Justifying interventions in Norwegian child protection

An analysis of violence in migrant and non-migrant families in Norway





child's best interest, violence, justifications, discourse, decision-making


How are decisions about care orders of children in cases about violence justified? What important accounts are considered? In an in-depth analysis of 94 written care order decisions from the Norwegian County Boards, we examine decision-makers arguments and hereunder if there are differences in cases about migrant and non-migrant families. The analysis shows that justifications are largely rooted in a pragmatic discourse focusing on risk-levels, drawing on empirical evidence of violence. Additionally, there is a pragmatic-ethical discourse rooted in the decision-makers assessment of parents’ ability to change their behaviour, to meet the children’s needs, highlighting parental denial of violence and blaming the children. This serves the decision-makers in justifying whether the necessary care for the children is possible to attain. We find only a few differences between migrant and non-migrant cases: parents’ denial is more prevalent in migrant cases; in non-migrant cases consequences for the child is more prevalent; and more evidence of strong direct violence in migrant cases.

Author Biographies

Audun Gabriel Løvlie, University of Bergen

PhD fellow at the Department of Administration & Organization Theory and Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism.

Marit Skivenes, University of Bergen

Professor at the Department of Administration & Organization Theory, and Director at the Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism.