children and young people report to the UN on their rights - Nova

nova.no

children and young people report to the UN on their rights - Nova

Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong>ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rightsAnnex ong>toong> Norway’s fourth ong>reportong> on ong>theong> Conventionon ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> ChildMONA SANDBÆKJÓNA HAFDIS EINARSSONong>reportong>nR 2b/08NOva – Norwegian social research


Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rightsAnnex ong>toong> Norway's fourth ong>reportong> on ong>theong> Conventionon ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> ChildMONA SANDBÆKJÓNA HAFDIS EINARSSONNorwegian Social ResearchNOVA Report 2b/2008


NOVA – Norwegian Social Research is a national research institute underong>theong> auspices of ong>theong> Norwegian Ministry of Education ong>andong> Research, ong>andong>basic funding is provided by ong>theong> State.The main objectives are ong>toong> undertake research ong>andong> development projectsaimed at contributing ong>toong>wards a greater knowledge of social conditionsong>andong> social change. The institute shall focus on subjects such as livingconditions, quality of life ong>andong> ong>theong> life course, as well as on ong>theong> servicesprovided by ong>theong> welfare state.© Norsk institutt for forskning om oppvekst,velferd og aldringNOVA – Norwegian Social Research 2008ISSN 0808-5013ISBN 978-82-7894-276-5Illustration:Translation:Deskong>toong>p:Print:© song>toong>ck.xchngPeter ThomasTorhild SagerAllkopi/GCSApplications ong>toong> be made ong>toong>:NOVA – Norwegian Social ResearchMunong>theong>sgt. 29, 0260 OsloPhone: (+47) 22 54 12 00Fax: (+47) 22 54 12 01Internet address: www.nova.no2– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


ForewordThis ong>reportong> was prepared by Norwegian Social Research (NOVA) oncommission from ong>theong> Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality. The ong>reportong> will beannexed ong>toong> Norway’s fourth ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> United Nations on ong>theong>Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child which will be forwarded in february2008. All countries that have ratified ong>theong> Convention are required ong>toong> ong>reportong>ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> every five years on ong>theong>ir compliance. Norwegian authoritieswished ong>toong> convey ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s own perceptions ofgrowing up in Norway. To this end eight municipalities were invited ong>toong>obtain ong>theong> views of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>, viz. ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo,Alta, Bjugn, Kauong>toong>keino, Lillesong>andong>, Song>andong>nes, Skedsmo ong>andong> Trondheim.NOVA was asked ong>toong> guide ong>theong> effort of ong>theong> municipalities ong>andong> ong>toong> present ong>theong>views obtained in a comprehensive ong>reportong>.Have you heard of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child? Doong>childrenong> have rights? At home? At school? In ong>theong> wider society? Are youhappy at school? Do you have any say in ong>theong> teaching? Have you beensubjected ong>toong> unfair treatment or discrimination? Are good leisure activitiesavailable in your municipality? Is ong>theong>re anyone in your municipality you cancontact if you need help with a health problem or oong>theong>r problems? These aresome of ong>theong> questions asked of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>.Information was obtained from school pupils ong>andong> oong>theong>r ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>in ong>theong> age range 13 ong>toong> 18. Information was also obtained from ong>youngong>erschool pupils ong>andong> ong>childrenong> at day care centres. Children of different ethnicbackgrounds are represented. The municipalities participating in ong>theong> projectalso included refugee ong>andong> asylum-seeking ong>childrenong> who were clients of ong>theong>child welfare services or oong>theong>r targeted services. A ong>toong>tal of 1274 ong>childrenong> ong>andong>ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> gave ong>theong>ir views.The assignment proved a stimulating ong>andong> absorbing one for NOVA. Inaddition ong>toong> eliciting ong>childrenong>'s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>'s views on ong>theong> way ong>theong>irrights are put inong>toong> practice, ong>theong> survey provided insight inong>toong> ong>theong> municipalities'endeavour ong>toong> promote ong>childrenong>'s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>'s participation.We would like ong>toong> thank ong>theong> commissioner of our assignment, ong>theong>Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality, our partners at ong>theong> municipal level ong>andong>ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> who have shared ong>theong>ir experiences with us. We– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 3


would also like ong>toong> thank colleagues at NOVA for ong>theong>ir important contributions.We trust that ong>theong> experiences contained in this ong>reportong> will prove usefulin ong>theong> continuing effort ong>toong> promote ong>childrenong>'s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>'s rights.Mona Song>andong>bæk ong>andong> Jóna Hafdis Einarsson4– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Contents1 Background ong>andong> framework for ong>theong> project ............................................................... 7Implementation of ong>childrenong>’s rights in Norway..................................................................... 7Organisation of ong>theong> work...................................................................................................... 8Overview of ong>theong> participating municipalities ...................................................................... 112 Awareness of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child................................ 12What is ong>theong> Convention about? ......................................................................................... 13Significance of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child.......................................... 16Rights in practice ............................................................................................................... 18Respondents’ perception of ong>theong>ir situation compared with oong>theong>r ong>childrenong> ........................ 213 Children's well-being ong>andong> co-determination at school ........................................... 23Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s well-being at school............................................................ 23Co-determination at school................................................................................................ 26Schools’ tuition in co-determination................................................................................... 29How can pupils achieve greater influence?....................................................................... 314 Discrimination ong>andong> unfair treatment ......................................................................... 34Unfair treatment ong>andong> discrimination at school ................................................................... 34Who perpetrated discriminaong>toong>ry or unfair treatment?........................................................ 35Being an ethnic minority .................................................................................................... 39Children’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s suggestions for less discrimination.................................. 41Are boys ong>andong> girls given differential treatment? ................................................................ 42Bullying ............................................................................................................................. 435 Leisure, assistance measures ong>andong> thoughts about ong>theong> future .............................. 47Leisure facilities – what facilities are good ong>andong> what can be improved? .......................... 47Awareness of ong>theong> municipality's health ong>andong> social services.............................................. 51Thoughts about ong>theong> future.................................................................................................. 536 Summary ong>andong> conclusions......................................................................................... 57Bibliography ..................................................................................................................... 63– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 5


6– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


1 Background ong>andong> framework for ong>theong>projectNorway is ong>toong> deliver its fourth ong>reportong> on compliance with ong>theong> Convention onong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child in spring 2008. The Ministry of Children ong>andong>Equality wanted Norway’s ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong>, this time as previously, ong>toong>include ong>theong> voices of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> (see Norway’s third ong>reportong>ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> of 2003 ong>andong> discussion of ong>theong> project ‘Life under 18’). The job ofobtaining ong>theong> views of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> was anchored at ong>theong> locallevel in as much as ong>theong> municipal secong>toong>r is responsible for translating ong>theong>Convention inong>toong> practical action. Eight municipalities were invited ong>toong> takepart: ong>theong> district of Alna in Oslo, Alta, Bjugn, Kauong>toong>keino, Lillesong>andong>,Song>andong>nes, Skedsmo ong>andong> Trondheim. NOVA (Norwegian Social Research)was asked ong>toong> act as adviser ong>toong> ong>theong> municipalities ong>andong> ong>toong> present ong>theong> results ofong>theong> latter’s surveys in a joint ong>reportong>.The ong>reportong> was ong>toong> contain ong>childrenong>’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s views on whatit is like growing up in Norway, seen in relation ong>toong> central articles of ong>theong>Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child. An aim was ong>toong> ensure that ong>theong>process should help ong>toong> furong>theong>r develop municipalities’ ability ong>toong> obtain ong>andong>act on ong>childrenong>’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s views.Implementation of ong>childrenong>’s rights in NorwayThe decision ong>toong> anchor ong>theong> project at ong>theong> local level reflects ong>theong> municipalities’key role in realising ong>theong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child.Implementation of ong>theong> majority of rights in ong>theong> Convention depends ineffect on local-level initiatives ong>andong> priorities. It is in ong>theong> local sphere that ong>theong>intentions in regard ong>toong> ong>childrenong>’s political rights ong>andong> co-determination indemocratic processes meet ong>theong> principle of local self-government. Childrenong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s concrete political rights are largely formulated throughong>theong> interplay between international conventions ong>andong> local-level decisions(Lidén 2004). In order ong>toong> understong>andong> how far ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> areaware of ong>theong>ir rights ong>andong> see that ong>theong>y work in practice, it helps ong>toong> get as closeas possible ong>toong> ong>theong>ir everyday arenas.At least two main sources impel ong>theong> implementation of ong>childrenong> ong>andong>ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s rights in general ong>andong> ong>theong>ir participation in particular. One– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 7


such source is Norway’s ratification ong>andong> subsequent incorporation of ong>theong> ong>UNong>Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child; work on transposing ong>theong>Convention started shortly after ratification in 1991, ong>andong> new initiativeswere launched once Norway incorporated ong>theong> Convention inong>toong> Norwegianlaw in 2003. The oong>theong>r main source is ong>theong> effort ong>toong> strengong>theong>n participationong>andong> local democracy. Municipal activity in this area is wide-ranging ong>andong>multifaceted (Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality 2006a, 2007). Children’song>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s right of participation is enshrined in several statutes. Anumber of bodies have been established ong>toong> safeguard ong>childrenong>’s ong>andong> ong>youngong>ong>peopleong>’s participation ong>andong> influence at ong>theong> local level. For example, three ouong>toong>f four municipalities have youth councils (Lidén 2003, Vestel et al. 2003,Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality 2006b).The Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (2005) points out that ong>theong>Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child is formulated in such a way thatknowing when its provisions are met is no simple matter. While this poseschallenges ong>toong> municipalities, it also gives ong>theong>m ample leeway ong>toong> decide forong>theong>mselves how ong>theong> obligations of ong>theong> Convention are ong>toong> be fulfilled.Organisation of ong>theong> workSince ong>theong> participating municipalities have approached ong>theong> question ofong>childrenong>’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s participation in various ways, ong>theong>y were givenmuch freedom ong>toong> shape ong>theong> project as ong>theong>y considered appropriate. TheMinistry of Children ong>andong> Equality wanted ong>theong> project ong>toong> include specific coreong>theong>mes ong>andong> target groups, ong>andong> ong>theong> comments of ong>theong> United NationsCommittee on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child ong>andong> ong>theong> Norwegian Children ong>andong>Youth Council on Norway’s previous ong>reportong> were also drawn on in shapingong>theong> project (Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality 2005, Norwegian Childrenong>andong> Youth Council 2004).In spring 2007 three meetings were held between ong>theong> Ministry ofChildren ong>andong> Equality, ong>theong> participating municipalities ong>andong> NOVA. Inaddition ong>toong> ong>theong>se joint meetings, NOVA provided ong>theong> municipalities withindividual guidance as ong>andong> when required. The municipalities brought ong>theong>input from ong>theong> joint meetings back ong>toong> ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>andong> oong>theong>rpartners at ong>theong> local level where ong>theong> work was carried out. In oong>theong>r words ong>theong>dialogue within ong>theong> municipalities ong>andong> between ong>theong> various acong>toong>rs continuedbetween ong>theong> meetings.8– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


ThemesA common template was drawn up for ong>theong>mes ong>andong> questions. The ong>theong>meswere: awareness of ong>theong> Convention, schooling, leisure ong>andong> health/welfare.Questions ong>toong>uching on ethnic minorities, ong>childrenong> with disabilities ong>andong>gender equality were ong>toong> be included in ong>theong>se ong>theong>mes as far as possible, butcould also be formulated on a separate basis. In addition ong>theong> municipalitiesalso selected ong>theong>mes ong>theong>mselves, related for example ong>toong> specific focal areas atong>theong> local level on which ong>theong>y desired feedback. Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>were also given ong>theong> opportunity ong>toong> add ong>theong>ir own ong>theong>mes ong>toong> ong>theong> agenda.Target groupAll ong>theong> municipalities involved obtained information from schoolong>childrenong> inong>theong> age range 13 ong>toong> 18. In addition, several included ong>youngong>er schoolong>childrenong>ong>andong> ong>childrenong> attending day care centres. Emphasis was given ong>toong> capturing ong>theong>broad mass of school pupils, both sexes ong>andong> ong>childrenong> of different ethnicbackgrounds. Sami ong>childrenong> were also included in ong>theong> survey. The municipalitiesendeavoured ong>toong> speak ong>toong> vulnerable groups of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong>ong>peopleong>, for example ong>childrenong> with disabilities, ong>childrenong> in asylum receptioncentres ong>andong> ong>childrenong> who were clients of ong>theong> child welfare services.MethodTwo municipalities opted for qualitative interviews with various groups ofinformants. Six municipalities carried out questionnaire surveys. In additionong>toong> set answer options, ong>theong> questionnaires contained open boxes for pupils'comments. Three out of six municipalities employed qualitative interviews inaddition ong>toong> questionnaires.Data collection ong>andong> processingIt should be stressed that ong>theong> samples of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were notdrawn in such a way as ong>toong> ensure representativity or ong>toong> permit ong>theong> results ong>toong>be generalised, eiong>theong>r ong>toong> ong>theong> municipality concerned or ong>toong> ong>theong> country as awhole.Since ong>theong> municipalities had a large measure of freedom in designingong>theong>ir projects, achieving a mutually agreed summary posed certain problems.Where possible ong>theong> findings are presented in common tables.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 9


NOVA’s analyses are based on ong>theong> municipalities' ong>reportong>s. See furong>theong>rreferences in ong>theong> bibliography.ASSEMBLED OVERVIEW OF NUMBERS OF INFORMANTSLowersecondaryschoolsNo. ofinformantsin ong>theong>municipalityGirls BoysUppersecon-daryschoolsPrimaryschoolsDay carecentresAlna 6 10 5 11 16Alta 41 18 19 39 1 59Bjugn 210 155 159 99 107 365Kauong>toong>keino 28 32 60 60Lillesong>andong> 32 23 2 53 55Song>andong>nes 39 43 17 23 12 30 82Skedsmo 188 180 42 326 368Trondheim 157 112 106 87 76 269701 573 308 414 522 30 1274A ong>toong>tal of 1274 ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> participated in ong>theong> survey, 701girls ong>andong> 573 boys. 159 had a minority background, ong>theong>re were 60 Samiong>childrenong> from Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino ong>andong> 1056 ethnic Norwegians. 1139answered ong>theong> questionnaires, while 135 attended ong>theong> qualitative interviews.While a large majority was recruited through schools, 32 ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong>ong>peopleong> were recruited with a basis in ong>theong> following criteria:Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> on assistance measuresfrom child welfare servicesChildren ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> with mental illnesses:Children with physical ong>andong> mental disabilities:Unaccompanied minors:Children at asylum reception centresChildren in ong>theong> care of ong>theong> refugee service:2 (Alta), 3 (Lillesong>andong>)5 (Song>andong>nes)5 (Trondheim)7 (Song>andong>nes)6 (Song>andong>nes)4 (Alta)10– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Overview of ong>theong> participating municipalitiesAlna district of Oslo, Alta, Bjugn, Kauong>toong>keino, Lillesong>andong>, Song>andong>nes, Skedsmoong>andong> Trondheim.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 11


2 Awareness of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Conventionon ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> ChildArticle 42 of ong>theong> ConventionStates Parties undertake ong>toong> make ong>theong> principles ong>andong> provisions ofong>theong> Convention widely known, by appropriate ong>andong> active means, ong>toong>adults ong>andong> ong>childrenong> alike.This chapter presents ong>childrenong>’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>'s knowledge of ong>theong> ong>UNong>Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child. The respondents were asked wheong>theong>rong>theong>y had heard of ong>theong> Convention ong>andong>, if so, through what channel. Somewere also asked what ong>theong> Convention was about ong>andong> wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y thought itwas important ong>toong> ong>theong>m. A furong>theong>r question was wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y believed ong>theong>yenjoyed rights in various everyday arenas such as home, school, leisure activitiesong>andong> in ong>theong> wider society.Table 1: Have you heard of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child? Answers inper centAlta Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> Skedsmo TrondheimYes 62.3 59.5 61.6 43.1 67.3 48.1No 37.7 18.6 38.3 33.3 12.8 28.6Don’t know ----- 21.9 ------ 23.5 19.9 23.2Total ong>andong>N100.0(n= 53)100.0(n= 365)99.9(n= 60)99.9(n= 51)100.0(n=367)99.9(n=241)Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino used ong>theong> answer options ‘very good’, ‘good’, ‘some’ ong>andong> ‘little’. The first three areinterpreted as ‘yes’, ong>theong> last as ‘no’.It will be seen from Table 1 that about half of ong>theong> ong>childrenong> had heard of ong>theong>Convention. There was some variation between ong>theong> municipalities, from 43 ong>toong>67 per cent. There were also differences within ong>theong> individual municipality.The oldest pupils might perhaps be expected ong>toong> be most aware of ong>theong>Convention, but this was not necessarily ong>theong> case. In Bjugn ong>childrenong> at ong>theong>primary school (70 per cent) had ong>theong> greatest, ong>andong> ong>childrenong> at ong>theong> lower secondaryschool (45 per cent) ong>theong> least, awareness of ong>theong> Convention, while uppersecondary school pupils (61 per sound) were between ong>theong> two. In Skedsmo,true enough, it was ong>theong> 16-year olds who were best acquainted with ong>theong>Convention, at close ong>toong> 86 per cent, while 70 per cent of ong>theong> 11 year olds, buong>toong>nly 56 per cent of ong>theong> 13 year olds, ong>reportong>ed being aware of ong>theong> Convention.12– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


