This is part 2 in a series about what I see as problems in the society many have desecribed as perfect. Read part 1 as well.
What is an A 4-man or an A-4 family?
In the Norwegian language A 4 is a popular term for a standard. In this case it means you fit the description of what a conventional man or family should be. I think there are norms or expectations of what a Norwegian should be, and if you don’t yield to authorities, or the prevalent norm, there’s going to be trouble. How dare you choose a different life?
I’ve written a lot about child protection recently, and now there are also some lawyers who speak openly about a Child Welfare Service out of control. There are in fact a growing number of cases where children are taken from their parents without any help being offered to the family first, and/or because the help offered was not needed and was therefore refused.
The TV network NRK reported a couple of weeks ago that the Norwegian county of Sør-Trøndelag will conduct audits of the family center Viktoria in Trondheim. This happens because 20 families have complained. These families believe they never got the help they were promised. One of these families is a young teenage couple that went to this center for help, but their baby was taken from them at the age of 2 months. Now the father of the child has been granted custody, nine months later. This is one of many cases that could have been resolved differently.
The Child Welfare Act states a number of specific remedial measures, including a support family (the child could spend brief periods with another family), day care place, and measures to stimulate the child’s leisure activities, financial support in the form of cash, kind, or services. It is my experience that these measures are not used much. The responsibility for child protection is shared between the municipalities and the state. The economy of the municipalities most likely decides what they are willing to do. Regarding the State’s responsibility it is divided between the Ministry of Children and Equality, Child, Youth and Family Affairs, the County and the County Committee for Social Affairs, and the Ministry has primary responsibility for overseeing child protection. That sounds messy.
I’ve been reading this type of news in recent weeks, and have had an impression that low income, nationality and young age, made the parents, and thus the children, especially vulnerable in many of these cases. One of the two lawyers who were interviewed by NRK said the same. This is a translation of two quotes by Arnhild Skretting from an NRK-article:
– We are heading towards a society where, if you don’t have the right skin color, if you are a young mother or if you have been in child welfare-custody yourself, we’re taking your kids away from you as well.
– Often, children are placed in foster homes without anyone in the closest family being considered. This practice must stop.
I read about another case, which the Russian ambassador in Norway himself got involved. It was about a Russian/Lithuanian family, and two of the children were removed without warning and without any further investigation after a friend of one of the daughters in the family said that the children were abused at home. Read about the case on the Voice of Russia.
It’s beginning to dawn on some politicians too that the child welfare service is out of control. Member of Parliament for the progressive party (FRP), Morten Stordalen, wants child welfare workers and psychologists to be licensed and have the risk of losing their accredidation if they abuse their power or break the law. He admits that parents under the current system can lose their kids, as a penalty, if they refuse the assistance measures proposed by the child welfare service, even if no abuse or neglict is proven.
I have also previously written about the fact that this can happen anyway, if the parents request assistance. Many municipalities don’t offer the services Bufetat say they do, so the only option left is to remove the children. When that happens, it’s very hard to get them back. There should be some rules that the child welfare service must adhere to. Here are a handful of suggestions:
- Do not place the child in another county. It seems to me that there’s a conscious will to break the bond between parent and child as quickly as possible, even though the goal should be to bring the child back to the family.
- If it’s a question of money the municipalities should get state earmarked funds for support programs. That way the funds to help families can’t be used for anything else.
- The Child Welfare Service should first try to find relatives as foster parents; really try.
- Do not place children more than an hour away from family or other relatives. Siblings should be together and in as large groups as possible. If there are 5 siblings it will be difficult, but 2-3 together should be possible. According to research, foster children who have grown up with siblings, do better as adults than those who have been split.
- Get cases faster through the court system. This means that the child welfare service must finish its investigation faster, and they must be made to document better.
- Removing the children should be the last resort, after one has tried everything else, but it is often the first and only step
I conclude as I began, with the question of what an A-4 family is. It seems that the child welfare service’s response to my question would be that it doesn’t include the young, the poor and other nationalities (I’m not sure it has to do with skin colour, anything different is bad). So what if someone is not A 4? If A 4 is required, this will come to be a growing problem because the monoculture some seem to think Norway still is, is not coming back. We are getting new cultures all the time, and Norwegians choose the lifestyle that suits them best. I’m planning to write about immigrants and the welfare service next, and there are many cases of the authorities stealing children because the family is different. In a democratic country, people are free to choose the lifestyle they want, as long as they do not harm others. The government really needs to clean up this mess!