With the tragedy in Kėdainiai district, some Lithuanians are now asking how the Norwegian child welfare service, Barnevernet, would have responded to such an incident and what Lithuania could learn from Norway’s approach.
© Vida Press

If neighbours in Norway inform Barnevernet of violence or alcoholism in a family, social workers first talk to the children. “We ask the child about what he thinks, is he or she scared, and the like,” said Fredrikstad Child Protection Services Manager Anne-Beth Brekke Tvedt.

A woman who is being subjected to violence by her spouse is asked if she would like to get a place in a home for a mother and child. “If she refuses and argues that she wants to remain living with her violent husband, we should protect the child. Then we search for another place for the children. In any case, it is unacceptable when a child lives in a family where there is violence and alcohol abuse,” said Tvedt.

Tvedt said the mother would receive medical and psychological assistance and would be consulted on where to temporarily accommodate her children. She said, it should be ensured that children know the family that was temporarily accommodating them - it could be someone from their immediate family.

It appears that social workers who visited the family in Kėdainiai did not notice the violence and alcohol problems and according to Tvedt, in Norway, adolescent children could sue such social workers for not noticing such problems. In the case of such a tragedy, there would be an analysis by Norwegian authorities of whether the problem should have been noticed by their kindergarten, school or health agency.

Throughout the long history of work in the Fredrikstad Child Protection Services, Manager Tvedt does not remember seeing a similar tragedy. According to her, there have been cases when men killed their wives, but not their children.

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