In Song>andong>nes, one of ong>theong> two municipalities employing qualitative interviews,a minority (30 of 82) knew of ong>theong> Convention. 15 ong>toong> 17 year oldswere more aware of ong>theong> Convention than ong>youngong>er pupils. Up ong>toong> lowersecondary school age, knowledge of ong>theong> Convention was confined ong>toong> aminority. Few of ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters from ong>theong> asylum reception centre knew ofong>theong> Convention.In Alna, ong>theong> oong>theong>r municipality ong>toong> utilise qualitative interviews, apreponderance of ong>childrenong> had a minority background. About half of ong>theong>participants had heard of ong>theong> Convention, two of whom knew only a littleabout it. The Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality had issued a short version ofong>theong> Convention in poster form. Two of ong>theong> girls remembered seeing ong>theong>poster ong>andong> one said: "Oh yes, that one! It’s hanging in ong>theong> classroom." Theong>childrenong> at ong>theong> day care centre in Song>andong>nes also needed ong>toong> be reminded of ong>theong>poster on ong>theong> wall. It was ong>theong>n that ong>theong>y recalled what it said, that "allong>childrenong> are entitled ong>toong> have fun, ong>toong> play, ong>toong> have a place ong>toong> live ong>andong> ong>toong> be fed."The Convention’s subject matter was unknown ong>toong> most of ong>theong> sixong>youngong>sters from ong>theong> refugee ong>andong> child welfare services who were interviewedin Alta. When ong>theong> interviewers quoted ong>theong> short version of ong>theong> Conventionin poster form ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters recognised ong>theong>se rights as rights which ong>theong>yalready possessed but which were not enjoyed by many ong>childrenong> in oong>theong>rparts of ong>theong> world. However, it turned out in ong>theong> course of ong>theong> conversationthat ong>theong>se rights, which were apparently already present in Norway, wereindeed relevant ong>toong> ong>theong>se particular ong>youngong>sters.Some muncipalities asked ong>theong> pupils where ong>theong>y had heard about ong>theong>Convention. The school emerged as ong>theong> most important source of informationin all municipalities, followed by television ong>andong> ong>theong> internet. Somehad also heard about it at home. One of ong>theong> unaccompanied minor refugeessaid ong>theong> police were ong>theong>ir source.What is ong>theong> Convention about? 1One question asked what ong>theong> ong>childrenong> thought ong>theong> Convention was about.Many mentioned ong>childrenong>'s right ong>toong> material items such as ong>theong> right ong>toong> a1The answers in this section are based on ong>theong> qualitative interviews ong>andong> on ong>theong> openboxes in ong>theong> questionnaires given ong>toong> pupils in lower secondary school ong>andong> uppersecondary school which ong>theong>y were asked ong>toong> fill in with text on what ong>theong> Conventionwas about.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 13


home ong>andong> ong>toong> go ong>toong> school, although more abstract facong>toong>rs such as ong>theong> right ong>toong>safety ong>andong> ong>toong> be loved were also highlighted. Several mentioned ong>childrenong>'sright ong>toong> voice ong>theong>ir views. We have assembled some of ong>theong> answers under ong>theong>following headings: ‘ong>childrenong>'s rights’, ‘protection of ong>childrenong>’, ‘equality ong>andong>fairness’, ‘ong>childrenong> in oong>theong>r parts of ong>theong> world’ ong>andong> ‘ong>theong> best interests of ong>theong>child’.Children's rights• I think it says that ong>childrenong> in Norway should be happy at school ong>andong> at home.• I think it's about finding out what it's like for ong>childrenong> in Norway, ong>andong> it's aboutong>childrenong>'s rights.• That ong>childrenong> should have all rights like going ong>toong> school, having a home, beingfed etc.• I think it says that ong>childrenong> should be happy ong>andong> not afraid, but feel safe.• Children's rights, that all ong>childrenong> are entitled ong>toong> decide ong>andong> ong>toong> be fed, go ong>toong>school ong>andong> ong>toong> be loved.• It's about ong>childrenong> having rights ong>toong> have a say ong>andong> ong>toong> have an opinion withoutbeing punished.• It's about rules for ong>childrenong>. It's sort of a book of ong>theong> rights of ong>childrenong>.• I think it's about ong>theong> rights of ong>childrenong> in countries that are members of ong>theong> ong>UNong>.These quotes show that while ong>childrenong> linked ong>theong> Convention ong>toong> ong>theong>ir ownsituation, several viewed it in a general perspective as something that appliesong>toong> all ong>childrenong>.The quotes in ong>theong> following box show that ong>theong> respondents were awarethat many ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> are in a difficult life situation ong>andong> needprotection ong>andong> help.Protection of ong>childrenong>• It’s about helping ong>childrenong> who are suffering, have no food, nowhere ong>toong> live ong>andong>no family.• How ong>childrenong> should live ong>andong> that grown-ups shouldn't do anything ong>toong> hurtong>theong>m.• I think it's about helping orphaned ong>childrenong> ong>andong> abused ong>childrenong> ong>toong> have ahappy family life.• The State should help ong>childrenong> who need help as well as some grown-ups.14– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Equality ong>andong> fairness• It's about getting equality between ong>childrenong>.• I think it's about ong>childrenong>'s rights ong>andong> that ong>theong>y can speak ong>theong>ir mind. All ong>childrenong>must be equally happy ong>andong> be treated equally fairly. If ong>theong>re's anything unfair,ong>childrenong> can put ong>theong>ir foot down.• Children should be seen ong>andong> heard. They should be able ong>toong> speak ong>theong>ir mind.Children should have ong>theong> same rights as adults.As is evident from ong>theong> above statements, what was foremost in ong>theong>ir mindswas equality ong>andong> fairness between ong>childrenong>. The final quote suggests thatsome also had equal rights between adults ong>andong> ong>childrenong> in mind.About ong>childrenong> in oong>theong>r parts of ong>theong> world• It’s about helping ong>childrenong> who are having a ong>toong>ugh time or are in a war.• Helping ong>childrenong> who are suffering, are without food ong>andong> somewhere ong>toong> live ong>andong>have no family.• I think ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child is about ong>childrenong> in need ofhelp, food ong>andong> clothing.• Making a better day for all ong>childrenong> in ong>theong> world. Giving an education ong>toong> ong>childrenong>who have no opportunities, quite simply making ong>theong> world a better place forong>childrenong>.• I think it’s about making sure that ong>childrenong> (ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>) should also have asay in ong>theong> big issues affecting several countries.In Trondheim several ong>childrenong> with a minority language background gave fulleranswers ong>toong> this question. They were personally acquainted with ong>childrenong> inoong>theong>r countries who lacked ong>theong> opportunities available ong>toong> ong>childrenong> in Norway.They tended not ong>toong> view ong>childrenong>’s rights as a matter of course. One pupilanswered: "I don’t think ong>childrenong> in Norway realise how fortunate we really are."Some answers showed that ong>childrenong> had widely differing perceptions ofwhat ong>theong> Convention was about. While one asserted that "Children have ong>theong>right ong>toong> do as ong>theong>y wish", oong>theong>r statements were completely ong>toong> ong>theong> contrary:"Just because we have a good life doesn’t mean that we can demong>andong> everythingwe want. We also have obligations." Although many ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong>ong>peopleong> had little awareness of ong>theong> Convention, oong>theong>rs expressed ong>theong>mselves invery precise terms. One pupil wrote:The ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child is ong>theong> law for ong>childrenong>, itapplies in all countries that have approved it. There are rules saying whichways ong>childrenong> should be happy. There is an international law that ensuresthat all ong>childrenong> have equal rights. It says that all ong>childrenong> should thrive.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 15


The best interests of ong>theong> childIn ong>theong> municipality of Bjugn ong>andong> ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo ong>theong> ong>youngong>sterswere asked if ong>theong>y were aware of ong>theong> phrase "ong>theong> best interests of ong>theong> child".Some of ong>theong>ir answers are given below:• That ong>childrenong> should have as good a life as possible ong>andong> should come first.• Decisions taken should be in ong>theong> best interest of ong>theong> child.• Parents who stick ong>toong>geong>theong>r for ong>theong> sake of ong>theong>ir ong>childrenong>.• That grown-ups decide in ong>theong> ong>childrenong>’s best interests, ong>theong> parents are right.• Used by persons who think ong>theong>y know what ong>theong> ong>childrenong>’s best interests are.• That we should have as good a life as possible, that we should prosper.• If ong>theong>re is something in ong>theong> news about parents who have done something ong>toong>ong>theong>ir ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>theong>y turn round ong>andong> say ong>theong>y did it for ong>theong> child’s own good.It’s used when it shouldn’t be used.• I’m grateful, every single day, for having a roof over my head.In both municipalities ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> linked ong>theong> phrase ong>toong> ong>theong> need ong>toong> focus on,ong>andong> give priority ong>toong>, ong>theong> interests of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. Somestatements also captured conflicts linked ong>toong> ong>theong> question of who effectivelydecides what ong>theong> best interests of ong>theong> child are. In Alna ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters drew onong>theong>ir own experiences, showing ong>theong>ir appreciation of ong>theong>ir situation throughstatements such as "We have ong>theong> best ong>theong>re is", as an aside ong>toong> ong>theong>ir perceptionthat "ong>theong> best interests of ong>theong> child" were taken care of in ong>theong>ir everyday life.Significance of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rightsof ong>theong> ChildThe pupils were asked wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y felt ong>theong> Convention was important ong>toong>ong>theong>m. This question was asked in both ong>theong> questionnaire ong>andong> ong>theong> qualitativeinterviews.Table 2. Is ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child important ong>toong> you? Answers inper cent.Bjugn Lillesong>andong> Skedsmo TrondheimYes 48.5 38.5 67.9 40.0No 9.2 19.2 0.3 8.8Don’t know 42.3 42.3 31.9 51.3Total ong>andong> N 100.0(n=357)100.0(n=52)100.1(n=364)100.1(n=240)Skedsmo used ong>theong> following answer options: ‘Agree completely’, ‘Don’t know’, ‘Disagree completely’.The answers are adapted ong>toong> ong>theong> above table. This question was not asked in Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino.16– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


The table shows that just under half of ong>theong> ong>childrenong> felt that ong>theong> Conventionwas important ong>toong> ong>theong>m. While Skedsmo scored somewhat higher on ong>theong>proportion of ong>youngong>sters who confirmed that ong>theong> Convention was importantong>toong> ong>theong>m, this may be due ong>toong> ong>theong> way ong>theong> question was worded: "I believe thatong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child is important ong>toong> me", whileong>theong> three oong>theong>r municipalities asked a more open-ended question, shown inong>theong> heading of Table 2.The ong>reportong>s from Bjugn ong>andong> Skedsmo showed some concordancebetween ong>theong> number who knew about ong>theong> Convention ong>andong> ong>theong> number whoconsidered it important ong>toong> ong>theong>m. It appeared that ong>theong> older ong>childrenong> felt thatong>theong> Convention was less important. The reason may be that ong>theong>y received lessteaching on ong>theong> Convention, but also that ong>theong>y regarded it as less importantsimply because ong>theong>y had grown older.While all respondents participating in ong>theong> qualitative interviews inSong>andong>nes believed that ong>theong> Convention was important ong>toong> ong>theong>m, a generalfeature of ong>theong>ir replies was that ong>theong> Convention was more important forong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in oong>theong>r countries. They cited poverty, starvation,inadequate schooling, child labour, lack of food ong>andong> housing, ong>andong> "ong>theong> factthat ong>childrenong> receive little love if ong>theong>y have no parents", as problems faced byong>childrenong> in oong>theong>r countries.In ong>theong> qualitative interviews in ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo ong>theong> participantsin ong>theong> five groups answered consistently yes ong>toong> ong>theong> question, although here ong>toong>oseveral of ong>theong>m intimated that ong>theong> Convention was more important forong>childrenong> in oong>theong>r countries than in Norway. At ong>theong> same time some thoughtit was important ong>toong> ong>theong>ir own situation. Oong>theong>rs intimated that moreproblems had been faced in Norway previously, ong>andong> that problems stillexisted: "Everything isn’t idyllic ong>theong> whole time".The project group in Trondheim believed that many respondents wereuncertain about ong>theong> subject matter of ong>theong> Convention ong>andong> its significancebecause ong>theong>ir lives were so safe ong>andong> secure. However, ong>theong> Convention wassaid ong>toong> be a kind of guarantee of ong>theong>ir rights. Some also pointed out that ong>theong>Convention’s potential ong>toong> secure ong>theong> rights of oong>theong>r ong>childrenong> ong>andong> give ong>theong>mhelp was important for ong>theong>m personally:I feel sorry for ong>childrenong> who are not fed ong>andong> need help; that’s why I feel ong>theong>Convention is important ong>toong> me!The following quotes show what aspects ong>theong> respondents thought wereimportant; ong>theong>se approximated closely ong>toong> notions of what ong>theong> Convention– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 17


was about. While some linked ong>theong> Convention's significance ong>toong> ong>theong>ir ownsituation, a greater number linked it ong>toong> ong>theong> situation of oong>theong>r ong>childrenong> ong>andong>ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. Here ong>toong>o, ong>theong> answers showed that ong>theong> circumstances ofong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in oong>theong>r parts of ong>theong> world were very important ong>toong>ong>theong>ir counterparts in Norway:• It's good for me ong>toong> know what rights I have ong>andong> what rights I don'thave.• Yes, it's important ong>toong> me that ong>childrenong> are O.K. It makes me happy.• It’s important for ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>toong> know what’s right ong>andong>wrong.• Because you have ong>toong> think about oong>theong>r ong>peopleong> ong>toong>o.• Perhaps because it’s important for me that all oong>theong>r kids in ong>theong> world aredoing alright (even if some aren’t). I’m very happy at home.• You help kids grow up ong>andong> help ong>theong>m with rights because you give ong>theong>man education ong>andong> that can help us go far.• Children should be able ong>toong> give ong>theong>ir opinion without being shouted aong>toong>r feeling threatened.Rights in practiceChildren ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were asked if ong>theong>y had ong>theong> right ong>toong> give ong>theong>irviews ong>andong> ong>toong> be heard or ong>theong> right ong>toong> make a decision in matters affectingong>theong>m at home, at school, in ong>theong> wider society ong>andong> in ong>theong>ir leisure time. Thereare several reasons why ong>theong> answers should be interpreted with caution. Itmay not be clear wheong>theong>r ong>theong> ong>childrenong>’s answers refer ong>toong> formal or real rights.The municipalities varied somewhat in ong>theong> way ong>theong>y formulated questionsong>andong> answer categories. For example, some used ong>theong> term ‘rights’ while oong>theong>rsuse ong>theong> phrase ‘right ong>toong> decide’. Hence ong>theong> content of ong>theong> table does not lenditself ong>toong> comparing results between municipalities, but it does show interestingtrends when it comes ong>toong> ong>childrenong>'s experience of rights in ong>theong> variousarenas.18– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Table 3. To what extent do you have ong>theong> right ong>toong> give your opinion ong>andong> be heard / do youhave ong>theong> right ong>toong> make a decision in matters affecting you personally at home, at school,in ong>theong> wider society ong>andong> in your leisure time? Percentage answering ‘ong>toong> a large extent’.At home 86.3(255)At school 88.2(255)In your leisure time/in ong>theong>neighbourhoodIn ong>theong> municipality/society 83.4(253)Bjugn Lillesong>andong> Skedsmo Trondheim78.9(52)50.0(52)--- 53.8(52)94.2(51)85.6(362)76.3(360)71.2(361)70.9(361)84.7(241)68.5(241)94.2(241)63.8(240)Bjugn ong>andong> Skedsmo used ong>theong> answer options ‘agree completely/ong>toong> some extent’ ong>andong> ‘disagreecompletely/ong>toong> some extent’ ong>toong> ong>theong> statement:ong>childrenong> have ong>theong> right ong>toong> hae a say ong>andong> ong>toong> be heard. Thefigures show ong>theong> proportion that was in complete agreement. Lillesong>andong> ong>andong> Trondheim used agraduated scale on which pupils could tick off from 1 ong>toong> 6. The table shows those who ticked off ong>theong>three highest alternatives, 4 ong>toong> 6. Skedsmo asked about rights in ong>theong> neighbourhood ong>andong> ong>theong> municipality,while ong>theong> oong>theong>r municipalities asked about rights in leisure time ong>andong> in ong>theong> wider society.The answers show that a majority believed ong>theong>y had quite a large say indecision-making, although, here ong>toong>o, ong>theong>re were variations between ong>theong>municipalities. In general ong>theong> ong>childrenong> felt ong>theong>y had a larger say at home ong>andong>in ong>theong>ir spare time than at school ong>andong> in ong>theong> wider society. Even so ong>theong> sharewho felt ong>theong>y had some influence in ong>theong> wider society was high, ranging fromabout 64 ong>toong> 94 per cent.In Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino ong>theong> question of rights was worded in moregeneral terms: "I have ong>theong> right ong>toong> be involved in making decisions in allmatters affecting me personally". In Alta 54 per cent were in completeagreement with this statement, compared with 78 per cent in Kauong>toong>keino.The ong>reportong> from Skedsmo showed both gender ong>andong> age differences. Thegirls confirmed ong>theong>ir own participation in decision-making in all arenas atbetween 8 ong>andong> 15 percentage points higher than ong>theong> boys. In this municipalityong>theong> 13 year olds were ong>theong> ones who disagreed most strongly with ong>theong>notion that ong>theong>y had rights at home, at school ong>andong> in ong>theong> neighbourhood. Apossible explanation is that 13 year olds are in an intermediate positionbetween childhood ong>andong> youth, indicating that many facong>toong>rs need ong>toong> be takeninong>toong> consideration when interpreting ong>theong> answers given. Where participationin decision-making is concerned, ong>theong> 16 year olds were ong>theong> most positive.Pupils at ong>theong> upper secondary school in Bjugn were asked ong>toong> elaborateon what aspects of ong>theong>ir lives ong>theong>y were free ong>toong> decide for ong>theong>mselves. Somerecurring examples are given below.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 19


