Inquiry Gransking av Skole-og Barnehjem i Aust-og Vest-Agder

Alternative Names
  • Inquiry into School and Children’s Homes in the Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder Counties
Inquiry Type
Municipal inquiry in Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder Counties. Fylkesmannen (the Governor) of Vest-Agder County was appointed to set up the commission.
Location
Norway; Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder County

Key Dates

1930s - 2004
Period of investigation
2007 - 2009
Period of operation
December 2007
Announcement date
9 March 2009
Final Report

Details

In December 2007, the County Governor of Vest-Agder appointed a public committee to investigate children's homes and school homes in Aust-Agder and Vest-Agder (Investigation Committee II). The previous Investigation Committee (I) conducted an investigation of the practices of care and any events of abuse at six children's homes in the municipality of Kristiansand and submitted a report on 16/11/2007.

The new Committee's mandate was to examine possible neglect and abuse of persons who had been placed in children's homes or school homes in Aust-Agder and in Vest-Agder. The investigation dealt with municipalities that chose to collaborate with the investigation and which had the placement responsibility for the children.

The purpose of the investigation was to examine: whether children at the institutions had been subjected to physical and sexual abuse; whether there were serious shortcomings with the practical and emotional care the children were offered at the institutions; and whether
municipal and state supervisors did not perform their duties in relation to the institutions.

The Process
The Committee conducted its work through private session (interviews) and archival research. The members of the Committee also visited most of the institution buildings.

Governing Legislation
The review was conducted in accordance with "Veileder om kommunale granskinger av barnehjem og spesialskoler for barn med atferdsvansker" (Guidelines for municipal investigations of children's homes and special schools for children with behavioral disabilities) published by BLD in January 2006, and under circular G-48/75 of Justice and Police Ministry, dated 4 March 1975 on "Rules for Investigation Commissions".

Governing Authority
Fylkesmannen (the Governor) of Vest-Agder County.

Inquiry Locations
The Inquiry had an office in Norway; Vest-Agder; Kristiansand.

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. All of the former residents of the institutions contacted the Committee on their own initiative. Some former employees were contacted by the Investigation Committee regarding the possibility of being interviewed. However, former residents who did not contact the committee themselves were not consulted.

The interviews took place in the Committee's office in Kristiansand. In some cases, the Committee visited other places if it was difficult for informants to come to the Investigation Committee's office. In a small number of cases, the interviews were conducted by telephone.
There were normally two members of the Committee who conducted the interviews. The interviews were semi-structured and based on an interview template. The interviews lasted from 40 minutes up to three hours. After the interview, a transcript was printed and sent to the interviewee for any corrections.

Case Studies
The Investigative Committee undertook case studies of each institution and each institution is the subject of a chapter in the report.

Witnesses
In total 100 persons were interviewed. 85 of the interviewees had lived in children's homes or school homes in Aust-Agder or Vest-Agder. The average age of interviewees was 50 years. The Committee also interviewed 15 employees, of which 3 were Directors.

Gender
37 women and 48 men who had lived in children's homes or school homes in Aust-Agder or Vest-Agder were interviewed.

Institutions
The investigation dealt with a total of 11 institutions, 3 in Aust-Agder and 8 in in Vest-Agder.

Findings
Practical and emotional care: The Inquiry found that in the period up to the 1970s, children's homes had little understanding of the importance of individual care of children. In many of the children's homes there was a pronounced attitude that the employees should not associate themselves with the child. Former employees at the institutions described long working days with significant emphasis on practical tasks related to the operation of the home. Two thirds of the children who were interviewed explained that they experienced the care they received as either bad or practically absent. For example, food and eating conditions were for many associated with harsh discipline.

Physical and sexual abuse: 48 of the 85 former residents reported that they were beaten or punished physically while staying at the institutions. 22 also reported that they were exposed to sexual assault during the time they lived in the institutions. The assaults was spread throughout the investigation period and affected most of the institutions.

Supervision: Supervision of the institutions was a requirement since the late 1940s, but it was difficult for the Committee to decide how thorough supervisory practices were. Rather, it appears to have more been more a formality. The Committee located several supervisory reports from the 1980s and beyond, which appeared to reflect that the supervisory task had begun to be taken more seriously from that time.

Recommendations
No recommendations were made.

Chair

Countries

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

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