The 2.february 2005, 8 years old Christoffer Kihle Gjerstad was beaten to death by his step father. As time has passed and both the step father and the mother has been sentenced for the crime, the momory of little Christoffer still lives in all Norwgian hearts for a long time to come.
Many Facebook pages, blogs, websites and organisations has arised since Chrisoffer’s death, and the focus on childrens rights are growing. But still many children, in Norway and other countries, are re-living little Christoffers experiences. Why?
In Norway we see it time and time again; people are too scared to report to Barnevernet, which is the Norwegian department for the protection of children. Why? Still today in 2013, there are no laws in place protecting the witness. If the case goes to court, the name of the person who reported the concern, will come out.
Anonymous people are often not taken seriously by Barnevernet, and schools and kindergartens are not allowed to be anonymous when reporting to them.
Of couse we do not want a society where neighbours tell on each other through Barnevernet because of some old neighbour dispute. But without a protection of the witness, one cannot expect people to tell on someone else’s possible child abuse. The risk can be too high, as if in the worst case scenario, the abuser might want “revenge” and could take his or hers frustrations out on the reporters child(ren).
The discussions around Bernvernet as been going on for years. Situations where they have been too late to act, and situations where they have taken children out of good homes “by mistake” are many. Is it the childrens rights or the parents rights they are working for?
A law who protects the witness or person reporting, a better Barnevern system, and better qualified Barnevern staff is essential if the protection of Norwegian children is going to get better.
The step father of Christoffer was sentences to 8 years in jail. Is this a fair sentence for such a heartless deed? Do we really want him out again in 8 years? Is jail going to change him, so that he will not repeat the history?
What is your opinion?