Interest was great when the government invited foreign embassies to a meeting to correct the impression created by Norwegian child welfare abroad.
Over the past year, demonstrations have been held in several countries in protest of child protection in Norway. This was an important part of the backdrop when Foreign Affairs gathered embassies in Oslo to an information meeting on Wednesday.
“Norwegian child welfare has been repeatedly criticized, outside Norway as well. From international media, one might get the impression that Norway takes more children out of the home than other countries, and that families of foreign nationality or origin are particularly vulnerable. This is not true,” said minister of Children and Equality Solveig Horne in a speech to the audience.
A total of 65 representatives from around 50 countries participated. Most delegates who have an embassy in Oslo showed up, along with others with ambassadorial privileges.
One of the issues that triggered demonstrations against Norway concern a Norwegian-Romanian couple, residents of Naustdal in Sogn og Fjordane.
In November last year, the couple’s five children were removed from the home and the parents were charged with domestic violence.
Horne stressed in his speech that there is always a last resort to take the child out of the home against their parents’ will.
Statistics from the Council of Europe show that the use of such measures is low in Norway compared with other European countries.
“In the vast majority of cases, child protection services offered voluntary assistance for children and families. The assistance is usually given in the home. These cases are rarely discussed by the press,” pointed Horne.
Taking criticism seriously
The government is taking the criticism of child protection seriously, stressed the minister in a statement.
“It is also important to emphasize that the child protection is primarily a service and should always be working in the children’s best interests,” she says.
Children and Equality has also sent out guidelines to municipalities for child care where children are related to other countries. It should make matters easier for municipalities to handle, according to Horne.
Among other things, the guidelines state that child welfare services should always try to contact the child’s family abroad before starting a case concerning child care.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today