevalence and incidence and new CPS children and averages and comparisons with other years and other countries. By and large such figures are unimportant; the important thing is to put a stop to the unreliable and sometimes plain untrue arguments and contentions used by the CPS to take children into forced care, even if it only happened in a single case!
But about just these numbers from Bufdir, 40 and 60 per cent, I really believe they would need some clarification in comparison to Helleland's 18 per cent. – It is not only in extreme, rare cases that children are deprived of their parents and their home? In 40 per cent of the cases in which the CPS is active?
"– Det bekymrer meg at debatten i det offentlige rom preges av et hatforhold til barnevernet, og at barnevernsansatte blir utsatt for hets og trakassering, sier Helleland,"
(– It worries me that the debate in the public sphere is characterised by a hate-relationship to Barnevernet, and that Barnevern employees are being subjected to smear campaigns and harassment, says Helleland,)
She is not worried, then, for all the families who have been forcibly demolished by Barnevernet and other authorities cooperating with them.
Indeed, the ones to have had hatred and harassment directed against them are first and foremost the parents and children over which Barnevernet wants power.
Helleland's strong statements about the system which she will not deviate an inch from, seem curious when she says:
"– Vi er opptatt av å gi foreldre større medvirkning og bedre muligheter til å bli hørt i sakene. Vi ønsker så langt det lar seg gjøre at barn blir boende hos sine biologiske foreldre, understreker hun."
(– We are concerned to give parents greater participation and better possibilities of being heard in the cases. We want, as far as possible, for children to stay with their biological parents, she underlines. )
Everybody who has observed Barnevernet for a long time knows that this is exactly what Barnevernet and every minister for children have fought against, tooth and nail, all through the years. It is not difficult to give authority and sensible power back to parents. One just has to stop Barnevernet from implementing their senseless fantasies about parents as the most dangerous there is for children. Reality is the opposite.
And then Helleland wants an "improvement of competence", more education, more of the same. But she thinks Barnevernet is so good already? And she wants to "invitere til et bredt anlagt debattmøte for å få innspill fra flere grupper" (issue an invitation to a broadly planned debate meeting in order to get suggestions from more groups).
Hmm, which groups? The state-financed NGOs? And why these eternal "debates" from which they "learn", but never learn enough to arrive at the road of common sense?
The Minister, who will absolutely not discuss individual cases, also says "vi .... gjennomgår enkeltsaker for å redusere risiko for svikt" (we go through individual cases in order to reduce the possibility of failure). I suppose this is a reference to the scrutinising of 100 cases which they very reluctantly consented to do and which is to drag on for several years? But they do not scrutinise in order to put right the miscarriages of justice found in so many such cases. No, it is the vague, general idea of being able to be more perfect in future case-handling.
Is this the top:
"– Et viktig spørsmål vi diskuterer, er hvordan prinsippene om rett til familieliv og barnets rett til beskyttelse skal veies opp mot hverandre. Regjeringen har ikke konkludert i dette spørsmålet, men jeg vurderer å ta inn i loven en ytterligere tydeliggjøring av barnets rett til beskyttelse."
(– An important question we are discussing, is how the principles of the right to family life and the child's right to protection are to be balanced against each other. The government has not concluded on this question, but I am considering taking into the text of the law an additionally clear formulation about the child's right to protection.)
They should not be balanced against each other. They are in the large, large majority of cases one and the same thing. Cases where this is not so should be handled by the police, and sufficient legislation exists already.
But now we know, indisputably. Linda Hofstad Helleland sees parents and home first and foremost as an arena of violence and abuse, and she wages war to "protect" children even more absolutely against their home.
That violence and abuse should be thought to be the, or a, major reason given by Barnevernet for taking children into care, we know to be untrue. Again the figures given vary, but such cases are in a decided minority. The study gives figures for major reasons for CPS interference in 2008: violence in the home 4.1% (it is not said clearly whether this includes or means violence against other persons than the children), and 3.1% for the sum of physical, mental and sexual abuse. To these relatively low figures we must add that it is known from quite a few cases that not all of Barnevernet's accusations of violence and abuse are true.
This deliberate misrepresentation: Helleland's twisting of the content of CPS cases into seeming to be generally about violent and abusive actions carried out by parents against their children, dominates the interview. It is Norway's great tragedy. Helleland is a tragedy for Norway.