Organized protests baffle Barnevernet

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After yet another wave of organized international demonstrations over the weekend against Norway’s child welfare agency Barnevernet, both agency officials and top politicians appear baffled and frustrated over how to respond. “We take the criticism seriously, but so much of it is simply not rooted in reality,” a state secretary for the conservative Progress Party told news bureau NTB.

Kai-Morten Terning, part of the political leadership of the Norwegian ministry responsible for issues involving children and equality, suggested that it was difficult for the state to defend itself against claims being made around the world that are blatantly false. “It’s important for us to try to correct what’s being claimed,” Terning told NTB. “But some of the criticism coming from abroad has no basis, such as claims that Barnevernet kidnaps children, and other harsh and unsubstantiated accusations.”

Well-coordinated but ‘secret’ campaign
It’s also challenging to get to the source of such claims, which state officials are left to fend off and even many critics of Barnevernet within Norway admit are outlandish. The demonstrations appear well-coordinated and supplemented by an active promotional and media campaign, which has included sending photos to media outlets from around the world. Organizers, believed to be conservative religious groups that have mobilized their followers, clearly seek as much publicity as possible for the roughly 60 demonstrations held during the weekend in around 20 countries.

Alf Magne Henriksen, one of the local demonstrators in Oslo, told NTB that “we have gathered people through social media” and that he was part of a group that hoped to do away with Barnevernet. He wouldn’t identify, however, the other groups with which his own was alligned. “That’s a secret,” he told NTB. “But it won’t stop here. We won’t stop demonstrating until Barnevernet is put down.”

The demonstrations thus look set to continue, from Sydney to Bucharest to Oslo itself. They began last fall after child protection authorities from Barnevernet removed five children from a home in the county of Sogn og Fjordane, after their Romanian-Norwegian parents were charged with domestic violence. It’s illegal to physically punish children in Norway, and there have been other cases where children have been removed from homes where they’ve been beaten or worse.

Culture clash
In many cases involving immigrant parents, the cases have resembled culture clashes. Physical punishment that’s accepted in other countries is not accepted in Norway, and Barnevernet is charged with upholding the law.

State politicians will thus continue to defend Barnevernet, while Barnevernet officials have little choice but to continue doing their jobs, and face criticism that more often is hurled at them in Norway when they fail to remove children from abusive parents or other sources of violence. Berglund

  • frenk

    The Norwegian state has no right to interfere/control/manipulate ‘normal’ family life…

    • Zincoshine

      well the children who have been removed aren’t experiencing normal family life insofar as Norwegian law is concerned.

      • jamesnorway77

        Bor..way is hardly normal is it..

      • frenk

        Yes….but Norway is not a ‘serious country’…..

  • Hermann Oberth

    Your article is complete crap madam, and myself as an American but not religiously affiliated beyond Easter Mass whole heartedly believe that this case has brought to light a deep flaw in the Norwegian state and bureaucratic system that could commit such a heinous act to this family.
    Secondly it is clear you are pushing an agenda here by simply giving quotes from the state and implying that this is something to do against Barnevernet. You do a shitty job of trying to defend them by not giving the other side of this argument.
    Clearly this is an extremely biased article and you should be ashamed of this writing.
    Barnevernet needs oversight, needs judicial controls and most importantly it needs reform. Children need to be protected, but in this case they need to be protected from the state!

    • richard albert

      Herr Oberst,

      Persönliche Angriffe auf den Editor sind nicht nur nicht gefordert, sondern geneigt sind allgemein Sympathie zu entlocken für gleiche. Entschuldigt, wenn mein Deutsch ist noch schlimmer als Ihr Englisch.

  • Klaus

    This article is unfortunately giving very little information of the case of the Romanian-Norwegian family. The parents of the family admitted that they occasionally spanked their children. But although the children were thoroughly examined at a hospital, no physical harm was detected. If the parents promise that they will no longer spank their children, they should be returned to their parents. Has Barnevernet ever asked the children of the Romanian-Norwegian family, if they want to be returned to their parents?

    Why is it usually the first step of Barnevernet to separate the children from their parents even before any investigation has been made?