The right to make your own choices and your rights in Norway
Setting some limits for their children is a compassionate and natural thing for parents to do. However, it is also natural that children are given more of an opportunity to make their own choices as they become older.
Some children and young people are experiencing that they are not allowed to engage in leisure activities or make important decisions themselves. They may find that there is a great deal of control over what they do and who they talk to. Some experience violence or threats if they do not comply with the wishes of the family. Others may not experience pressure or comments from family, but rather from friends or others with the same cultural background.
When making important decisions such as choice of education and marriage, it is important that the choice is your own. This is the law in Norway. The Norwegian Children Act is influenced by the United Nations International Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have rights and are entitled to live a dignified life no matter who and where they are.
Laws in Norway that apply to children
The following are a few selected laws:
- Children who are 15 years of age can make their own choices with regard to education and whether to join or leave associations.
- The age limit for marriage in Norway is 18 and it is illegal to force someone into marriage.
- The age of medical consent in Norway is 16. When you have reached the age of 16, you can go to the doctor or the hospital yourself and talk about what you want – without anyone else being able to know about it.
- When you are over the age of 12, you will be asked if you want to go with your family if they are travelling abroad.
- All forms of circumcision of girls are strictly prohibited.
- Public services in Norway are now prohibited from using children as interpreters. If you or your parents are attending a meeting with a government body in Norway, the State has a duty to provide you with an interpreter if required.
The United Nations International Convention on the Rights of the Child
The following are just a few selected laws:
- The State is responsible for ensuring that all children are able to exercise their rights.
- Adults must do what is best for the children.
- All children have the right to have their own identity and to be who they are.
- All children have the right to voice their opinions and have an influence in matters that concern them.
- All children have the right to a private life.
- All children have the right to live without physical or mental abuse.
- All children have the right to attend school and pursue an education.
- All children must be protected from sexual exploitation and abuse.
- All children who have experienced something difficult or harmful are entitled to help.
If you are in conflict with your family
Raising children in a different country than where one grew up can be particularly difficult. Some parents react to this by controlling their children's lives even more than before. Sometimes siblings are involved in exerting this control.
Your family or community may be concerned about what people will say about them if you choose to do something that goes against their wishes. This situation can be very difficult if nobody supports you. You can feel torn between your desire for independence and having a good relationship with your family.
Some families obtain help by talking to other adults from the same background who have been living longer in Norway. Others choose to get help from parental guidance courses, the family counselling office, Child Welfare Service, conflict mediators or an NGO resource person.
There are several possible solutions if you are experiencing conflict with your family. As a young person, it is often a good idea to start by talking to an adult who you trust. An example of someone who can help is a minority counsellor.
Minority counsellors work at certain selected schools in Norway. Minority counsellors work to protect the rights of children and young people by providing guidance to those who are at-risk. They also help at-risk people over the age of 18.
They can be someone to talk to if you feel that your rights are not being respected and that someone is pressuring you into doing things you do not want to do. This can apply to everything from the choice of education to the choice of spouse. Children and young people who are concerned about unwillingly being sent abroad by their families can also talk to a minority counsellor.
You can talk to them if you find it difficult to agree with your family and need advice on how you can better communicate. The minority counsellors also have extensive knowledge about what it is like to grow up in multiple cultures and to have experienced escape or migration.
The minority counsellors have a duty of confidentiality and are not allowed to talk to others about you without your consent. Many find it difficult to talk to other adults about challenges in their family. You and the minority counsellor can spend time getting to know each other in the beginning. It is up to you to decide how much you want to tell them and the advice you choose to follow.
In a very small number of cases, the minority counsellor will have to contact others who can ensure your safety. This may occur in instances in which he/she finds out that your life and health are in serious danger. If it is necessary for the minority counsellor to contact others who can help you, he/she will always notify you of this in advance.
If you want to find your closest minority counsellor, you can ask someone who works at your school or look at the following list. IMDi minoritetsrådgivere på ungdomsskoler og videregående skoler | IMDi
Other places to get help
There are many who can help you and the following are just a few of them.
- Public health nurses: have a duty of confidentiality and you can talk to them about health challenges, menstruation, sleeping problems, difficulties at home, sexuality, sexual orientation and physical or mental problems following circumcision.
- General Practitioner (GP): has a duty of confidentiality and you can talk to him/her about health-related challenges. These may include physical and mental problems following circumcision, difficulties at home, sexuality or sexual orientation.
- Teacher: has a duty of confidentiality. Your teacher is someone you can trust and who you see every day. Your teacher can help you with finding others you can talk to. You can also talk to other staff at school such as counsellors or social workers.
- The Child Welfare Service: The Child Welfare Service shall provide children, young people under the age of 18 and families with help and support when things are difficult at home. It is the parents who are responsible for providing care for their children. However, if they are not quite able to do this, the Child Welfare Service will provide help to ensure that children and young people receive care, security and development opportunities.
- Crisis shelters: are safe places where you can stay if you are over the age of 18 and exposed to violence and require protection. See an overview of your closest shelters here.
- Krisesenter nær deg – Krisesentersekretariatet
Websites in different languages
It varies as to how many languages these websites have been translated into.
- If you experience violence and control, you can access more advice by reading here. Languages - Dinutvei.no
- This is a website that can be used if you have fled your home country or moved to Norway and are struggling with difficult thoughts and sleeping problems. SteadyEnglish | sosialarbeidere
- Information about health care in connection with female genital mutilation can be accessed here. Helsekonsekvenser og helsehjelp etter kjønnslemlestelse - Helsedirektoratet
- This is a guide in different languages for parents who are raising children in different cultures. Identitet og tilhørighet - Voksne for Barn (vfb.no)
- This is the website of an organisation that helps immigrants and refugees with everything from questions about residence to family conflicts. DO YOU NEED HELP ? | SEIF (wpcomstaging.com)
- If you have questions about your sexual orientation, this is the website of an organisation that works with this. Skeiv Verden - Queer World — Skeiv Verden
Important telephone numbers
- Acute risk to life and health: 113
- Police: 112 for emergency assistance and 02800 for less serious incidents.
- National Emergency Room: 116 117
This is a national number that transfers you to the closest emergency room in your area.
- Emergency telephone for children and young people: 116 123
- Mental health: 116 111
- Violence and abuse line: 116 006
This is a helpline for those who experience domestic violence or abuse.
- Kirkens SOS (Church SOS): 22 40 00 40
- Self-harm/suicide risk: 815 33 300 is a 24-hour emergency hotline.
- Red Cross hotline for forced marriage and female genital mutilation: 815 55
Do you have any questions or requests for this website?
Those of us who write here also work with young people. We would like to hear your feedback about what you read on Nora and what you would like to read more about. Feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.