Inquiry Rapport fra Granskingsutvalget for Barnehjemmene i Finnmark

Alternative Names
  • The County Commission to Inquire into Children’s Homes in Finnmark
Inquiry Type
Regional inquiry established by the municipality of Finnmark. Fylkesmannen (the Governor) of Finnmark County was appointed to set up the commission.
Location
Norway; Finnmark County

Key Dates

1 August 1954 - 31 December 1992
Period of investigation
4 October 2007
Announcement date
4 October 2007 - 25 September 2008
Period of operation
25 September 2008
Final Report

Details

In 2007, several of the municipalities in Finnmark requested that the County Governor establish a committee to review the conditions and conduct in children's homes in the County. In October 2007, the County Governor of Finnmark appointed a public committee to investigate possible neglect and abuse of persons placed in children's homes in the Finnmark County during the period 1954-1992. The investigation was limited to the period under which the Child Protection Act of 17 July 1953 was in force. The duration of the Act was from 1 July 1954 to 31 December 1992.

The purpose of the investigation was to examine: whether children may have been subjected to physical abuse of a sexual or violent nature; and whether there were serious shortcomings in the practical and emotional care the children were offered at the institution.

Due to the limited archival material of the children's homes and their supervision, the Finnmark Committee was based on a simplified structure where the primary mode of investigation was interviews with adults who had formerly been in children's homes in the municipality. Advertisement for the investigation in Finnmark were placed in national newspapers and regional newspapers in Northern Norway, in both Sami and Norwegian.

The Process
The Committee conducted its work through private session (interviews). Some archival research was also undertaken.

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

Inquiry Locations
At the request of the County Governor, the Social, Child Welfare and Refugee Service in the municipality of Vadsø undertook to be the secretariat of the Committee. Due to the geographical spread of the informants, interviews were conducted at hotels in Tromsø, Alta, Vadsø, Bodø, Oslo and Tønsberg.

Private Sessions
The private session interviews were voluntary and could be disrupted by the informant at any time. Of the 43 people that contacted the Committee, 25 agreed to be interviewed, of whom two later advised the Committee that they were unable to attend. Of the remaining potential informants, most did not want to meet for an interview. However, several contributed to the Committee's work with written submissions and other materials.

Before the interview the informants were provided with information about the interview and were advised that it would be anonymous. The Committee used a fixed template for the interviews. The duration of the interviews varied. The shortest was approximately 50 minutes and the longest was 6 hours, but they usually lasted between 2-3 hours. Two members of the Inquiry Committee attended the interview. One of the attending member was always the psychologist.

Written Submissions
10 informants chose to send written statements instead of participating in an interview.

Witnesses
43 people who were former children's homes residents contacted the Committee, of whom 23 were interviewed. No previous employees made contact with the Committee.

Gender
Gender was not a key factor in the Committee's report.

Institutions
The Committee investigated 5 children's homes. Four of the children's homes were owned and run by Christian organizations. One home was owned by the state, but run by Norway's Sami Mission.

Findings
Physical and sexual abuse: The Committee concluded that there had been physical abuse of a violent and sexual nature and that there were serious shortcomings in the children's homes in Finnmark. Children at all five children's homes had experienced sexual abuse. In four of the homes, employees were the perpetrators of the abuse and older children with problematic sexual behaviours subjected younger children to abuse. Informants provided details about the extensive use of physical punishment for three of the children's homes.

Emotional and practical care: In two of the children's homes, interviewees offered descriptions that made the Committee conclude that there had been serious deficiencies in care. Lack of close adult contact was described in four of the children's homes. Lack of supervision of children's activities was described in three of the children's homes. Poor follow-up of the children's schoolwork or other matters related to education were also described to the Committee. On the other hand, the Committee received evidence that there were employees who took good care of the children, so the Committee found that the overall care provided to the children in the homes was variable. There had been both negative and positive aspects of care. For Sami children, placement meant that they could not speak their language and they were assimilated into another culture.

Supervision: The Committee found few supervisory reports and other information about the oversight of the homes in public archives. The Committee came to the view that the evidence indicated that the supervision arrangements were deficient and did not function properly.

Recommendations
Although the Committee's mandate did not include follow-up from the municipality, it recommended the establishment of a compensation scheme, based on the same principles as the "Stavanger Model". The Committee considered that all municipalities in Finnmark should participate in such a scheme. In the opinion of the Committee, the state should contribute to the financial compensation paid by the municipalities.

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

  • Rapport fra Granskningsutvalget for barnehjemmene I Finnmark, vol. 1 of 1, Vadsø, 2008. 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