• At home: Decisions concerning ong>theong> pupils ong>theong>mselves, ong>theong>ir opinionsong>andong> choices, spare time ong>andong> hobbies, who ong>theong>y would live with in ong>theong>event of divorce (from age 12 onwards), right ong>toong> cloong>theong>s, food ong>andong>care, education, maintenance, privacy, freedom from ill-treatment ong>andong>physical abuse.• At school: Right ong>toong> education, books ong>andong> school materials at primaryschool, pupils’ council, good teaching, safe environment, free education,good indoor climate, freedom from bullying, lunch breaks ong>andong>oong>theong>r breaks, moong>theong>r ong>toong>ngue tuition, right ong>toong> be heard. Respectfultreatment from teachers ong>andong> fellow pupils, upper secondary education.• In ong>theong> wider society: Minimum age of consent for sexual activity,minimum age for voting, driving a moong>toong>r vehicle, buying alcohol ong>andong>ong>toong>bacco, reaching majority ong>andong> deciding one’s own affairs. Beingtreated with respect regardless of one’s culture, religion, disability orsexual orientation. The right ong>toong> free schooling, school transport, medicalservices, personal opinions, right ong>toong> personal safety, ong>toong> be heard,freedom of expression. The right ong>toong> express oneself ong>andong> develop withinong>theong> bounds of ong>theong> law.The same examples were mentioned in ong>theong> qualitative interviews in Song>andong>nesong>andong> ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo. The respondents confirmed that ong>theong>ir rightswere most clear-cut at home ong>andong> in ong>theong>ir leisure time, albeit subject ong>toong> certainlimits: "So long as what we do is good ong>andong> not bad for us, we can do as weplease."Some boys ong>andong> girls with an immigrant background pointed ong>toong> areas inwhich ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> do not have ong>theong> right ong>toong> decide, ong>andong> ong>toong>differences between Norway ong>andong> oong>theong>r countries:Not all ong>childrenong> in Norway can decide which parent ong>toong> live with when ong>theong>parents divorce. As a rule ong>theong> moong>theong>r is given cusong>toong>dy of ong>theong> child, even ifong>theong> child would raong>theong>r live with ong>theong> faong>theong>r. I think it’s mainly on thisfront that ong>childrenong> are not given a hearing.No – ong>theong>re are many countries where it’s ong>theong> parents who decide.There’s more freedom in Norway.Children at ong>theong> day care centre in Song>andong>nes reckoned it was ong>theong> grown-ups whodecided at home ong>andong> at ong>theong> day care centre alike. They said, however, thatong>theong>y had ong>theong> right ong>toong> decide over ong>theong>ir ong>toong>ys, over ong>theong>ir room (if ong>theong>y were notsharing with siblings) ong>andong> that ong>theong>y decided over ong>theong>mselves. Some said ong>theong>y20– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


were not allowed ong>toong> decide anything, while oong>theong>rs said ong>theong>y were allowed ong>toong>decide wheong>theong>r ong>toong> play football or jump on ong>theong> trampoline ong>andong> that ong>theong>ydecided over ong>theong>ir desk. "I decide over my body, because mummy says so."In ong>theong> group comprising unaccompanied minor refugees one respondentsaid that ong>childrenong> had ong>theong> right ong>toong> decide over ong>theong>ir leisure time, but thathaving parents ong>toong> guide ong>theong>m was important. According ong>toong> this respondent itwas old ong>peopleong> ong>andong> ong>theong> politicians who decided in society.The four refugee ong>childrenong> who were interviewed in Alta said ong>theong>y knewlittle of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child. They appeared ong>toong>have a smaller say at home than Norwegian ong>childrenong>, although most of ong>theong>mcould talk ong>toong> ong>theong>ir moong>theong>r if ong>theong>y were in difficulty. Only one of ong>theong> ong>childrenong>ong>reportong>ed having a say in decisions at school. In Alta ong>theong> project groupcomments that it may be more difficult for immigrant ong>childrenong> ong>toong> assert ong>theong>iropinions on account of language problems, lack of knowledge in some schoolsubjects ong>andong> unfamiliarity with Norwegian codes ong>toong> be observed ong>toong> gainacceptance in a class where ong>theong> pupils already know one anoong>theong>r. Respect forong>theong> teacher is often high. Half of ong>theong> ong>childrenong> said ong>theong>y had no-one ong>toong> talk ong>toong>if difficulties were encountered at school.In ong>theong> same way ong>youngong> clients of ong>theong> child welfare service felt ong>theong>y had fewrights at home or at school. However, ong>theong>y did feel ong>theong>ir voice was heard inong>theong>ir dealings with ong>theong> child welfare service. These ong>youngong>sters were highlypreoccupied with good networks, with having friends ong>andong> someone close ong>toong>confide in. Public health nurses ong>andong> teachers were important figures providedong>theong> ong>youngong>sters had confidence in ong>theong>m.Respondents’ perception of ong>theong>ir situationcompared with oong>theong>r ong>childrenong>Some municipalities asked ong>theong> ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> how well ong>theong>y weredoing compared with oong>theong>r ong>childrenong>. The answers showed that from a good70 per cent ong>toong> about 80 per cent believed ong>theong>y ong>theong>ir situation was equal ong>toong> orbetter than that of oong>theong>r ong>childrenong> in Norway. A furong>theong>r question was "Whatproblems are faced by ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in oong>theong>r parts of ong>theong> worldthat are not faced by ong>childrenong> in Norway?" The answers showed that ong>childrenong>ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> are highly preoccupied with ong>theong> situation of ong>childrenong> ong>andong>ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in oong>theong>r parts of ong>theong> world. Several highlighted ong>theong> lack of food,clean water, education, money, technology ong>andong> health facilities. Some– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 21


answered war, orphanhood, child labour ong>andong> violence. In one group ong>theong> boystalked all at once, listing lack of education, clothing, food ong>andong> money.Children in poor countries don't get what ong>theong>y need. They can't doeverything ong>theong>y want ong>toong> do - because no one has money - ong>andong> things likethat.And rules! There are different rules!Many ong>peopleong> are affected by poverty ong>andong> it’s as much as ong>theong>y can do ong>toong> getfood ong>andong> clean water, let alone get an education. There aren't even enoughschools for everyone. In Norway some ong>childrenong> have ong>toong> cope with mentalproblems, in oong>theong>r countries ong>childrenong> are struggling with deficiencydiseases. Anoong>theong>r thing we don't have in Norway is child labour.The problem from many ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> is survival. For example in Iraq,ong>theong> Middle East ong>andong> India ong>toong>o. They're grateful just ong>toong> wake up ong>theong> nextday, alive, while for us ong>toong> be grateful means having ong>toong> have those Dieseljeans costing 2500 kroner (laughs) ong>andong> a widescreen TV in our bedroom,while ong>theong>y're grateful waking up ong>theong> next day.Some pointed ong>toong> problems in Norway:There are ong>childrenong> in Norway facing ong>theong> same problems as ong>peopleong> in oong>theong>rparts of ong>theong> world … not all ong>childrenong> in Norway have a lot of money ong>andong>care ong>andong> attention.This question elicited interest. The ong>youngong>sters reflected on ong>theong> large numberof ong>childrenong> in Norway whose parents are divorced. Alcohol ong>andong> drug problemswere also mentioned.Although ong>theong> main conclusion drawn from ong>theong> groups in Song>andong>nes ong>andong>ong>theong> oong>theong>r municipalities was that that ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> had a goodlife in Norway, a clear exception is worth noting: Young ong>peopleong> from asylumreception centres ong>toong>ok a very poor view of ong>theong>ir situation. They experiencedong>theong>ir everyday life as completely different from that of Norwegian ong>youngong>ong>peopleong>, ong>andong> believed no explanation was needed: "Anyone can see ong>theong> differencesat once." They also described ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> living in asylum receptioncentres as poor.There is reason ong>toong> support ong>theong> conclusion of ong>theong> Alna ong>reportong> that ong>youngong>ong>peopleong> are, in ong>theong>ir own way, aware of differences in living conditions in ong>theong>world, in terms of material goods as well as differing laws ong>andong> rules.22– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


3 Children's well-being ong>andong>co-determination at schoolArticle 12 paragraph 2 of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> ChildStates Parties shall assure ong>toong> ong>theong> child who is capable of forming his orher own views ong>theong> right ong>toong> express those views freely in all matters affectingong>theong> child, ong>theong> views of ong>theong> child being given due weight in accordancewith ong>theong> age ong>andong> maturity of ong>theong> child.Article 29 paragraphs 1 ong>andong> 2 of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> ChildStates Parties agree that ong>theong> education of ong>theong> child shall be directed ong>toong>:(a) The development of ong>theong> child's personality, talents ong>andong> mental ong>andong>physical abilities ong>toong> ong>theong>ir fullest potential;(b) The development of respect for human rights ong>andong> fundamentalfreedoms, ong>andong> for ong>theong> principles enshrined in ong>theong> Charter of ong>theong> UnitedNations.Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s well-being at schoolAs mentioned in ong>theong> first chapter, ong>theong> aim of this survey was ong>toong> allow ong>childrenong>ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>toong> communicate ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> what it is like growing up inNorway. School is an important aspect of ong>childrenong>'s everyday life, ong>andong> ong>theong>participants in ong>theong> survey were asked several questions on wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y werehappy at school.Table 4. are you happy at school? Answers stated as per centAlta Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> Skedsmo TrondheimVery happy ----- ----- ----- 15.7 79.3 43.2Happy 34.6 73.7 25.4 47.1 13.5 41.9A bit happy 50.0 20.0 40.7 13.7 5.5 10.8Unhappy 13.5 4.4 25.4 11.8 ----- 2.5Very unhappy 1.9 1.9 8.5 11.8 1.7 1.7Total ong>andong>N100.0(n=52)100.0(n=365)100.0(=59)100.1(n=51)100.0(n=363)100.1(n=241)Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino had worded ong>theong> question as a statement: ‘I am happy in class.’ They used ong>theong> followinganswer options: ‘agree completely’, ‘agree ong>toong> some extent’, ‘disagree completely’ ong>andong> ‘disagree ong>toong>some extent’. ‘Agree completely’ is defined as ‘happy’, ‘agree ong>toong> some extent’ as ‘a bit happy’, ‘disagree ong>toong>some extent’ as ‘unhappy’ ong>andong> ‘disagree completely’ as ‘very unhappy’. Bjugn used ong>theong> following answeroptions: ‘happy’, ‘a bit happy’, ‘unhappy’ ong>andong> ‘very unhappy’. These three municipalities did not include‘very happy’ as an option.It should be noted that ong>theong> answers must be interpreted with caution across ong>theong> municipalities sinceong>theong>y employed somewhat differing questions ong>andong> answer categories which needed ong>toong> be adapted ong>toong> ong>theong>table. Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino asked for example wheong>theong>r ong>theong> ong>childrenong> were happy in class, requiring aslightly different answer than ong>theong> question of wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y were happy at school, which was ong>theong>wording employed by ong>theong> oong>theong>r municipalities.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 23


It will be seen that a large majority of ong>theong> pupils were happy at school. Fromjust under 63 per cent ong>toong> 93 per cent ticked ong>theong> most positive options, whichdiffered somewhat between ong>theong> municipalities. In Bjugn, Lillesong>andong> ong>andong>Trondheim ong>theong> pupils were asked a similar question about wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y goong>toong>n well with ong>theong> pupils in ong>theong>ir group/class. While ong>theong>re were no majordifferences compared with ong>theong> results obtained on ong>theong> question of well-beingat school, ong>theong> pupils' well-being in class was a few percentage points higherthan well-being at school. Pupils' well-being at break times was a furong>theong>r fewpercentage points higher than well-being in class. This was true of allmunicipalities that answered ong>theong> question on well-being at school. Pupilswho were very happy or happy in ong>theong> breaks varied from 64 per cent inKauong>toong>keino ong>andong> 72 per cent in Alta ong>toong> 80 per cent in Lillesong>andong>, 86 per centin Skedsmo ong>andong> over 90 per cent in Bjugn ong>andong> Trondheim. 2In Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino ong>theong> pupils were asked wheong>theong>r ong>theong> school was agood, safe setting for everyone attending it. About 70 per cent said ong>theong>yagreed "completely/ong>toong> some extent". To ong>theong> question wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y hadfriends ong>toong> spend time with at school, 98 per cent in Alta ong>andong> 96 per cent inKauong>toong>keino said ong>theong>y agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’. Hence in bothmunicipalities pupils who said ong>theong>y had friends ong>toong> spend time with faroutnumbered those who regarded ong>theong> school as entirely safe. Alta highlightedas positive ong>theong> fact that almost 80 per cent said ong>theong>y agreed "completely/ong>toong>some extent" that ong>theong>y had someone at school ong>toong> speak ong>toong> when ong>theong> needarose. The figure for Kauong>toong>keino was 56 per cent.The same tendency was in evidence in Skedsmo municipality. 86 percent stated that ong>theong>y had many friends at school. Even so, more than 30 percent dreaded ong>toong> some extent going ong>toong> school. A similar number confirmedthat ong>theong>re were some pupils at school who never left ong>theong>m in peace. Friendsoffered in oong>theong>r words limited protection.There is reason ong>toong> emphasis that ong>theong> pupils are generally very happy atschool, with ong>theong> breaks being ong>theong> high point of ong>theong> day. In Bjugn thistendency was evident in all grades. About 95 per cent in primary ong>andong> lowersecondary school ong>andong> 92 per cent at upper secondary school were happy. InSkedsmo ong>theong> ong>youngong>est appeared ong>toong> be somewhat more positive disposed ong>toong>school than older pupils.2Bjugn used ong>theong> following answer options: ‘Agree completely’, ‘agree ong>toong> some extent’,‘disagree ong>toong> some extent’ ong>andong> ‘disagree completely’. Here we define ‘agree completely’as ‘very happy’, ‘agree ong>toong> some extent’ as ‘a bit happy’, ‘disagree ong>toong> some extent’ as‘unhappy’ ong>andong> ‘very unhappy’ as ‘disagree completely’.24– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Although ong>theong> figures give an overwhelming impression that ong>childrenong>ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> are very happy at school, ong>theong> number who ong>toong>ok a differentview should not be overlooked. There were differences between schools, ong>andong>boys were somewhat less happy than girls. Children of parents born outsideNorway tended more often ong>toong> answer affirmatively when asked wheong>theong>r ong>theong>yhad experienced circumstances that impaired ong>theong>ir sense of security ong>andong> wellbeing.The ong>reportong>s of several municipalities commented on ong>theong>ir intention ong>toong>take a closer look at possible reasons for some pupils’ unhappiness.The qualitative interviews confirmed that relations with fellow pupilshad a large bearing on well-being. Having friends was important, as was asense of solidarity ong>andong> absence of bullying. Circumstances contributing ong>toong>unhappiness included spending ong>theong> breaks alone ong>andong> ong>theong> presence of gangsong>andong> cliques in ong>theong> school yard. Unhappiness ong>andong> anxiety about bullyingcould affect concentration. Young ong>peopleong> in Song>andong>nes ong>andong> Alna alike wereconcerned about ong>theong> school's lack of resources. They mentioned old, wornout textbooks, ong>andong> poor maintenance of ong>theong> school building. These facong>toong>rsalso affected well-being.Relations with ong>theong> teacher were both a source of happiness ong>andong>unhappiness. In Skedsmo, questions on ong>theong> pupils' relationship with ong>theong>irteachers produced ong>theong> following picture: 86 per cent liked ong>theong> teachers, 68per cent could talk ong>toong> ong>theong>ir teacher about personal matters, ong>andong> 67 per centwould like teachers ong>toong> be stricter with noisy pupils.Pupils in Alna saw wide differences between ong>theong> teachers. Some teachersworked hard at ong>theong>ir job ong>andong> cared about each single pupil, while oong>theong>rs wereperceived as slack ong>andong> did little ong>toong> follow up on ong>theong>ir pupils. One of ong>theong> girlscited maths teaching ong>toong> illustrate ong>theong> differences:In ong>theong> eighth grade we had a teacher who was kind where marks wereconcerned ong>andong> was really good at explaining. In ong>theong> ninth grade we had ateacher who treated ong>theong> Norwegian girls differently from ong>theong> foreign girls,ong>andong> let ong>theong> Norwegian girls cheat. I dropped from ong>toong>p marks ong>toong> poor marksthat year. And now, in ong>theong> 10th grade, we have ong>theong> school's strictestteacher. The differences are huge: one teacher is really kind ong>andong> fair, one isunfair ong>andong> one is ong>toong>o strict.Teachers guilty of discrimination in relation ong>toong> marking were also a source ofunhappiness among ong>theong> pupils in Alna in Oslo. The interviewers askedwheong>theong>r pupils had complained about ong>theong> marks given, but ong>theong> pupilsthought it was no use complaining. There was no guarantee that one's voicewould be heard, ong>andong>: "Sometimes ong>theong> teacher feels offended if you bring upsomething you’re not pleased with."– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 25


