Letter to the people of Norway

We are writing you, in order to clarify certain aspects in relation to the international protests against the abusive practices of Barnevernet, as they have affected the Bodnariu family whose 5 children were abruptly separated from the parents and the other hundreds of families that have experienced the terror of this organization. Thousands of people have peacefully protested against this abuse in over 22 countries and in over 30 cities such as Washington D.C., Bucharest, Oslo, London, Barcelona, Dublin, Frankfurt, Ottawa, Roma, Torino, Hague, Madrid, Milano, Prague, Moscow, Vienna, Chișinău, etc. and many more will follow (last weekend over 4000 people protested in Suceava, Romania). Unfortunately, the Norwegian press/media decided to turn a blind eye and ignore the protests and even when mentioned, they were quickly categorized as baseless.
The media decided to focus on the “Christian indoctrination” aspect, and quickly dismissed the charge without any in debt investigation (simply asking Barnevernet is not an investigation). We would like to bring to your attention some of the things that have determined thousands of people all over the globe to stand in cold weather, waive signs, collect signatures, and protest in front of Norwegian embassies by hundreds and thousands, embassies who refused to even acknowledge the presence of the protesters (with the exception of Washington).
First, we would like to clarify that as parents and grandparents we are against any form of violence against children. Although some of us believe that the Norwegian law as it pertains to child protection is in some cases ambiguous leaving room for absurd interpretations, we respect and appreciate your willingness and monetary effort to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, the children. Also for the sake of eliminating confusion we will not include the “Christian indoctrination” charge as it pertains to the Bodnariu family. A simple investigation would have revealed that Barnevernet had previously raised issues with the Bodnariu parents as it pertains to their theological teachings, and that the first documents they were given included the charge of “Christian indoctrination” (accusation which was later not included in the final charges). But we’ll leave that discussion for another time. We would also like to appeal to your honesty and ask that you do not exaggerate the statements of the Bodnariu parents. Yes, indeed they confessed that in very rare cases they used light physical punishment such as a swat on the rear (spanking), and we understand the illegality of their action in regards to Norwegian law, but to call them child abusers requires exaggeration and dishonesty.
Since the Norwegian media (with very few exceptions) has refused to do any detailed investigations into the abusive practices of Barnevernet we felt the need to give a hand to the Norwegian journalists and list some of the areas we are concerned about, and for which we are protesting:
• The most important area of concern is the validity, unsupervised and abusive nature of Barnevernet investigations. In the Bodnariu case, as in many controversial cases, their only evidence were the confessions and misinterpretations obtained from a child. Barnevernet ran extensive medical exams on all children, including brain scans on the 3 months old baby (exposing him to dangerous levels of radiation) and found zero medical evidence of child abuse. The Bodnariu parents were pushed hard by the Barnevernet agents to admit to events of dangerous physical abuse that were false (in the process they used coercive practices asking the mother to confess to untruthful events against the father in order to get her children back). Not only did they refuse to believe the parents, they refused any testimony from neighbors, close family friends and people that lived in their house who all testified that the Bodnarius were great parents and that they never saw them abuse the children. But yet looking at previous dirty practices used by Barnevernet we can arrive at the conclusion that the testimony obtained from the girls was coerced. We can suspect the use of leading questions (suggestive questioning) and tiresome interrogations, up to the point when one of the girls said “I am tired, I don’t know what else to make up”. We bring to your attention just one of the hundreds of studies that show that children can be made to say anything the interrogator wants, and that once such a false event is “planted” in their mind, the testimony of that child can never be considered reliable (http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projec…). Furthermore we bring to your attention a concrete Barnevernet example where one of the renowned awarded psychologists, Mrs. Turid Kavli, uses prolonged and coercive interrogation techniques to obtain a false confession from a young girl (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPj…). It took this victim 12 years to prove her father’s innocence. How many years will the Bodnariu parents have to wait for the truth to come out? How many families have been victimized by these fraudulent interrogation practices? We also protest that the children’s testimony was obtained during an interrogation that took place without the participation of a lawyer, representing the parents, to ensure that rules and regulations governing interrogations of a minor were honored.
