Statsrådens åpningstale på Barneombudets høynivåmøte om vold mot barn

Grefsenkollen restaurant 24. april 2017.

Your Royal Highness, Madam Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen.

First of all, I would like to thank The Ombudsman for Children for organizing this high level meeting to end violence against children.

I am also delighted that Mr. Sethi from the World Health Organization is with us here today. I look forward to your presentation. 

We have an enormous task ahead of us. Violence against children is an issue of critical importance. This is a topic that have concerned me for many years as a politician.  

Almost every day, cases of violence and abuse make headlines in the media – both here in Norway and in countries around the world. 

Violence has devastating and long lasting effects on individuals, communities and societies. It is a significant public health problem, and passes often on from one generation to another. It can mark a child for life.

Last year I met with an expert group of children who had experienced violence, or witnessed their mothers being victimized. This meeting made a strong impression on me.

One of their clearest advice was that adults must ask. They could not understand why adults did not dare to ask children about violence and abuse. They also reflected on the fact that adults should learn that hitting children is forbidden.

The best way to end violence is to prevent it from happening in the first place. I strongly believe that early help, guidance and support to families and parents, can prevent violence, and also prevent more serious intervention from the authorities.

Later this year we will launch the first national strategy on good parenting, where new preventative measures will be outlined. 

In October last year, the Government presented before Parliament a new escalation plan to prevent violence and abuse. This proposition contains 88 initiatives, anchored across four ministries, the voluntary sector, and local authorities, to prevent domestic violence, and violence against children in particular.

Through this plan, both the Government and the Parliament have committed themselves for the next 4 years to continue the struggle to end violence against children.  

I am looking forward to debate this plan in the Parliament tomorrow.

The Government has five crucial points that we want to achieve:

  • Strengthen the responsibility of the public authorities
  • Promote good parenting, and provide good preventive efforts and early assistance to families  
  • Ensure competence and expertise in the public services
  • Ensure right help and treatment for both children and youth exposed to violence and for offenders
  • Give priority to investigation and prosecution of cases related to violence and abuse, including digital abuse

 

In addition, The Government has also appointed a committee of experts who analyse cases of violence and sexual abuse against children and youth. Some of these cases have had the worst possible outcome, in spite of being known in the system  - maybe for years. The committee's purpose is therefore to uncover deficiencies and challenges in the public services’ handling of each case, and look for common patterns. The committee will present its report with recommendations by this summer. I hope it will lead to new insights on how to improve the system, and prevent children being exposed to violence and abuse.  

I am committed to intensify our work.  We cannot rest until the rights of all children are fully respected.  As long as children are exposed to threats and violence, beaten and assaulted,  we can not say that children's rights are fulfilled.

I know from the list of participants that a lot of expertise and commitment are present in this room. This gives me courage and hope for the future.  I  wish you good discussions and dialogue throughout the day here at Grefsenkollen

Thank you!