The Council of Europe asks Norwegian Child Welfare Services to become better at helping minority families

Child baby crib teddy bearPhoto: NTB

The Child Welfare Service must build trust and become better at helping minority families, the Council of Europe recommends. They also ask Norway to focus on trans people in the new action plan.

In recent years, many child welfare cases have gone to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and Norway has been involved in several of them. 

The court is part of the Council of Europe, and now the Norwegian Child Welfare Service has also been mentioned in a discrimination report from the Council.

The Commission against Racism and Intolerance has said that the Child Welfare Service must strengthen its efforts to help families with a minority background. 

It is pointed out that it is important to maintain contact between children and parents and avoid serious interventions such as placement in a foster home with little or no contact, and adoption against the parents’ will. 

The report points to a lack of trust in the Child Welfare Service within minority groups and says that this also affects the relationship with kindergarten, school, and the health service, which has a duty to report to the Child Welfare Service.

Language and support

When taking over care, the Child Welfare Service is also encouraged to place children in families with a similar cultural background. The Commission has pointed out that this is in line with the commitment to work to make family reunification possible. 

Reference was made, among other things, to a case in which a boy was placed in a Christian family, even though the mother was a Muslim and wanted her son to be brought up in line with her religion. Another case that is highlighted is where contact had to take place in a Scandinavian language instead of the child’s mother tongue.

Minority children’s language skills are also given a place in the report. The authorities are encouraged to carry out early mapping of language skills and targeted help in kindergarten to ensure that the children have good enough Norwegian skills. The Commission has asked Norway to work for more children with a minority background to start kindergarten early.

In addition, they have asked for more support in school to reduce the difference in results for minority children and prevent students from dropping out of school.

Gender identity

The Norwegian authorities are also recommended to develop an action plan for LGBTI people – lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, and intersex people – and look specifically at the latter two groups. 

The Commission advocates for more knowledge among most people and the training of health nurses in schools. In addition, they want gender identity in rules on anti-discrimination, hate speech, and hate crime.

In a separate item, the Commission has also asked for rules that explicitly prohibit the government and parliament members from using hate speech in or outside political institutions.

Progress against hate crime

The report also welcomes more progress made since the previous review in 2014. This includes better collection of statistics on hate crime and increased police efforts in this field.

At the same time, the report points out that the police register almost six times as much hate speech as a few years ago. In 2019, there were 250 registered hate crime cases, including the mosque attack in Bærum, where the perpetrator first killed his Chinese-born step-sister. 

The Council of Europe continues to recommend efforts to prevent and detect radicalization and to eliminate illegal racist and extremist online content. The authorities should also introduce laws to dissolve racist organizations or parties, the Council wrote.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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