• Another major area of concern is Barnevernet’ s decision to take a nursing 3 month old baby from the mother’s breast, together with the other 4 siblings and to split them in 3 separate houses far away from the parents. We wonder how moronic must one Barnevernet agent have to be to even suggest such a practice. What level of lunacy is required to think that the separation of the siblings is a good idea? This research released by the Child Welfare Information Gateway organization is just one of hundreds of such studies pleading that siblings be kept together (https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDF…). Given the unscrupulous amount of money in the Barnevernet system, there is no excuse why those children shouldn’t have been kept together. Does one not understand the damage that it is done to these children not only by the separation from the parents but compounded by the separation from each other? Additionally, Barnevernet’s refusal to place the children with immediate relative family is a grave violation of ethical human standards. The Bodnariu family has immediate relatives willing to take the children either in Norway or in Romania, yet Barnevernet chose to inflict even more pain into the children by placing them with total strangers and 2-4 hours away from their parents. This study provided by Providence College clearly shows that separating siblings results in higher levels of problematic behavior and adjustability issues in the placement home (http://digitalcommons.providence.edu/… ). Why do Barnevernet agents ignore even the basic tenants of psychology? How is it morally comprehensible to separate a breastfeeding mother from her 3 month old baby? Why haven’t the parents been allowed to see their daughters in the presence of Barnevernet agents? How can the parents physically abuse the girls with the Barnevernet agents present? Does Barnevernet not understand the lifelong psychological trauma that is inflicted on these children? This type of evil actions result in life long psychological trauma and it is one explanation why this study shows that children in the Barnevernet system are 8 times more likely to commit suicide than children in the general population (http://www.nibr.no/filer/2005-12.pd… )?
• Another major reason for our protests is Barnevernet’s destructive practice of removing children from family rather than helping the parents to improve. The Bodnariu parents in particular were never warned or made aware of any potential physical abuse. They were never given a chance to show that they are loving parents, instead, their parental rights were brutally decapitated. The Norwegian ambassador to Romania, Mrs. Westberg, as well as all other Norwegian ambassadors released propaganda statements stating that Barnevernet only removes a child in cases of grave negligence, physical and sexual abuse. A look at the 2012 statistics shows us that from 8.288 removal cases, only 510 were taken for physical abuse and 139 for sexual abuse, meaning less than 8% of the total (http://www.barnevernsaksjonen.no/at… ). This is in complete contradiction with the embassy propaganda. Furthermore, statistics from the same year show that the number of children removed from their families grew from 5,5 per 1000 in 2005 to 7,6 per 1000 in 2014. That is an absurd increase of almost 40%! Coordinated with a decrease in the number of children receiving assistance in the family, even the statistics website admits that this can be viewed as a shift from a child welfare service aiming at improving living conditions in the family, to a welfare service more ready to remove the children (http://www.ssb.no/en/barneverng ). Furthermore, deputy Inga Marte Thorkildsen, proudly proclaimed in 2013 that the biological principle (of keeping the children and parents together) should have no weight in their decisions (http://www.nrk.no/valg2013/_-jeg-fo… ). How an “advanced” country such as Norway was able to arrive at such an imbecilic psychological conclusion (which stands in contrast to any international human rights law), is beyond comprehension.
• It is unfortunate that Norwegian media has chosen to ignore the unjust practices of Barnevernet, including the alarms raised by respected people in the field. But from the little documentation available, we have found psychologists, professors, and lawyers that have spoken strongly against Barnevernet, but their voices have been ignored.
o In the summer of 2015, lawyer Thea Totland criticized Barnevernet’s microanalysis of parental care approach (http://www.abcnyheter.no/nyheter/20… ), which result in erroneous psychology reports and recommendations that are then the deciding factor of whether a parent can keep their child or not.
o Marianne Haslev Skånland from Bergen University, has accumulated a list of such absurd observations made by Barnevernet psychologists during the microanalysis of parental care, and the list includes statements such as “The daughter does not like fish-balls. This is a clear sign of incest” (http://www.mhskanland.net/page10/pa… ).
o Barnevernet’s corrupt practices were also exposed recently by a group of 150 Norwegian professionals (doctors, lawyers, psychologists, and child welfare staff) whom sent out a worrying message to the children welfare minister. The letter warned that in many cases there was a rattling discrepancy between the skills of the Barnevernet agents and the authority given to them to exercise their power towards the affected families (http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/i… ). The concerned professionals noted that the opinions of the Barnevernet psychologists largely prevail in tribunals and courtrooms, while alternative observations and hypotheses are completely disregarded.
