A comment about lawyer Olav Sylte

Erik Strand, March 20th, 2015

Olav Sylte is a Norwegian lawyer who has written the Child Protection Services (CPS) in several articles on his firm’s website. The articles have often been critical towards the CPS. It was therefore useful when he in a commentary on January 11th 2015 showed what he really stands for.

The title of the commentary is “Hold det negative for deg selv!” (Keep what is negative for yourself!) Sylte’s message is that parents who are involved in a CPS case should avoid writing about their case and their children on the Internet. He refers to a recent case, where the three judges in a CPS case in District Court wrote that the mother seemed somewhat immature. Her being immature manifested itself for example when she published a complaint on the CPS’s case handling by “x” on the Internet.

According to Sylte, the judges remarked that “accidental readers had commented the post ant the mother had participated in the discussion. Furthermore, they remarked that “one thing is publishing one’s private life in this way. Another thing is what kind of damage this may do to the children in the futute”.

Sylte writes that, as professionals and the court system sees it, children might take detriment from being stigmatised as “CPS children” with sundry details about their childhood being public. He mentions that statistics show that such children have much higher risk of being bullied than other children. This is one of the reasons why the legal system reacts negatively towards such acts in CPS cases.

Sylte writes: “Even though openness about such cases is common in other cultures, those who reside in Norway have to realise that Norwegian culture in this field is decisive here. Norwegian culture is defined by 5 million Norwegians, not 500 persons in a Facebook group.

Statistics show that children are bullied because they are different (also different from Norwegian culture), and then it is to no avail pointing at freedom of speech and how it is in other countries”.

These remarks cry for a reply. As can be seen from the material on Fampo’s website, the judicial security is non existent in Norwegian CPS cases. In order to do something contructive with these conditions, one has to document what is going on and spread the word. This may require sharing information on concrete cases. I will use one example, from a CPS case in Samnanger, Norway. A letter to the editor on this case was published in the local newspaper Samningen. The letter, signed by Erene Solsvik Bruvik and Stein Birger Haga, reads as follows:

“”I want to go home”
These words were uttered last Thursday by the abducted girl from Haga, who so suddenly and brutally was kidnapped together with her brother from her home, a harmonic, well functioning home, with much love and care, and placed in a wholly strange place with strange people. The girl said clerar and loudly: “I want to go home!” When nobody reacted, she repeated, she said even louder: “Can you not hear? I want to go home!” Then the mother in the emergency home responded by saying: “Shut up. You remember what we talked about yesterday, what you were not allowed to say?”

The two of us who write this were ourselves witnesses when the CPS earlier that day talked with the parents and grandparents of the two children. We witness that the parents got this instruction before they were going to meet their children: “You are not allowed to express emotions towards the children. You are not allowed to tell the children that you are fond of them. You are not allowed to say that you long for them. If you say that, the contact with the children will be stopped immediately.”

This was the second time the parents and the children could meet after the abduction. At the first meeting the boy held tight to his father’s hand and the girl to her mother’s hand and both cried. Both said they wanted to go home. When it was time for parting, the boy would not let his father’s hand. He cried and shouted that he wanted to go home. Then the CPS representative loosened the grasp around the father’s hand. The boy at once ran to the terrace and cried and waed: “I want to go home”.

The parents asked to read the report from this meeting. To this date (February 17th) they have not been able to read the report. neither their lawyer (by February 15th). The father then asked the CPS to add in the report that the children had told that they wanted to go home. The CPS replied that their impression was that the children were afraid of their parents. “But you remember that you loosened the boy’s grasp around my hand?” the father asked. The CPS worker could not remember that.

We have been contacted by several people on Facebook and by mail who think that we who struggle to get the children home to their parents, make the girl in this case a liar. We do not. We have been informed what is stated in the police interrogation at the Child House. There, both children were questioned by qualified police officers with special education for this kind of interrogations of children. The CPS is not equally interested in dealing with this report. It does not conform with the painted picture of the mother as a “monster”. It is the CPS which makes the girl a liar. It is the CPS which mistreats the children by keeping the children away from their home, friends and local community without reason. It is not the girl who has started this circus. It is the CPS.

If all children in Samnanger were to be kidnapped from their homes and sent out of the municipality for resembling “use of violence” that these two children are being victims of, we are afraid there would be many childless homes in Samnanger. We are all against violence towards children. But the way we have understood the CPS law, there should be a proportionality between the “abuse” and the reaction. Taking a child out of its home should only be done in the most sinister cases, were other reactions fall short. In this case, it is not the question of a sinister case. It is only a small feather, which has turned into ten hen [allusion to a Norwegian fairy tale about rumours]. The grandparents live next door. They have, more than other grandparents, been there for their grandchildren hand have far more love and care for than an accidental emergency home mother, even if she were to do her best.

We do not trust the CPS. We are disappointed that the mayor still trusts the CPS. She knows enough to lose her confidence. How will this brutal abduction hurt the child? It is natural that the child will think: “Mom and dad do not care for me any longer. They do not even long for me. They have not even said that they are fond of me.

We will encourage the mayor and municipality council to sack the CPS which so obviously lies – and do what they can to bring innocent children home where they belong. It is of great value in itself for the child to grow up with its biological parents. The children and the parents have suffered enough. Listen to what the abducted girl and boy say: “I want to go home!”

Erene Solsvik Bruvik
Stein Birger Haga”

This letter contains valuable witness statements. If one were to follow the advice of Olav Sylte, this letter would never had seen the light of day – to the detriment of the fight for judicial security in Norway.

Sylte’s referral to the risk for children of being bullied raises some question of principles. Should we let the risk that innocent children become victims of bullying deter us from publishing truthful information about government misconduct? Doing so would be giving bullies the authority to decide what kind of reality should be known to the public. Besides, experience tells us that government misconduct is a far more evil than schoolyard bullying – the latter a thing that the schools have a responsibility to stop.

Sylte’s article also contains a nasty cultural relativism. Logically, publishing information about CPS cases is either right or wrong. Describing this as a matter of culture, as Sylte does, transforms a moral question into a cultural one. In writing that “Even though openness about such cases is common in other cultures, those who reside in Norway have to realise that Norwegian culture in this field is decisive here. Norwegian culture is defined by 5 million Norwegians, not 500 persons in a Facebook group”, Sylte gives ‘culture’ an authority that it should not have in such serious matters.