Young ong>peopleong> from ong>theong> asylum reception centre in Song>andong>nes regardedfrequent school changes ong>andong> getting ong>toong> know new teachers ong>andong> pupils as aproblem. They were also worried about not being able ong>toong> complete ong>theong>ireducation if ong>theong>y were sent out of ong>theong> country. Unaccompanied minor refugeesfelt it was wrong for foreign pupils ong>toong> be placed in a class on ong>theong>ir own ong>andong>not ong>toong>geong>theong>r with Norwegian pupils. They felt isolated ong>andong> poorly treatedwhen placed in a separate class.Children at ong>theong> day care centre were by ong>andong> large happy at ong>theong> day care:some thought it was boring, oong>theong>rs found it both fun ong>andong> boring. Theong>childrenong> highlighted activities, spontaneous play ong>andong> outings as things ong>theong>yliked, ong>andong> referred ong>toong> episodes where ong>childrenong> were unpleasant ong>toong> oneanoong>theong>r, where ong>theong>y were not allowed ong>toong> join in a game or where grown-upswere angry, as things ong>theong>y did not like.Relations with teachers came up in several contexts. The teachers had alarge bearing not only on well-being, but also on co-determination, which isong>theong> subject of ong>theong> next section.Co-determination at schoolArticle 12 of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child on ong>theong> right ofong>theong> child ong>toong> express his or her views, is often termed ong>theong> Convention’sdemocracy article since it confers on ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> a right ofinfluence ong>andong> co-determination in society. The school is an important arenafor ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> when it comes ong>toong> participation.Table 5. Co-determination at school. Percentage stating ong>theong>y agree ‘Completely/ong>toong>some extent’ with ong>theong> statements belowThe pupils in myclass have a say indeciding ong>theong>teaching givenTeacher ong>andong> pupilsjointly draw upweekly plans ong>andong>working plansPupils’ wishes arenever taken inong>toong>accountAlta Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> Skedsmo Trondheim54.7(n=53)15.1(n=53)22.7(n=53)51.7(n=362)81.2(n=255)43.9(n=255)45.8(n=59)20.3(n=59)56.9(n=58)42.3(n=52)64.3(n=361)58.5(n=241)---- ---- ----45.1(n=51)---- ----Alta, Kauong>toong>keino ong>andong> Skedsmo put ong>theong> answer option ‘agree completely’ first, while Lillesong>andong> put‘disagree completely’ first. Trondheim had worded ong>theong> question differently: Do you feel you have a sayin deciding any of ong>theong> teaching given? The answer options were: ‘a large say’, ‘some say’ ong>andong> ‘no say’.‘A large say/some say’ was defined as ‘agree completely/ong>toong> some extent’.26– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


In most municipalities around 50 per cent felt ong>theong>y had a say in deciding ong>theong>teaching, ranging from 42 per cent in Lillesong>andong> ong>toong> 64 per cent in Skedsmo.In Bjugn around 49 per cent at ong>theong> primary level ong>andong> 45 per cent at ong>theong>lower secondary level ong>reportong>ed that ong>theong>y agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’that ong>theong>y exerted influence on ong>theong> teaching, compared with 61 per cent at ong>theong>upper secondary level. The project staff in Bjugn believed this indicated thatong>theong> pupils were taken more seriously in upper secondary school, where someare adults, i.e. over ong>theong> age of 18. Apart from in Bjugn it did not seem ong>toong> be awidespread practice for teachers ong>andong> pupils ong>toong> prepare weekly ong>andong> workingplans on a joint basis. In Trondheim it emerged that pupils exerted greatestinfluence on working methods, but this was not ong>theong> case in all subjects.On ong>theong> question of wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y had a say in ong>theong> teaching at school,ong>andong>, if so, in what way, all ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters in Alna in Oslo replied that ong>theong>ydid exert some influence. Examples mentioned included ong>theong>mes ong>theong>y wouldbe working on ong>andong> working methods. Only two girls in ong>theong> 10th gradereplied with an unconditional ‘no’: They say we can decide how we are taught,but it never happens. As regards ong>theong> statement on pupils' wishes being takeninong>toong> account, ong>theong> pupils in Alna reiterated that this depended on wheong>theong>ryou were perceived ong>toong> be a problem or teacher's pet:You're eiong>theong>r a teacher's pet, or a problem child. If I bring something up,who do you think ong>peopleong> are going ong>toong> listen ong>toong>, ong>theong> teacher or ong>theong> problemchild?Me ong>andong> a friend of mine were outside ong>theong> main hall. One of ong>theong>se teacher’spets kicked a ball ong>andong> broke a window. We ran away, but he just song>toong>odong>theong>re ong>andong> said that he'd done it ong>andong> that it was an accident. He wasn'tscolded. But if we break a window ong>andong> say it was an accident, we get areal telling off.Sometimes we think, well, he’s Norwegian ong>andong> we’re foreigners. Foreignersare always making trouble. Norwegians are well-behaved. That's how wesee things.The interviewers in Alna were disquieted by ong>reportong>s that pupils only madethings worse for ong>theong>mselves by complaining, especially in light of Article 12of ong>theong> Convention on ong>childrenong>'s right ong>toong> express ong>theong>ir views ong>andong> ong>toong> be heard.In Song>andong>nes a majority of ong>theong> pupils stated that ong>theong>y had little say whereong>theong> teaching at school was concerned, ong>andong> that ong>theong>y favoured more codetermination.Some considered ong>theong> teaching ong>toong> be one-sided, asserting thatsome teachers needed ong>toong> work on ong>theong>ir personal motivation. Many were– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 27


preoccupied with ong>theong> heavy focus on ong>theong>ory ong>andong> tests, ong>andong> said that commitmentong>andong> practical work counted for little. Some ong>youngong>sters from ong>theong> asylumreception centre thought it was right that ong>theong> teacher made ong>theong> decisions. Theysaid Norwegian pupils complained ong>toong>o much about ong>theong> school ong>andong> lackedrespect for ong>theong> teacher. One ong>youngong> person from ong>theong> group of unaccompaniedunder age refugees said: "No one has asked me if I want a say in decision-making.If ong>theong>y had asked me, I’d have wanted a say in deciding things."Children attending day care centre felt it was ong>theong> adults who decidedboth at home ong>andong> at day care. When asked a little more closely, it emergedthat ong>theong>y did decide what ong>toong> play ong>andong> who ong>toong> play with, but not always, ong>andong>sometimes it was ong>theong> oong>theong>r ong>childrenong> who decided. The adults decided whenong>theong> game was over, wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y should play outdoors or indoors, when ong>theong>yhad ong>toong> clear up ong>andong> how long a get-ong>toong>geong>theong>r should last. Some ong>childrenong> saidong>theong>y had ong>toong> attend assemblies even though ong>theong>y had no wish ong>toong> do so.What kind of influence should pupils have?Whereas ong>theong> questions in ong>theong> foregoing identify pupils' perceptions of ong>theong>ircurrent situation, ong>theong>y were also asked ong>toong> describe an ideal situation. Almost95 per cent of ong>theong> pupils in Bjugn ong>andong> about 88 per cent in Lillesong>andong> saidong>theong>y agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’ that "ong>theong> pupils should have a say inassessing ong>theong> quality of ong>theong> teaching". Between 75 ong>andong> 80 per cent of ong>theong> pupilsin Lillesong>andong>, Skedsmo ong>andong> Trondheim said ong>theong>y agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> someextent’ that "teachers ong>andong> pupils should draw up weekly plans, homework plansong>andong> working plans on a joint basis." However, in ong>theong> Trondheim interviews itemerged that this was dependent on age, subject ong>andong> ong>theong>me. A majority atprimary school were of ong>theong> view that pupils lacked sufficient knowledge ong>toong>participate in such planning ong>andong> that co-determination should be confinedong>toong> selecting subject matter ong>andong> working methods. Lower secondary schoolpupils were more concerned with co-determination in this area. However,ong>theong>y also stated clearly that it was ong>theong> teachers who possessed ong>theong> knowledgeneeded in this context, ong>andong> that it would be difficult for pupils ong>toong> see ong>theong>consequences of ong>theong>ir choices in a number of cases.Some municipalities asked wheong>theong>r "Representatives of ong>theong> pupilsshould be in ong>theong> majority when important decisions are taken at school." 92per cent in Bjugn ong>andong> 80 per cent in Lillesong>andong> said ong>theong>y agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’. In Alna many replied that ong>theong>y agreed, but after some28– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


eflection ong>theong>y moderated ong>theong>ir views ong>andong> said it depended on what decisionswere at issue.In Skedsmo ong>andong> Trondheim more than 90 per cent of ong>theong> pupils saidong>theong>y agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’ with ong>theong> statement that "pupilinvolvement is important." This attitude was confirmed in ong>theong> interviews. Allpupils said it was very important ong>toong> get involved. One pupil stated: "If we can'tbe boong>theong>red ong>toong> get involved, ong>theong>n we can't make complaints." Anoong>theong>r said: "It'svery important ong>toong> get involved, so that you care about things going on around you."Moreover, pupils who had said ong>theong>re was no point in making suggestions inclass committees or pupils’ councils considered it was important ong>toong> getinvolved. These pupils did not relate involvement ong>toong> any formal co-determinationbody, but more ong>toong> ong>theong>ir personal interests, such as football.In Song>andong>nes more pupils wished ong>toong> provide input on how ong>theong> teachercould organise ong>theong> teaching. They felt ong>theong>re was ong>toong>o much traditionallecturing ong>toong> ong>theong> pupils ong>andong> that more use should be made of ong>theong> outdoorenvironment in teaching. The pupils also wished ong>toong> give more weight ong>toong>social aspects ong>andong> ong>toong> discuss rules governing ong>theong> classroom situation. Severalwanted a greater say in P.E. classes, timetables ong>andong> homework.Looking at ong>theong> results as a whole, ong>theong> impression is that ong>theong> pupilswanted a greater say in deciding ong>theong> content of ong>theong>ir school day. Theywanted more influence, ong>andong> ong>theong> schools only met this wish part way. In ong>theong>irview ong>theong>y exerted little influence, ong>andong> about half of ong>theong>m did not feel that ong>theong>pupils' wishes were taken inong>toong> account.Schools’ tuition in co-determinationNow follows a closer look at pupils' answers ong>toong> ong>theong> question of what tuitionong>theong>y received in co-determination ong>andong> influence.Table 6. Tuition ong>andong> influence. Percentage answering ‘agree completely/ong>toong> some extent’with ong>theong> following statements.We receive good tuitionin co-determination ong>andong>influence at schoolThe teacher encouragesong>theong> pupils ong>toong> participatein ong>theong> work of ong>theong> pupils'councilAlta Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> Skedsmo Trondheim-- -- --69.9(n=53)67.3(n=352)61.1(n=59)43.1(n=51)64.0(n=50)83.3(n=354)75.6(n=349)57.0(n=237)63.4(n=238)– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 29


As ong>theong> table shows, ong>theong>re was much variation in pupils’ perceptions as ong>toong>wheong>theong>r or not ong>theong>y received good tuition in co-determination ong>andong> participation,ranging from about 43 ong>toong> 83 per cent. This may be because ong>theong> ong>theong>mecomes across as somewhat diffuse ong>andong> largely up ong>toong> ong>theong> individual teacher.There was greater agreement ong>toong> ong>theong> effect that teachers encouraged pupils ong>toong>participate in ong>theong> work of ong>theong> pupils' council: between 63 per cent ong>andong> 76per cent agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’ with this statement. Someconsidered that teachers facilitated pupil involvement, ong>andong> made it anexciting prospect. Oong>theong>rs believed that teachers did little more than organiseelections ong>toong> ong>theong> pupils’ council. The qualitative interviews showed that ong>theong>pupils felt it was down ong>toong> ong>theong> individual teacher. The pupils cited a numberof examples of good groundwork by teachers:At lower secondary schools ong>theong> pupils’ council had a greater say; ong>theong> teacherwho assisted ong>theong>m was very good. She listened ong>toong> what we had ong>toong> say ong>andong>ong>toong>ok ong>theong> matter up with ong>theong> school board. We exerted a lot of influencecompared with pupils at upper secondary school.At lower secondary school ong>theong> teacher left ong>theong> classroom for maybe half anhour, so we could discuss in class any problems we had concerning ong>theong>teacher, or with anything else. It wasn’t always easy ong>toong> talk about ong>theong>sethings with ong>theong> teacher present.In ong>theong> ong>reportong> from Trondheim ong>theong> project staff considered that ong>theong> resultsconfirmed earlier input ong>toong> ong>theong> effect that ‘democracy training’ is rarely put ona broad, organised basis, unless one takes part in ong>theong> pupils' council.Unfortunately, according ong>toong> ong>theong> pupils ong>theong>mselves, ong>theong>re are also instanceswhere ong>theong> pupils' council does not receive ong>theong> tuition it is entitled ong>toong>.Table 7. The pupils' council has a lot of influence at our school. Percentage agreeing‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’.AgreecompletelyAgree ong>toong>some extentDisagree ong>toong>some extentDisagreecompletelySum og N 100.0(n=52)Alta Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> Skedsmo Trondheim7.7 15.6 13.6 13.5 71.8 36.348.1 45.6 32.2 51.9 22.4 48.325.0 24.4 39.0 23.1 4.1 10.419.2 14.4 15.3 11.5 1.7 5.0100.0(n=360)100.1(n=59)100.0(n=52)100.0(n=361)100.0(n=240)Skedsmo worded ong>theong> statement as follows: ‘The pupils' council is heard in matters it takes up’, whileTrondheim asked if ong>theong> pupils' council is given a large say in deciding matters at school.30– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Here ong>toong>o ong>theong> table shows wide variation between ong>theong> municipalities. However,apart from in two municipalities a large majority – as much as 85 percent in Trondheim ong>andong> 90 per cent in Skedsmo – agreed ‘completely/ong>toong>some extent’ with ong>theong> statement that ong>theong> pupils' council exerts a lot ofinfluence. It is possible that Skedsmo received a higher proportion of positiveanswers on ong>theong> pupils' council's role because its voice is more readily heard,given ong>theong> municipality's wording of ong>theong> question, compared with having a loong>toong>f influence or a large say in decision-making. However it may also be ong>theong>case that pupil democracy works well in Skedsmo.Scepticism was expressed more clearly in ong>theong> qualitative interviews. InSong>andong>nes a majority of ong>theong> pupils were of ong>theong> view that ong>theong> pupils’ council ong>andong>ong>theong> ‘free class discussion lesson’ did not work well. In ong>theong> interviews ong>theong>pupils voiced views that were also expressed in ong>theong> oong>theong>r municipalities: Thepupils had noted ong>theong> free class discussion period being used for ong>theong> purposeof tests, information, football etc., ong>andong> that ong>theong> teacher regarded ong>theong> lesson asunimportant. They viewed ong>theong> range of issues that could be taken up in ong>theong>pupils' council as limited. The pupils' council was mostly used ong>toong> discussmatters such as canteen food, school yard activities or class excursions.Moreover it was pointed out that ong>theong> pupils' council met infrequently,that ong>theong> matters dealt with ong>toong>ok up ong>toong>o much time ong>andong> that ong>theong> pupils did notreceive feedback on issues ong>theong>y had taken up. They also noted that mattersong>theong>y had brought up were not taken furong>theong>r if ong>theong> teacher was opposed ong>toong>ong>theong>m. Several groups considered that ong>theong> pupils' council worked poorlybecause ong>theong> pupils ong>theong>mselves were not committed. The ong>youngong>est pupils saidthat elections ong>toong> ong>theong> pupils' council ong>toong>ok place based on who was regarded as‘cool’ ong>andong> not based on who could present matters in a proper manner.How can pupils achieve greater influence?In Trondheim ong>theong> pupils were asked an open-ended question: "How canpupils have a greater say in decision-making?"Several pupils said ong>theong>y weresatisfied with ong>theong> status quo: We are listened ong>toong> as a rule! They instructedong>theong>mselves ong>toong> be polite, ong>toong> argue for ong>theong>ir point of view, ong>andong> ong>toong> speak in aproper ong>andong> respectable manner. They believed that ong>theong> pupils' council wouldachieve greater influence if it consisted of more than one person per class ong>andong>if ong>theong> teachers spent more time listening ong>toong> ong>theong> pupils' wishes. They alsosuggested devoting specific lessons at ong>theong> start of ong>theong> school year ong>toong> setting up– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 31


