Sandra Barjaktarevic Midbøe
Member, Save the Children’s Member Board
For far too many children, the home is anything but a safe haven.
This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.
“What is it that drives the debate in a direction that makes homes such a dangerous place?” Kristin Clemet asked this question in her Sunday comment in Aftenposten on 27 December. She addresses many different issues, but mixes two groups with very different needs.
The speech of the numbers is clear
Violence against children can be physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence or neglect. Until 1987, parents had a so-called “right to punishment”. Then this was abolished, all corporal punishment for disciplining and raising children fell within the definition of violence.
Uevo (Adolescents’ experiences of violence and abuse in adolescence) is a national survey of adolescents aged 12 to 16 years. according to the report that came in 2019, one in five children has been subjected to domestic violence at least once.
The same survey shows that 5 percent of all children in Norway have “experienced serious physical violence such as being kicked or beaten by an adult in the home”. 20 percent have experienced psychological violence from their parents. One in twenty children has experienced sexual abuse.
The school must recognize signs of violence
“The school’s primary task can not be to protect children and young people from their own families,” writes Clemet. The statement is characterized by the fact that she believes that the school is given too much responsibility regarding the upbringing of children, which is an important and not least political issue. But Clemet seems to confuse this question with whether the school has a responsibility to catch and help children who are exposed to violence at home.
The fact that one in five children has experienced violence at home is an alarmingly high number. Not because it necessarily means that all these children are dependent on school to achieve a satisfactory quality of life. But for some children, the conditions at home are traumatic.
What children have the opportunity to do with their own situation is very limited
Regardless of whether this in reality applies to one in five or one in twenty children, it must be a priority for schools to be educated and trained in recognizing signs that children are being exposed to violence. Because you know what? Only about half of children who are victims of violence have told it to someone. Only one in five has been in contact with a professional helper, such as a health nurse or child welfare worker.
In order to be able to prevent and stop violence against children, knowledge among those who work with children in particular is one of our most important tools.
The responsibility of adults
Children who do not feel well at home are without a doubt one of our most vulnerable groups. What children have the opportunity to do with their own situation is very limited. And it is the adults’ responsibility to uncover violence against children.
The question of how involved the school should be in children’s upbringing must not be confused with the school’s and other arenas’ responsibility for capturing children who do not have satisfactory living conditions at home.
“Fortunately, the home is still a safe and good haven for the vast majority, even at Christmas,” writes Clemet. But unfortunately, the home, for an excessively high number of children, not a safe haven. And we must work to change that.