Inquiry Omsorg og Overgrep: Granskning av Barnehjem, Skolehjem og Fosterhjem Benyttet av Trondheim Kommune fra 1930-årene til 1980-årene

Alternative Names
  • Care and Abuse: Inquiry into Children’s Homes, School Homes (Boarding Schools) and Foster Care used by the Municipality of Trondheim from the 1930s to the 1980s
Inquiry Type
Regional inquiry by the municipality of Trondheim. Fylkesmannen (the Governor) of Sør-Trøndelag County was appointed to set up the commission.
Location
Norway; Sør-Trøndelag County

Key Dates

1930s - 1980s
Period of investigation
7 November 2005
Announcement date
1 January 2006 - 8 May 2007
Period of operation
8 May 2007
Final Report

Details

The municipality of Trondheim took the initiative to establish a local investigation. In October 2005, the County Governor of Sør-Trøndelag appointed a public committee to investigate children's homes, school homes and foster homes where the municipality of Trondheim had placed children in the period between 1954 and 1986. In November 2005, at the request of the Trondheim municipality, the Committee's mandate was amended with the purpose of not putting a time limit on the earlier period to be investigated. The Committee therefore abandoned the original demarcation of 1954. The period of investigation subsequently became approximately 50 years: the oldest testified about conditions at an institution 1937, while the youngest testified about the conditions in 1985.

The Trondheim investigation was designed differently from the previous Norwegian investigations (Bergen, Oslo, Rogaland and Trondheim), although all were concerned with care and abuse in child welfare institutions used by the municipalities. For Trondheim, it was not specified which institutions should be examined. Nor was it considered necessary to review the supervision and enforcement of children in institutions. It was emphasized that the Committee was only tasked to investigate homes that were identified via informants. Although the approach taken in Trondheim therefore differs from previous Norwegian inquiries, its key focus, as with other inquiries, was past care and abuse.

The Process
The Committee conducted its work through private session (interviews) and archival research. It held 34 meetings. These included a meeting with the Chairman/Secretary of the Inquiry Committee in Rogaland, as well as the secretariat for the Inquiry Committee in Oslo. Meetings were also held with the National Archives, the archives in the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Ministry of Education (Stensrud/Bolstad). An inspection was also conducted at Stavne / Osloveien school.

Governing Legislation
The inquiry was established under Circular G-48/75 of Justice- and Police Ministry, dated 4 March 1975 on "Rules for Investigation Commissions".

Inquiry Locations
Norway; Trondheim

Private Sessions
Private session interviews were voluntary. Prior to the interview session, participants were provided with information about the Committee, how the interview would be conducted, and the themes the Commission was especially interested in hearing about.

The interviews took place in the Committee's office in Trondheim. In most cases, two members of the Committee conducted the interviews, with the preference of interviews being conducted by Committee members of different genders. During interviews with former employees, the entire Committee participated. Interviews typically lasted for approximately three hours. After the interview, a transcript of the interview was printed and sent to the interviewee for any corrections.

Case Studies
Three of the institutions were assigned a separate chapter in the report as case studies. One chapter is devoted to "Other institutions".

Witnesses
The Committee interviewed 95 informants. 77 of the interviewees had lived in institutions when they were children. The majority of informant presented themselves to the Inquiry. However, 15 of the former employees were contacted by the Inquiry Committee.

Gender
Gender is mentioned in the Committee's report. It was noted that the municipality lacked children's homes for children between 1 and 3 years and had difficulty placing boys over 10 years of age. Finding foster placements was also problematic older boys. Interviews revealed that older boys were placed at Stavne School because the municipality could not find space for them in children's homes. A theme that emerged from the interviews with people placed in institutions was that it experiences were more positive when girls and boys lived together during their upbringing.

Institutions
The main focus was on three institutions: Finnes barnehjem, Lykkebo barnehjem and Stavne skole. Each is discussed in separate chapters in the report. One chapter is devoted to "Other institutions" and one chapter is devoted to "Foster homes".

Findings
Children's homes and school homes: At one of the children's homes in particular, the Committee found that it was understaffed and that there was a lack of education. Care was mostly collective with little consideration given to the individual child. Emotional care was deficient, was not much room for intimacy, comfort and attention. Overall, the practical care of children appeared sufficient. However, teaching and homework had shortcomings. Some witnesses testified that they experienced physical and sexual abuse. At the second children's home examined, the practical care was found to be relatively good. The Committee concluded that systematic physical abuse did not take place.

The Stavne Osloveien observation school was initially for boys, but by the end of the period a small number of girls also stayed there. During the first part of the time period heavy work was at the expense of education. There was little opportunity for play and there was not much interaction between employees and children. Physical abuse and sexual abuse occurred during the entire period, but especially during the earlier period, where there were cases of serious violence.

Foster care: 30 foster children were interviewed by the Committee. Many testified to the investigation committee that the homes were bad. As within the children's homes and school homes, many testified about physical, mental and sexual abuse. Several people interviewed noted that discipline was very strict in the homes. Foster children often had to work, mostly on farms. Some testified that they were not as highly valued as the children in the family. In practice, this meant that they were required to undertake more duties, they received less benefits and food that was inferior in comparison to the food provided to the children of the family. However, the Committee also heard stories about good homes, and several of the informants have kept in touch with their foster families.

Recommendations
The Committee did not make recommendations.

Further Action
In connection with the Committee's work, the municipality of Trondheim provided offers of psychological support to the informants and set up support groups for them. The County Governor of Sør-Trøndelag also offered free legal aid.

Related Inquiries
Granskingsutvalget for barnevernsinstitusjoner i Bergen. Rapport Juni 2003.

Granskingsutvalget i Bergen. Erfaringsnotat Oktober 2003.

Granskingsutvalget for barnevernsinstitusjoner i Oslo. Rapport Desember 2005.

Granskingsutvalget for barnevernsinstitusjoner i Rogaland. Rapport Juni 2006.

NOU 2000:12 Barnevernet i Norge.

NOU 2004:23 Barnehjem og spesialskoler under lupen.

Publications

Book Sections

  • Ericsson, K., 'Children's Agency: The struggles of the Powerless', in Sköld, J., & Swain, S. (ed.), Apologies and the legacy of abuse of children in 'Care' International perspectives, Palgrave Macmillian, Basingstoke, 2015. Details

Final Reports

  • Omsorg og overgrep: Granskning av barnehjem, skolehjem og fosterhjem benyttet av Trondheim kommune fra 1930-årene til 1980-årene      , vol. 1 of 1, Trondheim, 2007. Details

Journal Articles

  • Bolstad, T., & Tjeldflott, T., 'Overgrep og omsorgssvikt- Granskinger av barnehjem, skolehjem og fosterhjem', Norges Barnevern(, vol. 4, 2008, pp. 26-44. Details
  • Ericsson, K., 'Tause vitner eller varslere?', Tidsskrift for velferdsforskning, vol. 17, no. 1, 2014, pp. 2-16. Details
  • Hanssen, H, 'Abuse and neglect in children's homes in the past - Implications for social work and social policy today', IUC Journal of social work theory & practice, vol. 15, no. 3, 2007/2008. Also available at http://www.bemidjistate.edu/academics/publications/social_work_journal/issue15/content. Details

Acknowledgement: this summary was prepared by Joel Löw, Department of Child Studies, Linköping University