Children’s houses established in Norway
A year and a half after the first children’s house was established in Norway, almost 700 children who have been exposed or subjected to abuse have received assistance, care and treatment at children’s houses nationwide.
“I am pleased to be able to confirm that the children’s houses are functioning as intended, and that children who are exposed to violence and abuse are now receiving all the help they need at one and the same location,” says the Norwegian Minister of Justice, Knut Storberget.
To improve the assistance and treatment services for children who live in the midst of domestic violence, the government has established children’s houses throughout the country. The children’s houses have initiated the use of new methods and techniques for interviews and medical examinations that are less invasive for children. The staff covers several fields of expertise and contributes to ensuring that the child does not have to be moved from one instance to another in order to tell and retell his or her story.
Norway hosts the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice this year and in connection with this, Storberget has shown the children’s house in Tromsø to his European colleagues.
“We must create a broad international consensus that we as Ministers of Justice have a responsibility to combat domestic violence. In addition to increased sentences, initiatives such as the children’s houses are the best we can do to strengthen the legal protection of children who are exposed or subjected to domestic abuse,” says Storberget.
Facts and figures from the children’s houses:
The children’s house in Bergen was opened on 1 November 2007. In 2008, the children’s house registered 184 children who directly received services from the children’s house, primarily concerning criminal conditions, reported to the police. Included in this were 153 judicial examinations. Additionally there were 118 consultations. Of these, 81 concerned sexual abuse, 18 violence and four witnessing violence, as well as 22 that concerned other miscellaneous situations. In 2009, during the period up to 14 May, 122 children were registered as having received direct assistance from the children’s house. During this period, 97 judicial examinations were carried out. This indicates a clear increase in the number of cases at the children’s house this year.
The Hamar children’s house was opened on 18 December 2007. In 2008, the children’s house carried out 70 judicial examinations. 120 consultations were dealt with. In 2009 during the period up to 20 May, 55 judicial examination were carried out and about 55-60 consultations dealt with.
The Trømsø children’s house was opened in March this year and has carried out 50 judicial examinations and four medical examinations. The consultation team has dealt with 20 consultations where 30 children were involved.
The Trondheim children’s house was opened in February this year. Until now, 32 judicial examinations have been carried out, mostly from the Sør-Trøndelag area. The children’s house has also dealt with about 30 consultations.
The Kristiansand children’s house has assembled its staff and will shortly be ready to receive the first children.
Further reading: Fact sheet on the children’s houses