a progress plan. Oong>theong>r wishes levelled at ong>theong> teacher ong>andong> oong>theong>r adultsemerged in ong>theong> following proposals:• That we have a lesson in which ong>theong> teacher writes up ong>theong> pupils' views.• If ong>theong> adults try harder ong>toong> understong>andong>, it will be easier for ong>theong> pupils’ voiceong>toong> be heard.• The teachers can set up individual appointments with pupils in ong>theong> class soong>theong> pupils can give ong>theong>ir views without fear of being laughed at.• The teachers should ask questions more often.The pupils also emphasised ong>theong> teachers’ cooperativeness:• The teacher should lend a hong>andong> in improving things, but ong>theong> pupils mustalso play ong>theong>ir part.• Everyone should be allowed ong>toong> express ong>theong>ir views ong>andong> adults should acceptthat our views differ from ong>theong>irs ong>andong> should try ong>toong> see things from ourpoint of view.• The teachers ong>andong> (some) pupils should improve ong>theong>ir ability ong>toong> workong>toong>geong>theong>r.The pupils appreciated ong>theong> significance of utilising formal bodies, especiallyong>theong> pupils' council, but also ong>theong> ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s municipalcouncil, ong>andong> believed that ong>theong>y ong>theong>mselves should do a better job in thisrespect ong>andong> draw in teachers ong>toong> make things work better. Various forms ofpreparation such as free class discussions or girls' ong>andong> boys' meetings werealso mentioned. The answers accorded with ong>theong> impressions gained fromoong>theong>r answers in ong>theong> survey: Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were eager for moreinfluence. One respondent even suggested: "A longer school day ong>toong> make moretime available for discussions." The pupils felt that ong>theong> school did deliver, butnot as much as ong>theong>y would like.Youth councils have been established in all ong>theong>se municipalities. InKauong>toong>keino around 64 per cent said ong>theong>y agreed ‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’that ong>theong> youth council was an important body for ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. In Altaalmost 73 per cent expressed ong>theong> same view. This was far more than thosewho considered that ong>theong> pupils' council exerted influence at school. Theong>reportong> from Alta discusses wheong>theong>r ong>theong> youth council did a better job ofprofiling itself in ong>theong> media ong>andong> in pupils’ own ranks than did ong>theong> pupils'councils. Both ong>theong> youth council ong>andong> ong>theong> pupils’ councils have ong>theong>opportunity ong>toong> participate ong>andong> exert influence by virtue of ong>theong>ir position in32– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


various bodies, so ong>theong>ir opportunities should be equivalent. However, ong>theong>project staff said that was much room for development in this respect.As regards participation in governing bodies, a majority in Lillesong>andong> wasof ong>theong> view that ong>theong> pupils' council did have a part ong>toong> play. The work doneby ong>theong> pupils' council was considered important, ong>andong> ong>theong> teachers were fairlyadept at encouraging ong>theong> pupils ong>toong> participate in this work. The youthcouncil, on ong>theong> oong>theong>r hong>andong>, was less familiar ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters. More thanhalf of ong>theong>m were unaware what issues were addressed by ong>theong> Lillesong>andong> YouthCouncil. Local conditions clearly play a part here.In Skedsmo about 62 per cent knew of ong>theong> Children ong>andong> YoungPeople's Municipal Council, ong>andong> 35 per cent knew what issues ong>theong> councilwas concerned with. In Trondheim 76 per cent answered ‘yes’ ong>toong> ong>theong>question: "Did you know that Trondheim has a Young People's MunicipalCouncil?" 43 per cent confirmed that ong>theong>y knew what matters ong>theong> YoungPeople's Municipal Council was working on. In response ong>toong> a furong>theong>rquestion on how ong>theong> Young People’s Municipal Council could be mademore widely known, ong>theong> respondents mentioned initiatives such as visitingschools ong>andong> spreading information, utilising a dedicated web page oradvertisements on TV, ong>theong> internet, newspapers ong>andong> brochures. Greateremphasis on pupils' rights ong>andong> pupils' school environment could also attractgreater support.Several mentioned that more active use could be made of ong>theong> school'srepresentative. An idea may be ong>toong> look inong>toong> how this function is dischargedong>andong> inong>toong> schools’ experience with any good ploys that could be turned ong>toong>account. There was clearly room for improvement here, especially in view ofong>theong> failure of ong>theong> school's representative ong>toong> pass on ong>theong> fact that ong>theong> YoungPeople's Municipal Council has its own web page, ong>andong> that it is workingactively ong>toong> promote pupils' rights ong>andong> improve ong>theong> school environment.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 33


4 Discrimination ong>andong> unfair treatmentArticle 2, paragraph 2, of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child:States Parties shall take all appropriate measures ong>toong> ensure that ong>theong> child isprotected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on ong>theong> basis of ong>theong>status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs.Article 14, paragraph 1, of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child:States Parties shall respect ong>theong> right of ong>theong> child ong>toong> freedom of thought,conscience ong>andong> religion.In order ong>toong> capture ong>theong> degree ong>toong> which articles 2 ong>andong> 14 of ong>theong> Conventionare respected in Norwegian municipalities, ong>theong> respondents were askedwheong>theong>r ong>theong>y felt ong>theong>y were subjected ong>toong> unfair treatment ong>andong> discrimination.One municipality commented in ong>theong> aftermath that using ong>theong> terms ‘unfair’ong>andong> ‘discrimination’ in ong>theong> same question may be detrimental since ong>theong>y maybe interpreted in different ways. Separate questions on bullying were alsoincluded. In some municipalities discrimination ong>andong> unfair treatment wereseparated from bullying, whereas in municipalities that employed qualitativeinterviews ong>theong> two questions overlapped. This information may usefully betaken inong>toong> account when reading ong>theong> results.Unfair treatment ong>andong> discrimination at schoolTable 8. Have you been subjected ong>toong> unfair treatment/discrimination at school on accounong>toong>f any circumstances mentioned below? Percentage answering "not at all!"Alta Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> TrondheimGender 86.3 90.0 89.8 68.6 ----(51) (n=231) (n=59) (n=51)Nationality 96.0(n=50)94.8(n=231)96.6 (n=59) 88.5(n=52)87.8(n=238)Religion/life philosophy 81.6(n=49)96.5(n=231)----- 88.5(n=52)83.6(n=238)Because of your views ---- ---- ----- ---- 46.7(n=240)Oong>theong>r 75.5 92.7 94.9 ---- ----(n=49) (n=231) (n=59)The answer options were: ‘not at all’, ‘rarely’, ‘two or three times a month’, ‘about once a week’ ong>andong>‘several times a week’. A dash indicates that this question was not included by ong>theong> municipalityconcerned. Discrimination on account of a disability was included in ong>theong> question but was omitted dueong>toong> confusion as ong>toong> how ong>theong> question should be interpreted. Kauong>toong>keino had not formulated clear-cutanswer options. Only pupils who had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment answered ong>theong>questions. The percentages are computed based on ong>theong>se figures.34– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


As will be seen from ong>theong> table, a large majority answered "not at all" ong>toong> ong>theong>question of wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y had ever been subjected ong>toong> any kind of discrimination.There were fairly large differences between ong>theong> municipalities asregards discrimination on grounds of gender. A recurring feature of ong>theong>qualitative interviews was that ong>theong> boys were more likely ong>toong> feel discriminatedagainst on grounds of gender than were ong>theong> girls. This will be returned ong>toong>.The sizeable portion who did not feel discriminated against is related ong>toong>ong>theong> small number of respondents ong>reportong>ing that ong>theong>ir moong>theong>r or faong>theong>r wasborn outside Norway or that ong>theong>y were ong>theong>mselves born outside Norway,approximately 12,5 per cent (see chapter 1). As regards ong>theong> portion who feltdiscriminated against due ong>toong> ong>theong>ir religion/life philosophy, it should berecalled that a number of different religious communities exist in Norwayamong ethnic Norwegians. In Alta are ong>toong> be found – in addition ong>toong> ong>theong>Church of Norway – Laestadians, Pentecostalists ong>andong> Muslims. In Lillesong>andong>are ong>toong> be found – alongside ong>theong> state church – Jehova’s Witnesses,Pentecostalists, Baptists, Free Church members, Catholics ong>andong> Muslims.Who perpetrated discriminaong>toong>ry or unfair treatment?The pupils were also asked who had subjected ong>theong>m ong>toong> discriminaong>toong>ry orunfair treatment. This question was put ong>toong> all pupils, regardless of ong>theong>answers ong>theong>y had given ong>toong> ong>theong> questions in ong>theong> table above. Only Altaconfined ong>theong> question ong>toong> those who had felt discriminated against by addingong>theong> following qualification: "If yes, by whom?" It will be seen that in all ong>theong>municipalities, including Alta, this question was answered by a largernumber than those ong>reportong>ing discrimination when ong>theong> question was framedin general terms, see table 8. This probably shows that more examples cameong>toong> mind when pupils were asked specifically wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y had been subjectedong>toong> unfair treatment by named groups. The answers are given in ong>theong> tablebelow.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 35


Table 9. Have you been subjected ong>toong> unfair treatment/discrimination at school? Percentageanswering "not at all ".By oong>theong>r pupils in ong>theong>group/classBy oong>theong>r pupils atschoolBy one or moreteachersBy oong>theong>r adults atschoolAlta Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> Trondheim71.4(n=21)83.3(n=258)---- 90.7(n=258)33.3(n=21)Oong>theong>rs 14.3(n=21)76.4(n=258)0 94.2(n=258)93.2(n=59)51.9(n=52)---- 53.8(n=52)91.5(n=59)59.6(n=52)0 73.1(n=52)61.7(n=240)66.1(n=239)64.4(n=239)82.1(n=240)---- 0 ---- ----The pupils were able ong>toong> tick off more than one answer. The answer options were: ‘not at all’, ‘rarely’,‘two or three times a month’, ‘about once a week’ ong>andong> ‘several times a week’. Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino didnot include ‘oong>theong>r pupils’ as a category.The figures show that a majority of ong>theong> pupils did not feel discriminatedagainst by oong>theong>r pupils, eiong>theong>r in ong>theong> classroom or elsewhere at school;between just over one half ong>andong> more than 90 per cent confirmed that nosuch incident had occurred. Moreover, a majority ong>reportong>ed not having beendiscriminated against by teachers or oong>theong>r adults at school, with ong>theong>exception of one municipality where only one third of pupils ong>reportong>ed nothaving been subjected ong>toong> unfair treatment by one or more teachers at school.Few pupils experienced such treatment one or more times a week. InTrondheim ong>theong> figure was between five ong>andong> nine, in Lillesong>andong> three or four.They experienced unfair treatment from all quarters: from pupils in ong>andong>outside ong>theong> class, teachers ong>andong> oong>theong>r adults.Several municipalities commented that ong>theong> number of ong>theong> pupils whofelt discriminated against or unfairly treated by teachers was high. Bjugnconsidered ong>theong> most dramatic finding was that more than 23 per centconsidered ong>theong>mselves unfairly treated by teachers. The figure for Trondheimwas around 36 per cent. Here 9 per cent of pupils stated that ong>theong>y wereunfairly treated by one or more teachers two ong>toong> three times a month or more.The municipalities were unanimous in ong>theong>ir intention ong>toong> take a closer look atong>theong>se answers.The experience of unfair treatment linked ong>toong> various arenasThe qualitative interviews clarified ong>theong> nature of experiences of unfairtreatment ong>andong> discrimination. To ong>theong> question of wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y ever feltunfairly treated at school on account of gender, nationality or religion/life36– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


philosophy, ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters in ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo initially gave ong>theong>impression that this was generally not a major problem at school. As ong>theong>discussion proceeded, ong>theong> answers became more nuanced. A large majority ofthose interviewed in Alna had an immigrant background. Hence ong>theong> focuswas largely on discrimination on account of ethnicity. Some consideredunfair treatment ong>toong> be a bigger problem in society than at school:I ong>toong>o have experienced it in ong>theong> community, in public offices, oong>theong>r places,but not at school. It’s mostly about religion, not skin colour ong>andong> whichcountry I come from, it’s ong>theong> religion. But, as I say, not at school.Many have felt it. We think like that ourselves, that foreigners maketrouble. Hardly surprising that some Norwegians also think in that way.Many answered ‘no’ ong>toong> ong>theong> question of wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y felt unfairly treated byfellow pupils, one rationale being that ong>theong>re were up ong>toong> 11 different nationsin ong>theong> class, ong>andong> that this meant ong>theong>y had ong>toong> learn ong>toong> respect one anoong>theong>r.There were, however, some who experienced discrimination at school fromfellow pupils:In all honesty I feel discriminated against at school sometimes. And I’mnot saying that ong>toong> ‘play ghetong>toong>’.At my school many of ong>theong> pupils are also prejudiced against Muslims, afterSeptember 11th ong>andong> that, ong>theong>y say that Muslims are terrorists ong>theong> wholelot of ong>theong>m ong>andong> all that. Foreigners this ong>andong> Muslims that. I get upset – Ihave feelings.Several linked ong>theong> experience of unfair treatment ong>toong> adults at school:My class teacher likes ong>toong> fool around with religion ong>andong> that. Once we hada test on ong>theong> running track, ong>andong> I ong>toong>ld her I was fasting, ong>andong> I thoughtshe’d show a little consideration if I ong>toong>ok ong>theong> circuit a bit slower. When Igot back she said "you ran well". Afterwards she asked me if wanted somewater, ong>andong> ong>theong>n she laughed. I’m not supposed ong>toong> drink water when I’mfasting, so I felt a bit insulted.Teachers who discriminated against pupils for various reasons were mentionedin all groups in ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo. The experience was linkedjust as much ong>toong> being unfairly treated because you were a problem child as itwas ong>toong> ethnic background. However, several pupils ong>reportong>ed that beingregarded as a problem child was connected with ethnic background. Once youwere perceived as a problem child it was difficult ong>toong> change that perception:– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 37


