Three interesting articles in Norwegian in Dagbladet and Aftenposten regarding the BBC documentary:
Reidar Hjermann, specialist psychologist, former Children's Ombudsman
(This is what you should have said to BBC, Helleland)
Dagbladet, 7 August 2018
Hjermann is a Children's Ombudsman from not so many years ago. He wants to be Minister for Children and Equality Linda Hofstad Helleland's communications advisor for a minute and thinks she should have given the BBC one of the usual, airy replies (my translation here and below) to questions concerning the convicted child psychiatrist who has evaluated the work of other psychologists, and concerning Silje Garmo's asylum application in Poland:
"While I am unable to say anything about the concrete cases you point to, I can say that Barnevernet is the most important, but also one of the most complicated help systems we have for children and families in Norway. Because these are people working with people in very complex cases full of conflict, there will once in a while be things done which we afterwards see to have been wrong. This is implicit in the essence of the discipline/profession, and we must to some degree expect deviance to occur. Therefore, we must in all these cases turn every stone in order to see what could have been done differently, so that we get to have a child protection service which is developing all the time, a child protection service which even further strengthens Norway as the world's best and safest place for children to live."
In other words, Mr Hjermann thinks that representatives for the child protection system assuring us, while keeping their eyes closed to the realities of individual cases, that the system is fine, constitutes proof. And he thinks that Whewell of BBC, plus viewers around the world, will surely be satisfied and conclude that Norway has a child protection service which makes this the world's best and safest place for children to live.
Well, who knows, lots of people may bow to the assurances of one having had the experience of children's ombudsman. He may have underestimated BBC, however, as may also the Ministry's Mr Ostling, see below.
Some considerable naïveté and superciliousness ( – stronger terms even might be apposite) may be recognised in the attitude of this psychologist-ombudsman. But he is in fact hardly more extreme than the rest of our establishment in Norway. A degree of mania about "Norway Norway" has gripped them ever since we started pumping oil from the North Sea and got super rich.
('Norway's hidden scandal' continues in the District Court)
Mors advokat: - TV-seere i Sør-Afrika, Nederland, Tyskland og England har tatt kontakt etter BBC-programmet. (The mother's lawyer: – TV viewers in South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and England have made contact after the BBC program.)
Dagbladet, 10 August 2018
This article brings further details about the case of Inez in the program, from Tønsberg in Vestfold county, in which also the convicted child psychiatrist Jo Erik Brøyn has been involved as an evaluator. It links to an article back in 2016, with the title "The mother must admit violence she has been acquitted of before Barnevernet will consider giving the children back to her".
The municipality's lawyer Simen Tveten says, non-committedly, that he "understands" that the credibility of the now convicted expert is lessened.
The spokesman in Parliament for the Socialist Left Party (SV) on family politics, Freddy Andre Øvstegård, agrees with Hjermann, and says that Helleland's silence is "a betrayal of all the competent experts working in Barnevernet who are subject to massive pressure, and of all the children who depend on Barnevernet's protection." He also says (!) that Helleland should have answered that "Norway takes individual cases seriously and defends the important job the child protection service and the employeed do". To all the people who have experienced the "We cannot go into individual cases" reply when they in their despair have begged politicians to do something about the way Barnevernet has treated their cases, the two parts of Mr Øvstegård's statement contradict each other considerably.
And here is the assistant director of Bufdir (the section of the Ministry concerned with Barnevernet), Mr Kjetil A. Ostling, confirming that the state indeed, regardless of understanding that there is some "pressure", intends to continue the irresponsibility of refusing to do anything about individual cases:
"– As expert directorate for Barnevernet, we do not know individual cases and can therefore not say anything about them. Takings into care are often difficult and complex cases with a strong emotional commitment, and reticence should be shown in such cases both by the press and by individual persons."
Mr Ostling continues by venting a not-so-hidden contempt on those who criticise ("it is important to differentiate constructive criticism from personally perceived offences and special agendas") and on BBC, which has allowed "individuals with a strong and wellknown commitment against Barnevernet to make themselves heard".
(Expert psychiatrist convicted for downloading of abuse films: – Barnevernet should look at the cases again, says Commission leader.)
Den erfarne psykiateren var med på å bestemme om foreldre fikk beholde barna sine. Samtidig lastet han ned store mengder overgrepsbilder.
(The experienced psychiatrist took part in deciding whether parents should keep their children. At the same time he downloaded great quantities of abuse pictures.)
Aftenposten, 10 August 2018
Sounds nice that the Expert Commission on Children (ECC – Barnesakkyndig Kommisjon) takes the initiative to re-examine reports. However, the text makes clear that all they do is to check the reports against purely formal rules, and with the "self-evident" basis of a belief in the general competence and rightness of the decisions dished out by the ECC. They do not go into the facts of the cases. First of all, they would have to have all the case documents, and they do not have them. Secondly (very ominous to the whole psychological/psychiatric profession and to Barnevernet as a whole), they would have to go into the real facts, which would also imply talking with the private parties and valuing their truthfulness on the same level as they would have to do that of the Barnevernet industry. The basic problem is still there: All these people, and indeed the mainstream media in Norway, take it for granted that public employees are truthful and competent and that what they do is good for people.
Psychologist Katrin Koch, the leader of the ECC, is wonderfully revealing when she says;
" – There are about 25 cases for which I have gone into whether his assessmwents deviate from that of other members.
– It is a reasonable question to pose whether his general expert judgment ability has been influenced by his private situation. For examples if he has to a large extent taken the parents' side in abuse cases.
– I found nothing like that, his assessments are not generally different from those of the other members."
Exactly! They all come up with the same kind of assessments of whether children should be taken away from their parents. The only worry the people in the ECC can se regarding Brøyn, is whether he can be suspected of having sided with parents! And no mention of the dismal results which child protection care has – generally. General facts our generality-loving authorities otherwise speak of like automatons. Just not this one, however, they carefully avoid ever to mention it.
20 December 2014
Cf also the research referred to in this article:
(Child protection in Norway – The Befring Committee. The importance of international child protection research for the question of whether taking into care is in the best interest of the child)
7 June 2000
Hilarious Norway! Everything is all right, according to Katrin Koch and all the others, provided they all do the same and all think the same, and do not by any chance take parents seriously.
Here is Mr Ostling of Bufdir, in the same vein:
He is interviewed in Aftenposten too, and once again conveys that every aspect of the Norwegian system is excellent – in general. Very revealing of the general business of the Barnevernet industry on all levels is this statement, as to whether especially the cases in which Brøyn has taken part should be reconsidered:
" – We have not considered it, and have no basis for saying anything about it. At the same time we take note of the fact that the ECC has gone through a number of cases and have found that the convicted psychiatrist's assessments do not deviate from that of other members' assessments".
Ostling even has the courage to claim that
"– Generally there is a very high degree of security of rule of law in Norway. Cases involving taking into care are often tried before courts on several levels after being treated in the County Boards. All of these instances have thorough processes.
– A high expert quality on all levels of the case handling is to secure the children of rule of law and of security. At the same time faults may occur. Therefore, the services in the municipalities are also to be subject to quality control from the state's authorities and critical journalism."
Control from the state's authorities and critical journalism? Journalism critical of all information from anybody other than the state's authorities, journalism directed by Bufdir & co about what to think and say, and to, every time, accept that they will not "go into individual cases" but that they are all all right and that the system guarantees it?
It's like hearing functionaries of the state in Eastern Europe under communism talk.
These articles, especially seen together, make it quite possible for thinking people to begin to see the sorry reality of a destructive and oppressive system which Norwegian child protection is, from the bottom and up to the lacquered facade.