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Current Page: World | Friday, September 28, 2018
Norway Returns Son, Daughter to Mom After Psychiatrist Is Convicted of Child Porn Charges

Norway Returns Son, Daughter to Mom After Psychiatrist Is Convicted of Child Porn Charges

Undated file photo shows the Norwegian flag. | (Photo: Reuters)

The Norwegian government has agreed to review several cases of children who were separated from their parents following the recommendations of a psychiatrist who was later convicted of child pornography crimes.

Additionally, at least one family impacted by the disgraced psychiatrist's recommendations has been reunited with their two youngest children about five years after they were removed from the home.

Norway's child services agency, Barnevernet, has faced backlash for removing children from the homes of their parents for what critics say are arbitrary reasons that have in the past sparked international protests.

The BBC produced a documentary last month focusing on the plight of two mothers whose children were removed after recommendations from the convicted psychiatrist, who served on Norway's 14-member Child Expert Commission. The commission is responsible for reviewing hundreds of child welfare recommendations nationwide each year.

In April, the psychiatrist (who has not been named by BBC), who played a key role in the separation of several families in Norway, was given a two-year sentence and had his license withdrawn for downloading thousands of child porn videos and photos over a 20 year span. The psychiatrist is appealing his sentence.

On Thursday, BBC reported that the government is now taking steps to review cases impacted by the disgraced doctor. The news comes after the Board of Health Supervision had previously stated after the 56-year-old psychiatrist's conviction that it would not re-examine his previous cases.

But according to BBC, Norway's Ministry of Children and Equality recently called on local authorities to review the psychiatrist's previous cases. The ministry has also called on the Board of Health Supervision to figure out how these cases can be reviewed with the parents involved.

"I think we are going to assess every case if possible," Borge Tomter, the health supervision board's head of child welfare, told BBC.

Tomter did not know how many cases need to be reviewed.

In July, the head of the supervisory Child Expert Commission, Katrin Koch, told BBC that she looked over some of the convicted psychiatrist's past cases and didn't see any reason for concern.

As previously reported, two mothers impacted by the psychiatrist's recommendations, named Inez and Cecilie, were featured in BBC's documentary "Norway's Silent Scandal."

A Norwegian mother named Inez speaks with BBC in the "Our World" documentary titled "Norway's Silent Scandal" that aired on Aug. 4, 2018. | (Screenshot: YouTube/BBC Newsnight)

Inez Arnesen, a mother of eight from southern Norway, had her four youngest children removed from her home in September 2013 after it was reported that there was abuse in her home. Arnesen claims that she did smack one of her children but it was to get the child to stop biting one of the other children.

Although spanking and physical punishment in Norway is a crime, Arnesen was later acquitted in 2016. Two of her children were released following the acquittal but her two youngest were kept in government custody.

Fortunately for Arnesen, her two youngest children — 11-year-old Christian and 12-year-old Vendela — were returned to her in August after five years of separation in light of the conviction, according to BBC.

"We didn't cross the finish line when we won," Arnesen was quoted as saying. "We still have to get family dynamics back and we have to cooperate with the Child Protection Service. They had my head on the block for five years. I'm willing to cooperate with them, but it's strange."

Cecilie, who lives in Oslo, had her daughter removed several years ago because of concerns about the girl's development and concern that the mother was neglecting the daughter. A team of health experts (including the psychiatrist) visited the home and determined that the daughter's development would be limited if she remained in the home. The mother contested the conclusion reached by health experts and said the claims made against her are distorted.

"That expert, he is the one responsible for taking my daughter away and then it turns out that he has himself has committed crimes against children," Cecilie said in the documentary. "I think what has happened is wrong. It has had very grave consequences on my life.'"

Arnesen told BBC that the recent decision to review the cases that involved the disgraced psychiatrist is welcomed news but warned that it needs to be done by "someone from outside the system who can look at each case with fresh eyes."

Cecilie is not optimistic the review will have the desired effect.

"I'm not very hopeful," she told BBC. "They want people to see that they are doing something, but they are not eager to do it."

The Christian Post has reported on other parents who have had their children removed by Barnevernet. One case involves American-born mother Amy Jakobsen Bjørnevåg, whose son, Tyler, was taken from her by Barnevernet in July 2013 when he was 19 months old. 

The mother claims that her son was taken from her because of a weight issue stemming from the fact that she was having trouble getting Tyler to stop breastfeeding and eat solid foods. Although Tyler is now over 6 years old, Bjørnevåg still hasn't regained custody of her son and hasn't been told where he's being sheltered. 

In 2016, thousands participated in demonstrations at Norwegian embassies across the globe after five children were removed from the home of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu over allegations they spanked their children when they needed discipline. The children were returned to the home months later. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmithFollow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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