Department of Education and Lifelong Learning

Challenging Rights – Children ‘at risk’ and their encounter with state agencies

Child facing away from the camera looking out a window with hands behind his back. Photo.

Organizers: Marit Ursin and Ida Marie Lyså

Venue of seminar: Norwegian Centre for Child Research (NOSEB), Department of Education and Lifelong Learning (IPL), NTNU, Trondheim

Date: Tuesday 17 April 2018

Time: 09:00–16:00

Place: Litteraturhuset in Trondheim, Kongens gate 2         

Children and youth encounter state agencies under diverse circumstances. They might be witnesses of serious offences. They might be victims of serious offences. And they might have committed serious offences. What we know is that young people with disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds are overrepresented within all three categories. We also know that there is often not clear-cut divisions between these categories: Children and youth in one category have a greater chance of experiencing the others as well.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) ensures a wide range of rights to all children, including those in vulnerable positions. Yet which routines, rules, and regulations do we have to guarantee the implementation of children’s rights when young people are witnesses, victims, or offenders of injustice and crime? What competence and skills do governmental and non-governmental agencies have to engage with, listen to, and protect children and youth who experience difficult life circumstances in contemporary Norway? Ensuring children’s rights in their encounters with state agencies is often challenging as the cases are complex and different stakeholders have diverging views of what is in ‘the best interest of the child.’

In this seminar, we will listen to the experiences of young people about their encounters with state agencies, and learn about the perspectives, policies, and practices of governmental and non-governmental agencies. Presenters are Juvenile Justice Professionals (Justisproffene), representatives of the Change Factory (Forandringsfabrikken), the Children’s Lawyer (Barnas Jurist), the Children’s House Trondheim (Barnehuset), and investigative journalist Thomas Ergo who worked on the series of reportages about teenage girl «Ida» and her experiences of being in the custody of the Child Welfare Services.

This seminar is organised by the Norwegian Centre for Child Research as part of the annual course BARN3102 Children’s Rights. The overall aim of the seminar is to learn about and critically reflect on policies and practices related to the implementation of the UNCRC. More specifically, the seminar links academic perspectives and debates to policies and practices of state agencies and NGOs, promoting a fruitful dialogue between different organisations and actors — civil society, researchers, and students enrolled in the MPhil programme in Childhood Studies.  

Photo: Marit Ursin

Programme 17 April

09:00  Children’s rights in the encounter with state agencies: Opening words by Marit Ursin and Ida Marie Lyså

09:30 Marit Sanner from the Change Factory (Forandringsfabrikken) and Juvenile Justice Professionals (Justisproffene)

11:00 Coffee Break

11:15  Kjell Olav Tømmeraas from the Children’s House Trondheim (Barnehuset)

12:15 Lunch

12:45  Thomas Ergo from Stavanger Aftenblad

14:00 Coffee Break

14:15 Carsten Smith Elgesem and Håvard Nybakk Vang from Children’s Lawyer (Barnas Jurist)

15:15  Discussion

16:00  Finished

[Name of proff], The Juvenile Justice Professionals (Justisproffene)
Marit Sanner, the Change Factory (Forandringsfabrikken) 

Head of the Change Factory and factory worker. The Change Factory cooperates with children and young persons (aged 10-22) from all over Norway. The Change Factory invites children and young persons in schools, child care, mental health care, correctional services and hospitals to tell about their experiences and opinions on relevant matters. Most children/young persons join in as professionals as part of a project and are able to take part in education and political impact work.

Kjell Olav Tømmeraas, Children’s House (Barnehuset)

Tømmeraas has a background in child welfare and child and adolescent psychiatry. He has worked at the Children’s House since 2016. The establishment of the Children’s Houses was the first step in the Strategy Plan for Domestic Violence 2008-2011. The Children’s House includes multidisciplinary competence centres, and are part of a project between the Ministry of Justice and the Police, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, and the Ministry of Health and Care. The work of the Children’s Houses encompasses six core activities: Judicial (forensic) interviews; Medical examinations; Treatment/Follow-up/Prevention; Advice/Guidance and Professional development; and Information/Education. The Children’s Houses have qualified police personnel specially trained in interviewing children as part of criminal investigations.

Thomas Ergo, Stavanger Aftenblad

A journalist in the investigative department of Stavanger Aftenblad. Ergo has worked over 25 years with social journalism and legal protection of vulnerable groups in society. Together with his colleagues, he received Den store journalistprisen [the grand journalism award] for their work 'Glassjenta' (The glass girl), a series of reports about a teenage girl, Ida, and her experiences with being in the custody of the Child Welfare. These reports led to a range of new measures within national and local institutions working with vulnerable children.

Carsten Smith Elgesem and Håvard Nybakk Vang, Children’s Lawyer (Barnas Jurist)

Carsten Smith Elgesem and Håvard Nybakk Vang are students at the Faculty of Law and have worked as prosecutors in Children's Lawyer since the start-up 18 months ago. Children's Lawyer is a project under the Street Lawyer project. They provide free legal aid for children and youth up to 25 years with the aim to help children and youth meet their basic rights. They approach children and youth where they are though outreach activities, for instance at the addiction clinic for young people at Rikshospitalet, the introduction program for refugees at Grünerløkka, Ung Arena, and the National Association for Prevention of Suicide and Self-harm.

Organizers of the seminar: 

Marit Ursin, Associate Professor

Ida Marie Lyså, Course Coordinator

Nadja Berg Aune, Seminar Administrator, Apprentice

Norwegian Centre for Child Research at Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, NTNU

Contact Information NOSEB

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