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Ensure that no one is left behind abroad

Children left behind abroad forced marriage teenage birthChild marriage and teenage births are keeping girls out of school in many places, including in Africa, Asia and the US. Photo: Unicef


Summer holidays are approaching. Ensure that children are not left behind abroad

The Norwegian Government asks schools for help to prevent children from being left behind abroad after the summer holidays. “We are concerned,” Norwegian Minister of Knowledge and Integration, Jan Tore Sanner (Conservatives), states.

The Norwegian government warns against negative social control, forced marriage and female genital mutilation in a letter to all municipalities, county municipalities and county governors of Norway.

“We are concerned that children who are going on holiday abroad are disallowed a return home to Norway. We find that a few seats are unoccupied at school start, every year. Schools and other services that are in contact with children have an extraordinary responsibility to prevent children from being left behind abroad,” Minister of Knowledge and Integration, Jan Tore Sanner, explains.

Negative social control, genital mutilation and forced marriage are very serious matters. Everyone who lives and resides in Norway has the freedom to decide over their own lives. The work to combat negative social control is a high priority to the government. It requires adequate cooperation between agencies and across borders.

Employees in the services must take action in the event of concern

“We must all do what we can to help the children and youngsters who are at risk. Everybody who works closely with children and adolescents has a duty to report to the child welfare service in the event of serious concern. Good cooperation between the school, child welfare services and other services can prevent children from being sent abroad against their own will or being forced into marriage during the summer holidays,” Minister for Children and Family, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, concurs.

If employees of the school or others suspect that a child or a youngster is at risk, the school can implement several measures. The most important thing is to talk to the pupils in question. If the school needs more expertise or support, they can contact the Competence Team for Forced Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and Negative Social Control for advice. The two Cabinet Ministers also urge people to seek advice from one another. A teacher can, for example, get good advice from a school nurse.

Encourages giving advice not to travel

it is limited what the Norwegian authorities can do if a person already residing abroad asks for help – even if that person is a Norwegian citizen.

“The most important advice we can give if you are worried is: Don’t travel! Ask for help, you are not alone,” Sanner implores.

The government requests that the emergency response letter be communicated to ensure that more people are extra attentive in the time leading up to the summer holidays. Be it-primary and secondary schools, the follow-up services, the health service and school health services, general practitioners, mental health services, the NAV offices and the child welfare service.



Cases that concern negative social control are increasing in numbers

Several lower and upper secondary schools have their own minority advisors who provide advice and guidance to vulnerable students at schools with a high proportion of pupils with minority backgrounds.

In the annual report from the Integration and Diversity Directorate, minority advisors at 23 secondary schools report a total of 279 new cases, divided among different types of problematic issues. This is an increase of 40 cases, about 17 per cent, from 2017. The increase is mainly related to cases of negative social control.

“One of several measures that the Norwegian government has implemented against negative social control, forced marriage and female genital mutilation are more minority advisors. It is important to have a low threshold service, where young persons can easily turn to adults that they can trust. Many minority advisors also work preventively. We, therefore, recently strengthened the scheme. More minority advisors and more expertise mean that several cases are discovered,” Sanner concludes.

There are currently 38 minority advisors deployed at five secondary schools, 23 secondary schools and at two guidance centres in Norway.

An increase in the number of cases involving persons who are left behind abroad

There are integration advisers stationed at the foreign service missions in Ankara, Amman, Islamabad and Nairobi since 2008. They reported 214 new cases in 2018, up from 180 cases in 2017. This means an increase of 34 cases, about 19 per cent, from 2017.

The largest increase applies to persons left behind abroad, with 43 additional cases. There were 107 cases in total last year alone.

© #Norway Today
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