‘A place in my heart’ for children

Norway’s new chief advocate for children was preparing this week for her new job that she’ll take over in June, and clearly looking forward to it. Dr Anne Lindboe, a pediatrician who’s worked extensively with children’s rights and cases of child abuse, is Norway’s fifth barneombud and appointed by King Harald to serve for the next six years.

Dr Anne Lindboe will take over as Norway's new advocate for children's rights in June. PHOTO: Regjeringen.no

“My background as a pediatrician and the tough experience I’ve had with children subjected to violence has done something with me,” Lindboe told reporters after her appointment was formalized on Friday. “These children have a place in my heart.”

Lindboe has been a doctor at Oslo University Hospital – Ullevål and carried out research at the state public health institute (Folkehelseinstitutt). She also works with the state-run Barnehuset, which works with abused children, and is often involved as a court-appointed medical expert in child abuse cases that wind up in court.

She was selected by the government minister in charge of children’s issues, Inga Marte Thorkildsen, who was dealing with her own challenges this week after involving herself in a case of child abuse. Thorkildsen got help from a panel of eight children in the screening process of finalists for the job now being vacated by Reidar Hjermann, who had served the maximum of two six-year terms. The children clearly supported Lindboe, who admits to having some childish traits herself.

“If I didn’t I probably wouldn’t be here today,” she told newspaper Aftenposten. The 40-year-old Lindboe said she started working with children towards the end of medical school and had “good contact” with the young patients.

“It was almost as if they chose me, not the other way around,” Lindboe said. “They opened up to me, and I viewed that as a great sign of confidence. After that, it was clear I would be a pediatrician.”

She admits to having handled “many painful cases” involving child abuse. It’s illegal in Norway to even spank a child, but Lindmoe said “extreme violence is unfortunately an everyday experience for very many children in Norway. There’s a lot more of it than you’d think. There’s violence that borders on torture in some cases, and it’s almost coincidental that the children have survived.”

Lindmoe has three children herself, aged 10, eight and two. In addition to being a mother, she now thinks she has “the most important job” in Norway.

“Children are the most valuable resource we have,” she told Aftenposten. Giving them optimal conditions while growing up and creating strong, secure children means everything.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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