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Participation and Protection of Youngsters with Serious Behavior Problems in Norwegian Child Welfare Services

The Well-Being, Peer Cultures and Rights of Children

ISBN: 978-1-78052-074-2, eISBN: 978-1-78052-075-9

Publication date: 5 August 2011


Purpose – Young people exhibiting serious behavior problems represent an enormous challenge for municipal child welfare services in Norway. In working with these youngsters, it is vital to create opportunities for them to participate in the decisions affecting their lives. The study aims to explore the dilemmas involving issues of participation on the one side and protection on the other: it is one where the child welfare worker is being required, on the one hand, to provide youths with an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting them while at the same time being required to protect those youths in their care from harming themselves in various ways. These two concerns of participation and protection are spelled out specifically in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children of which Norway is a signatory.

Methodology – This study draws from a qualitative reanalysis of interview data from a 15-year longitudinal study of 85 child welfare clients in Norway. They were followed up at three points in time: first when they became clients (age 14–15), next when they were young adults (age 20), and finally when they were 30 years old. All of these 85 informants had initially come to the attention of child protection authorities owing to the severity of their behavior problems.

Findings – The chapter describes how these young people experienced both participation and protection of the child welfare services at the time they were provided and later on when they had become adults. One important finding of the study is that, as adults, their opinions had changed and they then believed that the protection usually in the form of guardianship earlier provided to them as youngsters had been beneficial to them.



Helgeland, I.M. (2011), "Participation and Protection of Youngsters with Serious Behavior Problems in Norwegian Child Welfare Services", Bass, L.E. and Kinney, D.A. (Ed.) The Well-Being, Peer Cultures and Rights of Children (Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 257-285.



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