Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Norwegian Child Protection and its Critics

NEW REPORT: Comparison of the Norwegian child protection system and the systems of five East European countries.

The Norwegian child protection system (CPS) has been the target for criticism across Europe. In particular, the criticism from countries in East and Central Europe has been evident.

The Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism has, on assignment by the Norwegian Ministry for Children and Families (BFD), written a report with the purpose of identifying characteristics of the Norwegian child protection system compared to the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Russia.

Differences between the systems

The report reveals that there are overall huge differences in the functioning of general governmental systems, protection of children´s rights and living standards, when comparing Norway to the selected five East-European countries. In Norway it is a lower threshold for service provision in the Norwegian child protection system, compared to the child protection system in the other countries concerned.

Comparing the statistics for children placed out of home and adoptions from care, it is evident that the Eastern European countries analyzed here have a far higher prevalence of intrusive child protection interventions than Norway.

The report also reveals that the post-communist countries are undoubtedly influenced by their socialist legacy, especially with regard to children living in institutions. While Norway has most children in foster homes, the other five countries still have a high number of children living in institutions.

Towards more similarity

However, the CPS in the eastern-European countries are rapidly changing. Recent legislations and reforms in for example Romania and Russia, reveal that  the countries are seemingly turning towards Norway’s family-service orientation.

The report is edited by research assistant Trond Helland, with contributions from Dr. Katre Luhamaa. The report is available open access via the link below.

Helland, Trond (ed.) (2020). A comparative analysis of the Child Protection System in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania and Russia. Bergen: Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism, University of Bergen.


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