I often feel that it's because of ong>theong> country I come from. It's ong>theong> same thingwith many foreign pupils at my school. If one of ong>theong> completely Norwegiankids does something wrong, it doesn’t have ong>theong> same consequences. Thathappens a lot.Yes, if you’d been a troublemaker before ong>andong> you’re trying ong>toong> shape up, ifyou just make a small mistake, you’re always ong>theong> one that gets ong>theong> blame.One thing really irritated me at ong>theong> beginning of ong>theong> ninth year. Everyoneknows that I’m a problem kid, right? Or I was. We were going ong>toong> have anelection for ong>theong> pupils' council. There are just over 20 kids in our class,ong>andong> more than 15 of ong>theong>m voted for me. The teachers said "No, no – youcan’t". The teacher said a teacher's pet with only a couple of votes shouldbe on ong>theong> council. When you think ong>theong> teacher hates you, you don't wantong>toong> go ong>toong> school.The interviewers in ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo found ong>theong> above statementsworrying. Mutual lack of respect is fertile ground for undesirable behaviourong>andong> disinclination ong>toong> learn. They considered it particularly important ong>toong> meetong>youngong> ong>peopleong> who want ong>toong> improve in a positive manner.Integration of ong>childrenong> with disabilitiesIn Song>andong>nes ong>theong> pupils ong>toong>ok up ong>theong> issue of integrating disabled ong>childrenong>. Thediscussion reflected a range of viewpoints. Some felt disabled ong>childrenong> camein for unnecessary differential treatment, while oong>theong>rs believed ong>theong> teacherexaggerated by pretending that nothing had changed when ong>theong>y were introducedong>toong> ong>theong> class:The teacher can’t hong>andong>le it, she doesn’t know how ong>toong> act when sheintroduces a disabled pupil. She tries ong>toong> be as inclusive as possible, ong>andong> as arule goes ong>toong>o far. The pupils don’t want ong>toong> be seen as somebody special –ong>theong>y just want ong>toong> go ong>toong> school like everyone else.One girl felt that ong>theong> teachers at school ong>toong>ok good care of disabled ong>childrenong>ong>andong> that ong>theong>se ong>childrenong> ong>toong>ok part in all activities like ong>theong> oong>theong>rs. Some pupilswere concerned that disabled ong>childrenong> received more help than ong>theong>ir fellowsong>andong> saw this as unfair. It also emerged that disabled pupils were liable ong>toong> beoverprotected ong>andong> ong>theong>reby prevented from gaining experience on ong>theong>ir own.For example ong>theong>y were not always given ong>theong> opportunity ong>toong> make ong>theong>ir ownchoice of vocational subject because ong>theong> adults did not think ong>theong>y wouldcope. The main impression gained from ong>theong> pupils was that it was largely ong>theong>teacher or ong>theong> system that discriminated where disability was concerned.38– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


All groups that were interviewed in Song>andong>nes were of ong>theong> view thatdiscrimination ong>andong> bullying ong>toong>ok place at school. The perception of unfairtreatment was linked ong>toong> ong>theong>mes such as marking where ong>theong>y experienced aone-sided focus on results ong>andong> no emphasis on effort made. Anoong>theong>r ong>theong>mewas group composition ong>andong> ong>theong> question of wheong>theong>r able ong>andong> not so ablepupils should be placed in ong>theong> same group, but ong>theong> biggest problem wasbeing part of a group of pupils who were unwilling ong>toong> contribute. Some feltthat ong>theong> principle of not charging for extra-curricular activities was ong>toong>o rigid ifit meant that school trips were out of ong>theong> question, at ong>theong> same time as ong>theong>yundersong>toong>od ong>theong> problem of pupils who were barred from outings because ong>theong>parents could not afford ong>theong> expense.A majority of those interviewed, including ong>theong> ong>youngong>est pupils, were ofong>theong> view that foreigners were harassed ong>andong> backstabbed both by fellow pupilsong>andong> teachers. One said that a ‘mini aparong>theong>id’ had been created at school,citing ong>theong> fact that foreigners were assigned ong>toong> separate classes in a separatetemporary building. This issue was taken up by several groups. Unaccompaniedminor asylum seekers ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> from ong>theong> asylum receptioncentre also thought it was wrong ong>toong> place immigrants in separate classes.They held that this made it more difficult ong>toong> learn Norwegian ong>andong> makeNorwegian friends. However, one ong>youngong>ster from ong>theong> asylum receptioncentre did not believe ong>theong>re was much racism in ong>theong> municipality."Norwegians ong>andong> foreigners do things ong>toong>geong>theong>r." The entire group of unaccompaniedminor respondents answered ‘no’ ong>toong> ong>theong> question of wheong>theong>r ong>theong>rewas unfair treatment/discrimination at school.Being an ethnic minoritySome municipalities asked additional questions designed ong>toong> map discriminationof ethnic minorities. In Alta ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters were asked ong>toong> commenong>toong>n what it was like belonging ong>toong> an ethnic minority in Alta. Not confiningong>theong>mselves ong>toong> any particular ethnicity, ong>theong>y included Sami, Finnish, Swedish,Russian, refugee ong>andong> ‘oong>theong>r’. A range of different answers resulted, rangingfrom "don’t reckon it’s a problem" ong>toong> "ong>theong>re are so many ong>peopleong> who are raciallyprejudiced" ong>andong> "ong>theong>re’s a lot of racism in Alta right now." One answered: "Forsome, living in Alta is probably just like living anywhere else, maybe oong>theong>rs feelit’s a bit difficult. For Sami ong>peopleong> I think it’s probably fairly easy, while foroong>theong>rs it’s difficult. Perhaps it has something ong>toong> do with ong>theong> circle you end up in."This may reflect wide differences in ong>theong> way various groups are met in Alta.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 39


It appeared that ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters largely thought ong>theong>re was no problem being aSami in Alta, but that being an immigrant with dark skin might be difficult.In Skedsmo ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters were asked wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y had friends fromoong>theong>r cultural backgrounds. Almost 69 per cent of pupils who regardedong>theong>mselves as Norwegian confirmed that ong>theong>y had friends with anoong>theong>rcultural background. Of those who regarded ong>theong>mselves as immigrants, 78.5per cent answered that ong>theong>y had more friends with a Norwegian background.In general ong>theong> answers provided ong>theong> same picture as in Alta – that being animmigrant could give rise ong>toong> very different experiences. Some experiencedlittle or no discriminaong>toong>ry treatment, while oong>theong>rs were hit hard. Manypupils expressed a negative attitude ong>toong> discrimination:• Discrimination is daft.• I think everyone who comes ong>toong> Norway should have ong>theong> same number offriends.• Everyone is worth ong>theong> same as anyone else, so what’s ong>theong> point of discrimination?No-one’s perfect!Experiences of unfair treatment are reflected in ong>theong> following quotes:• We need ong>toong> employ ong>peopleong> with ong>theong> courage ong>toong> put ong>theong>ir foot down whenpupils make trouble.• Some pupils are unpleasant ong>toong> foreign pupils.• I think immigrants are bullied because of ong>theong>ir colour ong>andong> odour! I thinkthat’s quite wrong, because we’re all human beings ong>andong> are entitled ong>toong> betreated equally! I also think ong>theong> teachers behave differently sometimesong>toong>wards immigrants! Even if you’re dark, it doesn't mean you're darkinside… because skin colour means nothing… it's what's inside you thatcounts! I can understong>andong> ong>peopleong> being sceptical because someone has adifferent background, but it's a good idea ong>toong> get ong>toong> know immigrants ong>andong>try ong>toong> be nice! And remember!! It's very hurtful for someone with a darkskin ong>toong> be called ‘nigger’ or ‘brown numskull’ or insult ong>theong>ir religion.• It's not cool ong>toong> be called ‘chocolate’, ‘browny’ etc.40– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Children’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s suggestions forless discriminationTo ong>theong> question of what could be done ong>toong> improve ong>theong> situation of victims ofunfair treatment/discrimination or bullying at school, ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong>ong>peopleong> had many suggestions:• Organise outings ong>andong> do more things ong>toong>geong>theong>r. More emphasis should begiven ong>toong> social activities; that would prevent bullying.• A school mediaong>toong>r was introduced at one school. We thought that was agood thing, but ong>toong>o few matters were referred ong>toong> ong>theong> mediaong>toong>r for action.• One ong>youngong> person pointed out that some immigrants go around incliques ong>andong> that many of ong>theong>m refuse ong>toong> integrate inong>toong> Norwegian culture.That gives rise ong>toong> racist attitudes. He suggested arranging integrationcourses where we can learn ong>toong> live ong>toong>geong>theong>r.• All groups considered ong>theong>y should learn more about different religions,oong>theong>r ong>peopleong>s ong>andong> countries; learn that ong>theong>y are different, but not inferior.Lack of knowledge results in some ong>peopleong> being bullied.• Christianity, religion ong>andong> life philosophy (KRL), as a school subject, wasdiscussed by several groups. Some believed ong>theong> subject should put greaterfocus on different religions ong>andong> less on Christianity, while oong>theong>rs thoughtthat foreign parents were wrong ong>toong> remove ong>theong>ir ong>childrenong> from KRLclasses,because it was important ong>toong> learn about Norwegian culture.• The ong>youngong>sters believed that ong>theong> adults should react immediately ong>andong> putong>theong>ir foot down more firmly when someone was being bullied. "Just tellingong>theong>m off doesn't help."• The pupils also believed that ong>theong>y could also give support ong>andong> speak ong>theong>irmind ong>toong> ong>theong> bullies. However, several mentioned ong>theong> dilemma involved insiding with whoever was being bullied or spent break time alone, since itcould result in ong>theong>m losing ong>theong>ir friends or being regarded as ‘ong>theong> savingangel’. Telling a teacher or ong>theong> principal was not always easy eiong>theong>rbecause you might become ong>theong> bullies' victim yourself because you hadgrassed on ong>theong>m. Sometimes ong>theong> victim insisted you shouldn't tell anyone.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 41


Are boys ong>andong> girls given differential treatment?Table 10. Are boys ong>andong> girls given differential treatment? Answers in per cent.Bjugn Kauong>toong>keino Lillesong>andong> TrondheimYes 33.1 58.6 40.4 35.4No 52.9 41.4 30.8 45.8Don't know 14.0 --- 28.8 18.8Total 100.0(n= 363)100.0(n= 58 )100.0(n= 52)100.0(n=240)Bjugn had ong>theong> following answer options: ‘no/yes’, ‘a little/yes’, ‘a lot/don’t know’. In ong>theong> table ‘yes, ong>toong>some extent’ ong>andong> ‘yes, ong>toong> a large extent’ are combined. Kauong>toong>keino turned ong>theong> question inong>toong> ong>theong>following statement: ‘At my school boys ong>andong> girls are treated differently’, with ong>theong> following answeroptions: ‘agree completely’, ‘agree ong>toong> some extent’, ‘disagree ong>toong> some extent’ ong>andong> ‘disagree completely’.We have compressed ‘agree completely/ ong>toong> some extent’ ong>toong> ‘yes’ ong>andong> ‘disagree ong>toong> some extent /completely’ ong>toong> ‘no’.The proportion of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> who answered unambiguouslythat boys ong>andong> girls were treated differently varied from around 33 per cent ong>toong>almost 59 per cent. Hence a large proportion was of ong>theong> view that boys ong>andong>girls were subjected ong>toong> differential treatment. The qualitative interviewsshowed that it was generally boys who felt most subjected ong>toong> negativedifferential treatment, while ong>theong> girls said for ong>theong> most part that differentialtreatment was limited. The examples given by ong>theong> municipalities werestrikingly similar:• More was expected of ong>theong> boys, while ong>theong> girls "got off more lightly" bothin P.E. ong>andong> in ong>theong>oretical subjects.• Several mentioned that boys more often got ong>theong> blame ong>andong> more oftenreceived negative feedback from ong>theong> teachers.• The teachers were nicer ong>toong> ong>theong> girls: ong>theong>y received less homework, bettermarks ong>andong> less scolding.In four of seven groups in Song>andong>nes ong>theong> respondents said that girls ong>andong> boyswere treated differently. It was for example asserted that ong>theong> schoolcounsellor discouraged girls from choosing ‘boys' subjects’, ong>andong> boys werediscouraged from choosing ‘girls' subjects’. Male teachers gave girlspreferential treatment if he liked ong>theong>m. Here ong>toong>o ong>theong>y highlighted differentialtreatment in P.E. classes. Moreover, different behaviour was expected of boysong>andong> girls. Boys got attention on account of ong>theong>ir restlessness, ong>theong>y swaggeredong>andong> showed off ong>theong>ir knowledge, whereas girls were expected ong>toong> sit quietlyong>andong> argue ong>theong>ir cases. Girls ong>andong> boys received differing reactions ong>toong> ong>theong>ir42– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


ehaviour: Girls were more likely ong>toong> get a demerit if ong>theong>y were late, ong>andong> ong>theong>ywere not allowed ong>toong> protest. "Girls are expected ong>toong> be nice ong>andong> sweet ong>andong> ong>toong> beangels." In ong>theong> targeted-leisure-activities group ong>theong> view was that boys gotmore attention than girls at school.Day care centre ong>childrenong> were asked wheong>theong>r boys ong>andong> girls could doong>theong> same things. Three boys answered: "Yes, yes, yes." Most of ong>theong> ong>childrenong>said that boys ong>andong> girls could do ong>theong> same things ong>andong> play with ong>theong> samethings – "even if girls can’t do somersaults."The answers from ong>theong> pupils were consistent in ong>theong> sense that boys in allong>theong> municipalities saw ong>theong>mselves as subjected ong>toong> negative differentialtreatment. It was not equally clear wheong>theong>r ong>theong> girls agreed with ong>theong>se accountsor, if so, wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y viewed ong>theong> discrimination as positive or negative.BullyingSince no common definition of bullying was employed, it is reasonable ong>toong>assume that ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> included somewhat different phenomenain this term. The lack of a common definition is pertinent in relation ong>toong>statements by ong>theong> Young People’s Municipal Council in Trondheim ong>toong> ong>theong>effect that only ong>theong> person who was bullied can comment on ong>theong> reasons for it.If an action is perceived as bullying ong>theong>n that in itself is cause ong>toong> address ong>theong>reason(s) precisely because it is experienced as hurtful ong>andong> serious.Table 11. Have you seen anyone being bullied at your school? Answers in per cent.NeverRarely2-3 times amonthSeveral timesa weekTotalLillesong>andong> 15.4 48.1 21.2 15.4 100.1 (n= 51)Trondheim 34.9 42.9 9.7 12.6 100.1 (n= 228)63 per cent of pupils in Lillesong>andong> ong>andong> almost 78 per cent in Trondheim hadnever or rarely seen anyone being bullied. Between 12 ong>andong> 15 per cent ofrespondents in ong>theong> two municipalities ong>reportong>ed having witnessed bullyingseveral times a week. The project staff in Trondheim commented that thisneeded ong>toong> be taken seriously. While ong>theong> actual figure may be higher or lower,concealed bullying by SMS ong>andong> ong>theong> internet has certainly shown anincreasing tendency in recent years.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 43


