Wednesday, January 19

Fear measures will go beyond the children: – It is important that you are aware of the risk

THE SHADOW SIDE: More time indoors and fewer arenas with safe adults can have consequences for children in unsafe situations, says police director Benedicte Bjørnland.

An intelligence report raises concerns for the police director. It shows that infection control measures can increase the room for maneuver for violence and abuse.

– What we have been, and still are worried about, is violence in close relationships and sexual abuse of children.

This is what police director Benedicte Bjørnland tells VG about the crime scene in Norway now.

In the police’s latest intelligence report, which looks at the challenges that are expected, something stands out clearly:

– These recently introduced measures can provide increased room for maneuver for family members to commit violence and abuse against their family.

According to Bjørnland, the prediction is based on the fact that isolation, mental illness, intoxication, unemployment, and tight finances can lead to increased conflict in the home.

– As police, we have no opinion about the measures, but we think it is important to be aware of the risk here, she points out.

One of six

The police director is particularly concerned a report from the National Knowledge Center on Violence and Traumatic Stress (NKVTS) from the first shutdown in 2020.

About one in six young people aged 13-16 reported at least one form of violence or abuse during the eight weeks the school was closed. 20 percent of these experienced mental or physical violence for the first time during the shutdown, according to the report.

– It is a significant number, and what emerges here is disturbing. It tells me that school and leisure activities, the arenas where children get a pocket where they can meet safe adults and get a break from a tense family life are important.

UNREST: Police Director Benedicte Bjørnland.

The same report from NKVTS also shows that over five percent of the young people who participated in the study had experienced sexual abuse and abuse online before the schools were closed.

– The fact that children are at home and not at school means that they are more online, and there are children who are also exposed to sexual abuse online. They are more vulnerable to it, simply because they are there more.

Bjørnland says the best thing you as a parent can do is to be curious about what the children are doing online.

– It can be a difficult topic for children to talk about, so it is important that adults ask and care a little extra, and not just think that everything is fine.

Lover millionhjelp

What happens in Norwegian homes when society shuts down and families are forced together is also something that worries Minister for Children and Families Kjersti Toppe (Sp).

– Infection control measures have a shadow side, which is why we try as far as possible to shield children and young people. We have tried as far as possible to maintain the offers that can stay open without it becoming professionally unsound, such as youth clubs, but many are closed, says Toppe.

COMES WITH PACKAGE: Minister for Children and Families Kjersti Toppe (Sp) hopes to get the Storting to contribute NOK 78 million to compensatory measures.

She further says that the measures that have been introduced can contribute to increased loneliness, more isolation at home and that children and young people who are already having a hard time get worse.

– We know from before that the crisis hits skewed.

Toppe says that governments will therefore implement compensatory measures, to reduce the burden and improve the security of those who have difficulty.

– With regard to children, and young people and other vulnerable groups in particular, the government will present a proposition to the Storting as soon as practically possible about a package of measures of NOK 78 million.

Among the measures they want to allocate money to are support for social activities for vulnerable groups under the auspices of volunteering, to strengthen helplines for children and parents, and for measures to prevent violence and abuse.

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