Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Are children in Norway sufficiently protected?

PUBLICATION: Skivenes and Falch-Eriksen identify possible blind spots in the Norwegian child protection system.

The Norwegian child protection system is set to protect children who experience detrimental care or the risk thereof. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), protection is a right to each child within the jurisdiction of the signatory nation-state.

Article 19.1 in the CRC clearly states a wide area where ‘children have a right to protection, namely from “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse”.

Right to Protection

Marit Skivenes and Asgeir Falch-Eriksen (OsloMet) have examined how the Norwegian state upholds its obligation to protect at risk of harm as a matter of right. The results are published in the chapter “Right to Protection” in the book Children’s Rights in Norway. The book is edited by Malcolm Langford, Marit Skivenes and Karl Harlad Søvig.

In the chapter, Skivenes and Falch-Eriksen first analyse how the legal-administrative bodies with responsibility for protecting children in Norway function, and how they relate to CRC Art. 19.1. The authors then discuss five possible blind spots to the Norwegian child protection system.

Possible blind spots

The findings reveal that possible blind spots in the Norwegian child protection system include:

  • The challenge of pluralism – the case of migration
    • Is child protection sensitive enough to “the pluralism of care”with regards to migrant parents?
  • Strong discretionary authority and the principle of equality;
    • Are children experiencing equal treatment in equal cases, and unequal treatment in unequal cases?
  • Education and best practice
    • Is the length and content of the education of child protection workers sufficient?
  • Liberty of the child and the basic interest of the child as an adult
    • Is the system designed so that children can manage to live a good enough life once adulthood is reached?
  • The voice of the child
    • Are children properly included as participants in child protection cases?

Skivenes and Falch-Eriksen argue that there are indications that the Norwegian child protection system has blind spots that cast doubts on whether children in Norway are sufficiently protected, and if the system is sufficiently grounded in the normative purpose of the articles of the CRC. They conclude that their findings indicate a need for improvement in the Norwegian child protection system.

The book chapter is an open access publication:

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