Inquiry Granskingsutvalget av Barnehjem i Kristiansand

Alternative Names
  • Kristiansand Inquiry
Inquiry Type
Regional inquiry by the municipality of Kristiansand. Fylkesmannen (governor) of Vest-Agder county was appointed to set up the commission.
Location
Norway; Vest Agder County

Key Dates

1 July 1954 - 31 December 1979
Period of investigation
2006 - 2007
Period of operation
30 June 2006
Announcement date
16 November 2007
Final Report

Details

The Inquiry was commissioned to investigate the practices of care and any events of abuse at six children's homes in Kristiansand. In addition, it was charged with examining whether the municipal, regional and national supervision of these institutions was performed in accordance with the regulatory framework. A particular focus was on the children of Travellers ('tatere') as one third of the interviewed care-leavers identified themselves or were identified as Travellers (some didn't know about their Traveller background).

The Process
The Inquiry was conducted through private session interviews and archival research.

Inquiry Locations
Norway; Vest Agder county; Kristiansand municipality

Private Sessions
The private session interviews were voluntary and could be disrupted by the informant at any time, however none of the former residents chose to disrupt their interview. Interviews with former residents were not recorded, but interviews with former staff were. The interviews were conducted by two members of the inquiry commission and the interviews lasted for 2 hours and 10 minutes in general. During a period of three months the commission was assisted by three external interviewers. The interviews were semi-structured and based on interview guides that had been used by previous regional inquiries in Norway. After the interview the ambition was that the team should send a written summary of the interview to the informant for reading and correction. However, this ambition was failed in an unknown number of interviews.

Case Studies
Each of the six children's homes are investigated in a case study. Each case study is structured around themes from both former residents' as well as former staffs' perspectives: 1) housing conditions 2) care practices (food, clothes, hygiene, schooling, toys, leisure, friends, contact with biological family, holidays and birth days, illness and medical supervision, duties) 3) emotional care 4) physical punishment and abuse 5) sexual abuse 6) supervision

Written Submissions
A few written submissions were collected by the inquiry, but for most part the inquiry was based on oral interviews.

Witnesses
In total 111 private interviews were conducted. 81 former residents of institutions in Kristiansand were interviewed, of these were 48 men and 33 women. In total 94 care-leavers were interviewed, but some of them had been placed at institutions that were not the focus of the inquiry or in foster care. 15 members of staff at the children's homes of Kristiansand were interviewed, as were 2 former chairs of the Child welfare board and one person hired by the PPT (they were not identified), and a telephone interview was conducted with a person who was hired by the governor from 1966 and onwards.

Gender
Of the 81 former residents of children's homes in Kristiansand, 48 men and 33 women were interviewed.

Institutions
6 children's homes run by private enterprises (the Salvation Army, philanthropic organisations, churches, Norsk misjon blant hemløsa [an organisation with the mission to assimilate Travellers].

Findings
Practical Care: The inquiry came to the conclusion that with reference to the standards of the time food and clothing was satisfying at the institutions, whilst harsh discipline around meals, poor monitoring or assistance of schoolwork, poor integration of the children with the local community, poor stimulation of children, and lack of contact with biological family was blameworthy.

Emotional Care: The inquiry put forward that lack of emotional care as the most suffered aspect.

Physical Punishment and Abuse: The practices of punishment varied due to the management of the institution. At some of the institutions severe abuse was identified.

Sexual Abuse: The inquiry identified sexual abuse (peer to peer) as more common at one institution, but was reluctant to draw conclusions about sexual abuse since information was given by singular witnesses.

Supervision: The inquiry concluded that the municipal child welfare board didn't adhere to the regulations of how to perform visits or the numbers of visits each year. The governor failed his responsibilities as well, however the Social ministry adhered to their responsibilities.

The Travellers: The inquiry concluded that apart from Travellers' children having even less contact with their biological families than others, Travellers' children were not discriminated in relation to other children.

Further Action
A redress scheme was established on 21 October 2007 when the inquiry was still operating.

Related Inquiries
This Inquiry is related to other previous regional inquires in Norway. The following are specicifically mentioned in the report: Bergen inquiry, Oslo inquiry, the ongoing inquiry in Rogaland, the ongoing inquiry in Trondheim and the national inquiry NOU 2004:23.

Inquiry Panel

Countries

Publications

Final Reports

  • Jarvoll Hekneby, Anita, Rapport fra Granskingsutvalget av barnehjem i Kristiansand. Rapport till Fylkesmannen i Vest-Agder, Kristiansand, 2007., 2007. Details

Acknowledgement: this summary was prepared by Johanna Sköld, Linköping University