o The Barnevernet system is most strongly criticized by psychologist doctor Sverre Asmervik, which states that in 90% of the cases, the opinion of the expert assessment is reflected in the decisions and judgment of the court. One can therefore say that the experts often become the de facto judges (http://www.advokatbladet.no/2015/05… ). The judges are reluctant to overrule the psychologist’s opinion and therefore they ignore any other form of evidence.
o Brennpunkt conducted a detailed investigation and found unethical practices amongst the psychologist hired by Barnevernet. Their survey shows that over half of the psychologists who take assignments for municipalities in child welfare cases, also takes assignments for the rights board, which constitutes an ethical conflict (http://www.nrk.no/dokumentar/xl/bre… ). They criticize the secrecy of the system and the fact that there is no verification mechanism to ensure that the psychologists are impartial in their reports and not corrupted by the money stream from Barnevernet contracts.
o The list continues with the accusations of one of Trondheim’s most prominent lawyers, Venil Katharina Thiis (http://www.adressa.no/nyheter/trond… ). She states that since 1991 to 2009 she was only able to win 2 cases against placement care at the county board (her first case and her last case). Among other critiques she states that “I think Barnevernet should be replaced by a new system. There must be a system built on a completely different principles”.
o There are too many people to list here, so we’ll stop with mentioning family doctor Jacob Christian Norup, whom also criticized and protested against the indecent practices used by Barnevernet agents (http://www.bt.no/nyheter/lokalt/–F… ).
We have listed just a short list of many unjust/unethical Barnevernet practices, but at the same time we have heard that there are many Norwegian families that want to speak up but are afraid of negative repercussions in their cases. We have heard many times that Barnevernet intimidates the parents not to make the case public. Or are we the crazy Romanians, Polish, Czechs, Russians, Lithuanians, Indians, Americans, etc. the only ones to expose and protest the corrupt Barnevernet system? Oh no, actually one day, the Norwegian citizens of Samnanger finally had enough of Barnevernet’s abuses and took to the streets in protest (http://thirdseconds.org/barnevernet… , http://www.barnevernsaksjonen.no/ ). Other than some bogus reports, did the regional administration do anything to fix the root of the problem? No! Finally, even Solveig Horne the head of Barnevernet admitted in 2013 to a distraught Norwegian parent (who stated that the psychological damage his children went thru is reprehensible) that Barnevernet has its own interpretation of Norwegian law (http://www.abcnyheter.no/nyheter/20… ). What has Mrs Horne done to fix the issues? Pretty much nothing.
In conclusion, I ask the Norwegian press to stop ignoring the thousands of people that have participated so far in international protests and the thousands more that will continue to protest. No we are not deranged parents that have nothing better to do than abuse our children. Quite the opposite, we love our families, we love our children and we think that the family is sacred not only before man but most importantly before God. We are desperate friends and neighbors that can no longer stand and watch the grief of loving parents, such as Bodnariu parents, grief that buries them day by day, until there will be nothing left. We can no longer stand and watch how a house that once was full of laughter is not a living grave. Dear Norwegians, where is your pity? Where is your compassion for the crying children, for the distraught parents? What evil soul must you Barnevernet workers poses to be able to rip apart loving families day and night? How can you claim that such destructive practices are in “the best interest of the child”? Enough is enough, make it stop! Norway return the children to their families!
(NOTE: I thereby give you permission to publish the contents of this letter. I would suggest for you to include a link to this original post, just in case rectifications are required)
References:
Norwegian professionals that have criticized the system and are fighting for change:
Thea W. Totland (lawyer): http://www.totland.no/
Sverre Asmervik (psychologist): https://www.facebook.com/sverre.asm…
Einar C. Salvesen (psychologist): https://www.facebook.com/einarcolum…
Grethe Nordhelle Grethe Nordhelle: http://www.nordhelle.no/
Nothing has changed, same system, same abuse:
Barnevernet Cases:
The Nordic Committee for Human Rights – NCHR report:
Other cases and articles related:

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