SRSG commends child centered approach promoted by Norwegian Children’s Houses in dealing with incidents of violence against children

Oslo (Norway) 26 May 2013 - From 23 to 27 of May the Special Representative conducted an official visit to Norway. The visit took place on the occasion of the Parliament’s review of the governmental White Paper on violence in the family and in close relations. The White Paper, developed by the Ministries for Children, Health and Justice provides a significant evidence base to inform more targeted and effective prevention and services to those affected by violence in the family and close relations, including vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

High level meetings were held with the Minister for Children, Equality and Integration Inga Marte Torkildsen, the Minister for Health Jonas Gahr Støre and Secretary of State Gry Larsen, as well as with the Ombuds for Children, representatives from the Ministry of Justice, from the Police and from the “Children’s House” (Barnehuset), a one stop centre where a multidisciplinary team supports child victims of violence and abuse.

The Parliament held an important seminar on the White Paper during which the SRSG highlighted global developments, good practices and major challenges hampering the protection of children from violence around the world and addressed strategic focus areas where enhanced action should be undertaken in Norway. Two significant areas were particularly highlighted: the need for enhanced articulation and coordination between relevant services that address and respond to incidents of violence; and the need for enhanced data collection and analysis of children’s exposure to violence, including sexual abuse. The Special Representative also recommended that the White Paper be available in English to stimulate policy developments in other parts of the world.

The Special Representative took special interest in the experience of the Norwegian Children’s Houses, which have helped to make bridges between a wide range of services, such as forensic interviews, medical examinations, treatment, counselling and follow-up for child victims and their families. The Children’s Houses also provide information, support and capacity building for professionals in schools, child care centres, the Police and the justice sector. The Children’s Houses keep the child’s best interest at the centre of their concerns and are guided by children’s recommendations.

One such fundamental recommendation is: “don’t forget to help the grown ups if you want to help the child”.

Important working sessions were also held with the Norwegian Committee for UNICEF, with Plan Norway, in addition to media encounters.