Tuesday, January 18

The school should have a greater, no less important role in protecting children from violence and abuse

  • Monica Sydgård

    Leader, Save the Children’s Norway program

It is deeply problematic to set the right to education against children’s right to protection against violence and abuse, writes Monica Sydgård (photo).

We must avoid life-threatening silo thinking.

This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

The school should have a greater, no less important role in protecting children from violence and abuse. Ignoring the school’s responsibility for the protection of children is a potentially life-threatening silo thinking where children fail.

Kristin Clemet, leader of the think tank Civita, warns on 6 January against forgetting that the school’s most important social mission is the education of all children, not to “protect them from their own families”.

She is right that a main reason for securing open schools in the face of infection control measures is all children’s constitutional right to education. But it is deeply problematic to pit the right to education against the right of children to protection against violence and abuse. The school also has an important social mission in this area.


The public report «Failure and betrayal»Came up with a crushing verdict on silo thinking in the public services that meet children. Children exposed to violence, abuse and neglect are not caught by the system. We do not benefit from various public services for children refining their mandates and thinking that “this is not my responsibility”.

The social mission of education must go hand in hand with the mission of preventing and detecting violence, abuse and neglect. One of the strong recommendations from “Failure and betrayal” was that children to a much greater extent must learn at school that violence and abuse are illegal and how they can get help. That children learn about violence and abuse is preventative. It provides an understanding of their own and others’ boundaries, and it allows children to tell if they are experiencing something that is not right.

The subject renewal also obliges the schools to give children competence about sexuality, boundaries, violence and abuse.

Competence boost

In a survey conducted for Save the Children, half of the teachers in Norway say that they have not received the guidance or teaching arrangements they need to be able to teach the children about these important topics. A majority say that they have too little competence to follow up on children they are worried about.

Save the Children is therefore calling for a national increase in competence in schools and kindergartens. This is how we ensure that even more children in our country get a safe upbringing where they develop their full potential.


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