Far fewer ong>reportong>ed having been bullied ong>theong>mselves. Between 7 ong>andong> 8 percent ong>reportong>ed being bullied two ong>toong> three times a month/one or more times aweek.In Bjugn around 55 per cent of pupils at lower ong>andong> upper secondaryschool answered that ong>theong>re was ‘some’ or ‘a lot of’ bullying at ong>theong>ir school.The remainder answered that ong>theong>y did not know or that ong>theong>re was nobullying. In Bjugn it was assumed that those who answered ‘no’ or ‘don’tknow’ had not personally been bullied at school.In Trondheim ong>theong> pupils were asked wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y or adults had doneanything ong>toong> prevent bullying at ong>theong>ir school. 62 per cent answered in ong>theong>affirmative. Trondheim considered that ong>theong> figure should have been higherin view of ong>theong> schools’ low threshold for ong>reportong>ing bullying ong>andong> zero ong>toong>leranceof bullying. The figures broke down on ong>theong> various tiers of school asfollows: primary school: 78 per cent, lower secondary school: 68 per cent,upper secondary school: 48 per cent. The project team in Trondheim wonderedwheong>theong>r showing that one cares loses importance with increasing age.The answers ong>toong> ong>theong> open-ended questions in Trondheim fell inong>toong> twomain categories: one in which ong>theong> pupils ong>reportong>ed a problem which was ong>theong>naddressed by teachers ong>andong> oong>theong>r adults. These pupils were concerned withdialogue ong>andong> with having many individuals ong>toong> interact with: oong>theong>r pupils,teacher, headmaster ong>andong> parents. Pupils in ong>theong> second category believed ong>theong>rewas no point in ong>reportong>ing since no one cared or solved ong>theong> problem.The main impression gained from ong>theong> targeted-activities group inSong>andong>nes was that bullying was rife at school. Some said ong>theong>y liked ong>theong> school,while one said that given a choice he would raong>theong>r have stayed at home. Allgroups were concerned with ong>theong> issue of bullying. Many believed that bullyingoccurred at school, although ong>theong>y were not aware of it ong>theong>mselves. It was alsopointed out that bullying occurred between different groups of immigrants.Youngsters from ong>theong> asylum reception centre were very concerned aboutong>theong> bullying of foreigners. Youngsters in ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo stated:"Bullying is mostly on account of skin colour. I haven't seen any Pakistanis beingbullied recently. Now it's Somalis. They get bullied a lot." Young ong>peopleong> fromong>theong> asylum reception centre also believed that bullying was perpetrated noong>toong>nly by Norwegians on foreigners, but also between ong>theong> various nations. Theong>youngong>sters said that ong>theong>y experienced bullying from oong>theong>r pupils, but that itwas worst when ong>theong> bullies were teachers. That was often ong>theong> case. It was ong>theong>same with oong>theong>r adults. "Many grown-ups don't like foreigners, ong>andong> ong>theong>y tell44– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


that ong>toong> ong>theong>ir ong>childrenong>." One ong>youngong>ster said ong>theong>re were no buses ong>toong> ong>theong> asylumreception centre because ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> from ong>theong> centre were unwelcomedownong>toong>wn. They believed that ong>theong> police discriminated against foreignersong>andong> that foreigners were heavily exposed in ong>theong> media. Oong>theong>r respondentssaid that bullying was perpetrated by fellow pupils ong>andong> teachers alike.Suggestions made by ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>toong>combat bullyingThe ong>reportong>s from Bjugn ong>andong> Trondheim contained specific proposals ong>toong>combat bullying. The proposals involved putting improved integrationprocesses in place at ong>theong> start of ong>theong> school year, working on ong>theong> classroomenvironment ong>andong> getting ong>theong> individual ong>toong> respect ong>andong> accept oong>theong>rs as ong>theong>yare. The pupils were encouraged ong>toong> take time for reflection ong>andong> ong>toong> care abouong>toong>ong>theong>rs, actively intervene ong>andong> ong>reportong> episodes ong>toong> ong>theong> teachers. Parents mustalso be prepared ong>toong> listen when a child opens up ong>andong> tells ong>theong>m about suchepisodes. Above all, teachers must be more vigilant, more attentive, ong>andong> tackleong>theong> problem right from ong>theong> first day at school. They need ong>toong> focus ong>theong>irattention on concealed bullying, ong>andong> take responsibility when made aware ofbullying. More teachers on patrol at break time was anoong>theong>r suggestion,along with meetings between teachers, parents ong>andong> pupils, as well as callingin ong>theong> ‘parties’ in a bullying situation. The bullies must be punished, ong>andong> ong>theong>school must make sure ong>theong>y are expelled, removed or split up. It was alsosuggested that teachers who bully should be replaced.The group discussions in ong>theong> Alna district in Oslo indicated largevariations from school ong>toong> school. Most respondents thought bullying haddiminished as ong>theong>y had grown older ong>andong> more mature, although someasserted ong>theong> opposite, that bullying had become more serious with rising age.They believed that bullying as a phenomenon can never be entirelyeradicated, but had clear views on effective counter steps.They should be put in ong>theong>ir place properly, you should take your bigbroong>theong>r along, give ong>theong>m a real telling off.– Tough luck if you don’t have a big broong>theong>r ong>theong>n?" commented ong>theong>interviewers.He can phone me, I’ll be right ong>theong>re!– Does it have ong>toong> be self-policing, can’t anything be done within asystem? ong>theong>y added.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 45


It’s not easy, ong>peopleong> aren’t afraid of ong>theong> teachers.– Does fear have ong>toong> be a facong>toong>r for anything ong>toong> work?The entire panel: "Yes!"I've attended numerous meetings against bullying, but nothing worked.I've also seen ong>peopleong> being bullied ong>andong> fetching ong>theong>ir big broong>theong>r, ong>andong> thatalways works. You’ve got ong>toong> have someone who’s bigger than ong>theong>m. Butong>peopleong> have different views, I can't speak for everyone.The last conversation with ong>theong> boys at ong>theong> club, who believed that ‘bigbroong>theong>r’ was ong>theong> only thing that worked, may seem discouraging. But ong>theong>answer points in ong>theong> same direction as ong>theong> answers of a number ofrespondents: A clear statement must be made ong>toong> ong>theong> bullies ong>toong> put a song>toong>p ong>toong>ong>theong> bullying. The following quotation underscores ong>theong> need for adults ong>toong>listen ong>toong> a greater degree ong>andong> ong>toong> understong>andong> ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>'s ownexperiences ong>andong> strategies in relation ong>toong> bullying:I agree, we call one anoong>theong>r by nicknames at our school, ong>andong> ong>theong> teachersreally stick ong>theong>ir nose in. There’s one we call Jonas ong>theong> Jew. I'm called ong>theong>terrorist. No one gives me any stick for that, but anyone calling out Jonasong>theong> Jew gets a demerit. They call me terrorist ong>andong> nothing happens, ong>theong>rules should ong>theong> same for everyone, he he. It's because I grew a beard. Ithink ong>theong>y meddle a bit ong>toong>o much.– Does he dislike being called Jonas ong>theong> Jew?No, he thinks it’s cool!– ong>andong> do you think it's cool being called ‘terrorist?’He, he, I think it's fun. We're creative ong>peopleong>.Pupils understong>andong> each oong>theong>r when ong>theong>y say stuff like that, but ong>theong> teachersdon't understong>andong>; ong>theong>y think it's serious.Yeah, like me ong>andong> Jonas ong>theong> Jew, we’re really good pals, even though he's aJew ong>andong> I'm a Muslim. The teachers can see where having fun. But as soonas we call him by his nickname ong>theong>y start meddling. As long as you don'thurt anyone with your comments, ong>theong>n surely you can say what you want.The interviewers in ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo wondered why ong>theong> adults didnot view this as ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>'s way of dealing with ong>andong> neutralising complexissues. They believe it is important ong>toong> bring ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters ong>theong>mselves onboard when drawing up methods ong>toong> combat bullying.46– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


5 Leisure, assistance measures ong>andong>thoughts about ong>theong> futureArticle 31, paragraph 1, of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child:States Parties recognize ong>theong> right of ong>theong> child ong>toong> rest ong>andong> leisure, ong>toong> engage inplay ong>andong> recreational activities appropriate ong>toong> ong>theong> age of ong>theong> child ong>andong> ong>toong>participate freely in cultural life ong>andong> ong>theong> arts.The municipalities have mapped various aspects of ong>childrenong>’s leisure time:facilities available, what facilities ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> availed ong>theong>mselvesof, what ong>theong>y thought of ong>theong> facilities in ong>theong>ir municipality ong>andong> whatong>theong>y desired in addition. Their influence on choice of leisure activities, wellbeingong>andong> safety were oong>theong>r aspects that were illuminated. The municipalitieswere particularly concerned ong>toong> find out what facilities ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> actuallymade use of ong>andong> ong>toong> encourage ong>theong>m ong>toong> indicate any oong>theong>r wishes ong>theong>y had asregards leisure activities. While ong>theong> results of this survey are useful ong>toong> ong>theong>municipalities with a view ong>toong> furong>theong>r developing leisure facilities for ong>childrenong>ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>, ong>theong> present chapter is confined ong>toong> aspects of more generalinterest.Leisure facilities – what facilities are good ong>andong>what can be improved?While ong>theong> type ong>andong> scope of leisure facilities varies from one municipality ong>toong>ong>theong> next, a wide range of such facilities is available in all ong>theong> municipalities,especially sports ong>andong> music. Pupils in one municipality listed ong>theong> followingleisure facilities for ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>: Football pitches, illuminatedski tracks, shooting range, biathlon arena, rugby pitch, bowling alley, indoorsynong>theong>tic football pitch, indoor tartan athletics track, skating ong>andong> curlingrinks, skateboard ramp, bathing beaches, hiking trails, youth clubs, culturecentre, music ong>andong> art school, music workshop, riding ground, ong>theong>atre group,4H club, moong>toong>rcross circuit ong>andong> library. With some variations, this list givesa fair picture of municipal offerings.In Kauong>toong>keino ong>andong> Lillesong>andong> more than 40 per cent of ong>theong> pupils agreed‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’ that ong>theong>y were satisfied with ong>theong> leisure facilitiesin ong>theong> municipality. The corresponding figures from Trondheim was 68 per– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 47


cent, while more than 90 per cent in Bjugn were of ong>theong> view that many orsome good facilities were available where ong>theong>y live.To ong>theong> question of ong>theong>re was anything ong>theong>y missed, examples citedincluded a philosophy club, rehearsal rooms for bong>andong>s, dancing, riding,basketball, more figure skating/ice hockey halls or skate parks. Some thoughtong>theong>re was ong>toong>o little ong>toong> do for under-18s who were not involved in anorganised activity. Some wanted more places ong>toong> meet such as clubs, but alsoplaces where ong>theong>y could carry on unorganised sports. There was little opportunityfor unorganised sports since ong>theong> sports clubs occupied all sports facilitiesin leisure time. This ong>theong>me also featured in ong>theong> qualitative interviews.In Alna most of ong>theong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> knew of ong>andong> used ong>theong> local recreationalclub, ong>andong> ong>theong>y also mentioned sports activities such volleyball, tabletennis, football ong>andong> "now ong>theong>y’re building a sports hall ong>toong>o". The ong>youngong>stersthought it was a good thing ong>toong> have venues where ong>theong>y could do sportswithout joining a sports club.Since we got ong>theong> synong>theong>tic football pitch ong>theong>re have been fewer ong>peopleong> at ong>theong>centre. Many of those who hung out previously - ong>theong>y've joined our footballteam. They've shaped up ong>andong> turned inong>toong> proper ong>peopleong>. The fact that ong>theong>club is open after school up ong>toong> 4 o’clock, ong>andong> ong>theong>n re-opens in ong>theong> evening,also means ong>theong>re's less happening up ong>theong>re at ong>theong> centre. The more activityong>theong>re is here, ong>theong> less criminality you get. If you've got nothing ong>toong> do, you goout, wong>andong>er around without purpose ong>andong> suddenly you start doing sillythings.Although ong>theong>y were quite well-informed about ong>theong> opportunities ong>andong>offerings in ong>theong> area, ong>theong>y did not think it was easy for someone new ong>toong> ong>theong>district ong>toong> find ong>theong>ir bearings ong>andong> suggested that information should beposted ong>toong> ong>peopleong> who had recently moved ong>theong>re.Young ong>peopleong> living in Song>andong>nes thought ong>theong>re were many good leisurefacilities available. They mentioned ong>theong> music ong>andong> art school, sports facilities,downong>toong>wn facilities for ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>andong> a variety of offerings near whereong>theong>y lived. Several ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> none ong>theong> less desired a wider range of safeplaces ong>toong> meet ong>andong> greater freedom of choice. Some also called for more non-Christian recreational clubs. Several mentioned that as ong>theong>y grew older ong>theong>ywere expected ong>toong> make a ‘serious go of it’ in order ong>toong> be allowed ong>toong> take partin sports activities, ong>andong> that many quit for that reason.They're afraid of not being up ong>toong> ong>theong> mark - not as good as ong>theong> oong>theong>rs, ong>andong>I didn't play here anymore because it's ong>toong>o serious ong>andong> no-one’s playing forfun any more.48– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


All ong>theong>y wanted was a place where ong>theong>y could have an nice time, ong>andong> wherethings were not ong>toong>o serious. One group reckoned that Song>andong>nes lacked goodfacilities for ong>theong> disabled. They wanted more facilities for ong>peopleong> interested incomputing ong>andong> technology.As in ong>theong> case of oong>theong>r ong>theong>mes, ong>theong>re was a gulf between ong>theong> statementsof ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> resident in Song>andong>nes ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> living at ong>theong> asylumreception centre. The oldest of ong>theong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> from ong>theong> asylum receptioncentre did not think leisure facilities in Song>andong>nes were up ong>toong> much. They hadnothing ong>toong> do, "just wong>andong>er around ong>theong> bus station ong>andong> ong>theong> shopping centre".They knew of some leisure facilities, but didn't think ong>theong>re was anything ong>toong>do ong>theong>re. They missed leisure facilities at ong>theong> asylum reception centre.Transport was anoong>theong>r problem. There were few buses ong>toong> ong>theong> centre. Youngong>peopleong> wanted youth cafes, a studio ong>theong>y could rent, basketball, a free sportsclub, a youth discoong>theong>que ong>andong> better transport facilities. One ong>youngong> personreckoned that ong>theong>re were no buses ong>toong> ong>theong> asylum reception centre becauseong>youngong> ong>peopleong> from ong>theong> reception centre were not welcome downong>toong>wn. Theong>youngong>sters also said ong>theong>re was nothing ong>toong> do in ong>theong> summer holidays. Theywanted ong>toong> go ong>toong> Kristiansong>andong>, Oslo or Bergen, or on holiday like oong>theong>r ong>youngong>Norwegians. One said:I've been living here for five years now, ong>andong> haven't been on a singleholiday in that time. There could have been activities at ong>theong> receptioncentre, something okay here. The Norwegians are having a nice time whilewe have ong>toong> stay here, going nuts.Anoong>theong>r said: "We're not allowed ong>toong> keep animals. We're not allowed ong>toong> have ong>theong>internet installed because we don't have a residence permit. And we can't travelabroad because we don't have a residence permit."Younger ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> at ong>theong> asylum reception centre were more content;ong>theong>y mentioned leisure activities such as going for a walk, going ong>toong> ong>theong> cinemaong>andong> ong>theong> karate club. They missed a gym where ong>theong>y could just turn up ong>andong>that was open ong>toong> everyone. The group of unaccompanied minors from ong>theong>asylum reception centre were not aware of any leisure activities in Song>andong>nes;ong>theong>y said ong>theong>y rarely turned up at such activities. Several of ong>theong>m played cricketat ong>theong> reception centre, ong>andong> some said ong>theong>y had visited a recreational clubong>toong>geong>theong>r with staff. To ong>theong> question of what ong>theong>y missed, several said ong>theong>ywould like organised cricket ong>toong>urnaments, ong>andong> some wanted ong>toong> play footballong>andong> volleyball ong>andong> go on outings.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 49


