Update on the BBC documentary from Whewell:
BBC News, 27 September 2018
"Norway is set to review a series of controversial child protection decisions involving a prominent expert convicted of downloading hundreds of thousands of images of child sex abuse."
It remains to be seen how effective and sincere a review with the necessary accompanying investigations will be. There is, after all, nobody among the hundreds (or thousands, depending on the level of authority accepted) of experts working in or around this system who is independent enough of the underlying ideology of child protection, and with sufficient ability, standing and independence of the authorities, to carry out a proper investigation.
"Norway's child protection agency, Barnevernet, has come under attack from some parents and child welfare professionals who say it often takes children into care without adequate justification."
The use of "some" here suggests that they are few, perhaps scattered. This is not so, and the Brøyn case is no more controversial than a large number of other cases. It is a misunderstanding to think that the presence of an expert who has now been convicted of carrying out criminal activities while he at the same time assessed parents' suitability, is worse than a large number of such assessments carried out by other experts in the system every day.
"One mother, Cecilie, whose daughter has been taken into care said she was not optimistic about what the review would achieve."
Cecilie's prediction here is likely to be right.
"In June, the children and equality ministry told the BBC it could not comment on the case, and declined a request for an interview.
Now, after considering its "handling of this case during the summer", it has called on local authorities to look into the psychiatrist's past cases, and told the health supervision board to work out how that can be done with the involvement of parents."
It is not correct that the Ministry has ordered the review to be carried out with the involvement of parents. The Health Supervision Board is to consider whether parents should have any part.
"The Child Expert Commission, in which he was involved more recently, reviews some 750 welfare recommendations every year. The head of the commission, Katrin Koch, told the BBC in July that she had looked into some of his reports and found no cause for concern."
The members of the Expert Commission have exactly the same background and largely hold the same views as other psychologists/psychiatrists working in the child protection system. Katrin Koch, a psychologist who has herself been criticised strongly by people she has evaluated or acted for over her evaluations in a number of cases for more than 20 years, and who is now the head of the Commission, said in an interview that looking into 25 of Brøyn's reports, she had particularly looked for whether his assessments deviated from those of other Commission members, particularly whether he had been particularly lenient towards parents who had tendencies in the direction of sexual deviance. Koch said she had not found Brøyn's assessments to differ from others. This is not the same as there being no cause for concern.
Of course the psychological establishment sees no difference. The entire work of the Expert Commission is much the same. In reality it gives plenty of cause for concern, irrespective of whether Brøyn is the only sexual offender on the Commission. Does Whewell believe that the psychological establishment in Norway is all right, just with the odd rotten apple? Does he believe that the other members of the Expert Commission have more of a scientific, realistic basis than Brøyn for their assessments? Brøyn has apparently been quite fond of judging families negatively and recommending that they should be forcibly destroyed by the children being taken. But so have the other members of the Commission, much as all the experts around the country do every day.
The statements from Koch are in reality very revealing both of the Expert Commission and the authorities, and of Koch.
It is hard for the Ministry & Co to do what should be done because nobody centrally knows (at least they claim not to know and not to be able to find out) in which cases around the country Brøyn has been involved, and the affected families by and large do not know that the convicted psychiatrist is Brøyn. It is left to the municipalities to decide whether they want to find out from their own archives whether he has been active and if so, what his assessments have recommended. With what we know about municipalities' attitude to child protection: that it should be kept secret from everybody, it is unlikely that many of them will do a proper search. Besides, everybody is likely to claim that the important thing is whether Brøyn's assessments have been "unusual", not whether they have been realistic and fair. The usual in child protection assessments, as well as in the Expert Commission's examining of such assessments, is not realistic and fair. One might as well tear up the entire set of reports which keep thousands of children in confinement under the control of Barnevernet.
As far as Katrin Koch herself is concerned, it does not take much to be a better psychologist than she is, when she has especially looked for whether Brøyn has shown partiality to parents who have been into use of abuse pictures or other sexual aberrations. She should rather look for the extreme opposite. A person who hides his own nefarious activities is more likely to act particularly moralistic and censorious of such activities in others, to prevent anybody suspecting him of having the same tendencies himself.
" 'We didn't cross the finish line when we won,' Inez says. 'We still have to get family dynamics back and we have to co-operate with the Child Protection Service. They had my head on the block for five years. I'm willing to cooperate with them, but it's strange.' "
This is interesting information. The Bodnariu family got their children back on the same condition: that they should cooperate with the CPS. In practice, the CPS made their lives in Norway unbearable, directing them and bothering them unreasonably and continually. The Bodnarius then went to Romania for their summer holidays, and decided to stay there for good. The response of the CPS was to announce that they would transfer the case to Romanian CPS.
Whewell ends his article by referring to Minister Helleland, who says: "Where a conflict arises between the interests of the child and the parents, we shall be on the child's side. On this point I won't give an inch."
It is left to the reader to try and guess whether Tim Whewell and the BBC agree with Helleland. It is not at all certain that he does not think it is "objective" to hold both sides to be right on something, i.e to buy her judgment of CPS cases basically being conflicts between parents and children and the CPS serving "the child's best interest".