In Song>andong>nes ong>childrenong> at ong>theong> day care centre talked about different thingsong>theong>y did in ong>theong>ir leisure time. Sometimes ong>theong>y were allowed ong>toong> decide forong>theong>mselves, e.g. go ong>toong> football, karate or gymnastics, while one said that"mum decides". They said both moong>theong>r ong>andong> faong>theong>r drove ong>theong>m ong>toong> leisureactivities. One said: "I don't go ong>toong> any activities, I’m just at ong>theong> day care centre,at home ong>andong> have a nice time. "Is it safe going out?In Lillesong>andong> ong>andong> Trondheim, Alta ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were askedwheong>theong>r ong>theong>y thought it was safe going out in ong>theong> evening, ong>toong> ong>andong> fromleisure activity venues or friends’ houses. Between 86 ong>andong> 91 per centthought it was safe. In ong>theong> interviews in Trondheim some cited traffic as ong>theong>reason why ong>theong>y did not feel safe. Traffic speed ong>andong> a lack of footpaths was aproblem outside urban areas, said ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. Moreover, inAlna most of ong>theong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> said that although ong>theong>y travelled safely ong>toong> ong>andong>from ong>theong> various meeting places, ong>theong>ir parents were worried each time ong>theong>rewas an incident of one kind or anoong>theong>r: "They’re likely ong>toong> say no you can’t goong>theong>re; this or that might happen." In Song>andong>nes ong>theong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> said that beingsafe mattered, both ong>toong> ong>theong>m ong>andong> ong>theong>ir parents.In Alta ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were also asked wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y hadbeen subjected ong>toong> unfair treatment/discrimination in ong>theong>ir leisure time onvarious grounds. Around 95 per cent answered that ong>theong>y had not felt discriminatedagainst on account of gender, disability or nationality. In relation ong>toong>religion/life philosophy, ong>theong> figure was 88 per cent. Although ong>theong>re wassomewhat less discrimination in leisure time than at school, ong>theong> tendency wasong>theong> same: a majority stated that ong>theong>y were not discriminated against.Do you decide your leisure activities yourself?A large majority of pupils confirmed ong>theong>y could decide ong>theong>ir leisure activitiesong>theong>mselves, between 94 ong>andong> 98 per cent in Bjugn ong>andong> Kauong>toong>keino agreed‘completely/ong>toong> some extent’. Once again this impression was confirmed inong>theong> qualitative interviews in ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo ong>andong> Song>andong>nes. Howeverit emerged that most pupils discussed ong>theong>ir activities with ong>theong>ir parents, ong>andong>that finances, lack of transport ong>andong> oong>theong>r obligations in relation ong>toong> school ong>andong>home limited ong>theong> scope of activities ong>theong>y could participate in.Young ong>peopleong> at ong>theong> asylum reception centre said ong>theong>ir financialsituation prevented ong>theong>m from participating in leisure activities. Their50– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


parents had no money for such activities, ong>andong> ong>theong> ong>youngong>sters ong>theong>mselves hadno pocket money. One said:We want freedom, but without money we have no freedom. The onlything you're not afraid of is getting killed here.The ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> also felt that ong>theong>ir parents lacked information on life as aong>youngong> person in Norway. School outings were unusual in ong>theong>ir countries,ong>andong> ong>theong> parents failed ong>toong> understong>andong> ong>theong>ir purpose: "It's quite awful for us".One mentioned that he missed a sponsor system whereby ong>theong>municipality paid ong>theong> membership fee for a leisure activity for each ong>youngong>person. This would have been a very helpful initial offering, since that wouldgive everyone in Song>andong>nes ong>theong> opportunity ong>toong> join a leisure activity. In thatway ong>theong>y could have tried out being part of a community: "It creates aninclusive environment ong>andong> prevents bullying ong>andong> that sort of thing".Awareness of ong>theong> municipality's health ong>andong> socialservicesArticle 24, paragraph 1, of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> ChildStates Parties recognize ong>theong> right of ong>theong> child ong>toong> ong>theong> enjoyment of ong>theong> highestattainable stong>andong>ard of health ong>andong> ong>toong> facilities for ong>theong> treatment of illness ong>andong>rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive ong>toong> ensure that no child isdeprived of his or her right of access ong>toong> such health care services.The municipalities have applied differing organisational approaches (interdisciplinaryong>andong> cross-secong>toong>ral) ong>toong> ensure that service offerings should bereadily available ong>toong> users. The aim is that ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in ong>theong>municipality should have easy access ong>toong> ong>theong> assistance services. They wereong>theong>refore asked wheong>theong>r ong>theong>y knew who ong>toong> contact if ong>theong>y or anyone ong>theong>yknew needed help on account of ong>theong>ir own health, difficulties at home oroong>theong>r problems.Do you know who ong>toong> contact?Between 50 ong>andong> 80 per cent confirmed that ong>theong>y knew who ong>toong> contact inAlta, Bjugn ong>andong> Trondheim. In ong>theong>se municipalities, in ong>theong> Alna district ofOslo ong>andong> in Song>andong>nes most respondents mentioned ong>theong> public health nurse oryouth health clinic, docong>toong>r, teacher ong>andong> ong>theong>ir own parents if it was a matterof health:– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 51


Talk ong>toong> ong>theong> public health nurse at school in ong>theong> first instance; she can givefurong>theong>r advice.The public health nurse, my moong>theong>r… (she's good at talking about thatkind of thing).A somewhat smaller number knew who ong>toong> contact if ong>theong>y or someone ong>theong>yknew needed help with a domestic problem. Yet again it was ong>theong> publichealth nurse ong>andong> ong>theong> docong>toong>r who were highlighted, but also ong>theong> schoolcounsellor, psychologist, teacher or "an organisation focusing on ong>childrenong>'swell-being, possibly ong>theong> child welfare service".As regards ong>theong> question of who could be contacted in connection withoong>theong>r difficulties, it was chiefly ong>theong> public health nurse ong>andong> docong>toong>r who werementioned, along with a schoolteacher or pre-school teacher.While ong>theong> above persons were mentioned repeatedly, respondents mentioneda broad range of persons ong>andong> authorities. Many would contact ong>theong>irparents first of all, although oong>theong>r alternatives were ong>theong> recreational club,Kirkens SOS ong>andong> oong>theong>r emergency helplines, ong>theong> family counselling service,BUP (mental health services for adolescents) or ong>theong> Red Cross, friends, ong>theong>police or a hospital. The suggestions depended on ong>theong> degree of seriousnessong>andong> type of problem, as well as local conditions ong>andong> who ong>theong>y were familiarwith. It was clear that ong>theong> helpers' personality ong>andong> reputation also played apart. At one school ong>theong> counsellor was a person pupils could go ong>toong> with anykind of problem.She is a very good person. Many ong>peopleong> go ong>andong> talk ong>toong> her ong>andong> she helpsong>theong>m ong>toong>o.There's at least one person in my class who's been helped by XX, ong>theong> wayshe was before, she skipped nearly every lesson ong>andong> was really, yes, quiteawful previously, but now she sits down ong>andong> does her homework ong>andong> she'sbecome really good at school ong>andong> it's all thanks ong>toong> XX. It shows that iong>theong>lps having someone like XX at school.But ong>theong>re were also some ong>childrenong> who did not know who ong>toong> contact. Theyproduced answers like: "No, I don't know about that", "No idea" ong>andong> "Don'tknow anybody".One ong>youngong> person from ong>theong> asylum reception centre said that if youcontacted ong>theong> child welfare service it only made things worse.No foreigner would go ong>andong> say ong>theong> moong>theong>r or faong>theong>r has done somethingwrong - ong>theong>y can't do that because ong>theong>n ong>theong>y just go ong>toong> ong>theong> police.52– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers reckoned ong>theong>y could contact ong>theong> staffat ong>theong> reception centre, but were uncertain who ong>toong> contact once ong>theong>y wereliving in ong>theong>ir own flat. Some suggested ong>theong>ir list docong>toong>r or a friend. Severalong>youngong> ong>peopleong> said ong>theong>y were not taken seriously when ong>theong>y phoned ong>toong> ask forassistance: "When a ong>youngong> person rings ong>theong>y reckon he's just kidding ".In Song>andong>nes ong>childrenong> at ong>theong> day care centre said that if someone was sad,ill or had a pain somewhere, ong>theong>y should go ong>toong> a grown-up. They could alsoask a grown-up ong>toong> phone moong>theong>r or faong>theong>r; ong>theong>n ong>theong>y should go ong>toong> home ong>andong>lie down on ong>theong> couch, or go ong>toong> ong>theong> docong>toong>r or ong>toong> hospital. The ong>childrenong> alsopointed ong>toong> ong>theong>ir own role in consoling someone who has taken a tumble or isfeeling sad, ong>andong> help ong>theong>m by going ong>toong> one of ong>theong> grown-ups at ong>theong> day carecentre.Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were preoccupied with loyalty, accessibilityong>andong> confidentiality:• If a friend's health problem was serious, most of ong>theong>m were adamantthat you had ong>toong> ask that friend what it is that he or she wanted.Loyalty was at centre stage.• The public health nurse was ong>theong> most familiar adult ong>andong> one that mostong>childrenong> mentioned regardless of ong>theong> problem at hong>andong>. However,many informants viewed ong>theong> public health nurse as inaccessible. Shewas only ong>theong>re once a week, ong>andong> that was ong>toong>o little. Nor were ong>theong>y surewhich day ong>theong> public health nurse was at school, ong>andong> some said that itong>toong>ok ong>toong>o long ong>toong> get help. One said: "It ong>toong>ok me three months ong>toong> speak ong>toong>ong>theong> public health nurse".• The ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were concerned with wheong>theong>r ong>theong> adults ong>theong>y spokeong>toong> observed ong>theong>ir duty of confidentiality. Adults had ong>toong> be trusted inorder ong>toong> dare ong>toong> ong>reportong> anything. Some would feel awkward ong>andong> a littleembarrassed if ong>theong>y were seen on ong>theong>ir way ong>toong> ong>theong> public health nurse.Thoughts about ong>theong> futureThe closing questions in ong>theong> interviews ong>andong> questionnaires elicited ong>childrenong>’song>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s thoughts on ong>andong> views of ong>theong> future. Some of ong>theong>questions asked what ong>theong>y thought could be done ong>toong> bring about a betterchildhood environment, what youth measures ong>theong>y would prioritise if ong>theong>ywere politicians ong>andong> sat on ong>theong> municipal council, ong>andong> how ong>theong>y envisagedong>theong>ir lives in 10 years’ time. Thoughts ong>andong> opinions on ong>theong> future expressedby ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in ong>theong> eight participating municipalities roundoff ong>theong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> United Nations.– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 53


What improvements can be made ong>toong> ong>theong> conditions inwhich ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> grow up?Some of ong>theong> suggestions dealt with specific improvements in ong>theong> respondents’local environment, such as building a swimming pool, facilities for those notinvolved in sport ong>andong> music, more playgrounds, more moong>toong>rcross ong>andong> trialcircuits, better facilities for ong>theong> disabled ong>andong> persons in need of extra assistance,places ong>toong> stay on weekend evenings, more leisure activities ong>andong> a greaternumber of committed adults. Suggestions of a more general nature were alsomade such as introducing ong>theong> right ong>toong> vote at age 16 ong>andong> measures ong>toong> combatdrug ong>andong> alcohol problems. One respondent issued ong>theong> following call: "Spendmore time listening ong>toong> ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>andong> what we want!"Some suggestions were related ong>toong> improving schools• Better schools with textbooks for every pupil in every subject.• School canteen with hot meals!• Apprentice positions for pupils in vocational subjects.• Less bullying at school.• That teachers should see ong>toong> it that ong>theong>re is a good atmosphere amongong>theong> pupils.• It is important ong>toong> remember that ong>childrenong> are Norway's future, ong>theong>y areong>theong> ones who will be running this country ong>andong> make ong>theong> wheels goround. That’s why I feel it is important ong>toong> make sure that ong>theong> school isin a good state, getting a job must be straightforward, ong>theong>re must beenough leisure activities, ong>andong>, in particular, a moong>toong>rcross circuit must beset up.Oong>theong>r suggestions focused on ong>theong> environment• Better public transport ong>andong> better cycle paths are important!• CO 2emissions must be reduced.• Don’t litter ong>theong> countryside.• Don't build so many houses, ong>theong>y spoil ong>theong> countryside.• Less pollution! More woodlong>andong>s ong>andong> open air.• The environment ought ong>toong> be a major ong>theong>me at school, if not anoptional subject.Suggestions of a more personal nature:• Make friends ong>andong> be like everyone else.• Get a residence permit.54– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Imagine you were a politician…..Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were also asked, hypoong>theong>tically, what ong>theong>irpriorities would be if ong>theong>y were politicians: Imagine you are a politician witha seat on ong>theong> municipal council. You are going ong>toong> grant funds for youthprogrammes. What would you prioritise ong>andong> grant funds ong>toong>, if you had ong>toong>choose? Various answer options could be ticked off.The following programmes received most support from ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong>ong>peopleong>, in order of priority:1. Intensified programme ong>toong> combat crime ong>andong> violence.2. Intensified programme ong>toong> combat hash, drugs ong>andong> oong>theong>r use ofinong>toong>xicants.3. Intensified programme ong>toong> combat racism.4. Protection of ong>theong> environment.5. Gender equality.6. Outdoor recreation centre.7. Sports facilities.8. Funds available ong>toong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> who want ong>toong> do things on ong>theong>ir own.9. Recreational clubs10. Locales ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> can run ong>theong>mselves.It is interesting ong>toong> note that ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> gave priority ong>toong> combating crime,drugs ong>andong> oong>theong>r use of inong>toong>xicants raong>theong>r than ong>toong> oong>theong>r favoured measures.Imagine your life in 10 years' time. What thoughts do youhave about your own future?The answers showed that many ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>toong>ok a bright viewof ong>theong> future. Some had clear-cut plans as regards education ong>andong> career rangingfrom strip carong>toong>onist ong>toong> teacher, while oong>theong>rs wished ong>toong> realise a dream oftravelling round ong>theong> world on a moong>toong>rcycle. Some mentioned happiness ong>andong>good conditions for ong>theong>ir ong>childrenong> ong>toong> grow up in as visions for ong>theong> future. Butong>theong>re were also ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> with a more pessimistic view of ong>theong>future. The answers are grouped under ong>theong> following headings:– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 55


General optimism• I think I've got ong>toong> where I wanted ong>toong> be. I don't think ong>theong>re's anyproblem getting ong>theong>re if you just keep at it.• I think I'll have loads of opportunities in 10 years' time. As long as wetake care of what we’ve got. And I’ll have a good life 10 years fromnow if ong>theong>re’s a serious focus on ong>theong> ong>youngong>er generation. Young ong>peopleong>are ong>theong> future.• I have a lot of opportunities, I can nip down ong>toong> a cafe, get a job, house,ong>andong> I can be voted on ong>toong> ong>theong> municipal council.• If things turn out as I wish, I'll be a famous star in Hollywood.Pessimism ong>andong> uncertainty• I didn't think anything would become of me since I had a teacher whotreated me really unfairly. The teacher's pet was a girl, but me, a fewlads ong>andong> anoong>theong>r girl were ong>theong> teacher’s ‘pet hates’.• I can't manage ong>toong> think a great deal about it.• I'm pretty uncertain so far.Education ong>andong> occupation• Don't really know; I would like ong>toong> work at a ong>childrenong>'s home.• I've thought of going ong>toong> phoong>toong>graphy school ong>andong> becoming a phoong>toong>grapher.• I'm planning ong>toong> become a film animaong>toong>r or maybe strip carong>toong>onist. I'malso planning ong>toong> move abroad, ong>toong> ong>theong> US or Japan.• I want ong>toong> become a fireman / firewoman; ong>theong>re's a big chance that I'llget a job.• Footballer.• I'm going ong>toong> university ong>toong> get as high an education as possible.Family ong>andong> ong>childrenong>• Hope I get ong>theong> chance ong>toong> let my own ong>childrenong> play safely in ong>theong> streetong>andong> a fresh, green park near where I live. Hope that ong>theong>re won't be ong>toong>omany ong>peopleong> moving inong>toong> farming districts so we can keep our finecountryside.• Move inong>toong> my own flat ong>andong> raise a family.• I’m going ong>toong> be a teacher, have five ong>childrenong> ong>andong> live here.56– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


6 Summary ong>andong> conclusionsNorway ratified ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child on 8January 1991. All countries that have ratified ong>theong> Convention undertake ong>toong>ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir compliance every five years. Norway’s fourthong>reportong> is ong>toong> be delivered in spring 2008. As part of that ong>reportong> ong>theong> Ministry ofChildren ong>andong> Equality wished ong>toong> communicate ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’sviews on growing up in Norway, seen in relation ong>toong> some articles of ong>theong> ong>UNong>Convention. Eight municipalities were invited ong>toong> obtain ong>theong> views ofong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. They were ong>theong> Alna district of Oslo, Alta, Bjugn,Kauong>toong>keino, Lillesong>andong>, Song>andong>nes, Skedsmo ong>andong> Trondheim. NOVA wasasked ong>toong> provide guidance for ong>theong> project ong>andong> ong>toong> present ong>theong> results in anoverall ong>reportong>.Chapter 1, Background ong>andong> framework for ong>theong> projectThe chapter describes ong>theong> project’s organisational set-up ong>andong> implementation.Information was obtained from ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> on coreong>theong>mes such as awareness of ong>theong> Convention, well-being ong>andong> co-determinationat school, various forms of discrimination ong>andong> unfair treatment,leisure activities ong>andong> access ong>toong> health services. Six municipalities carried outquestionnaire-based surveys; three of ong>theong>m also employed qualitativeinterviews. Two municipalities confined ong>theong>mselves ong>toong> qualitative interviewswith various groups of informants. The survey contains information frompupils at all levels of ong>theong> compulsory school system, ong>andong>, in one municipality,also day care centre ong>childrenong> – in all 1,274 ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. Thisfigure includes information from minority, refugee ong>andong> asylum-seekingong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>childrenong> who are clients of ong>theong> child welfare service or oong>theong>rtargeted services – In all 32 ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. The samples are notdrawn in such a way as ong>toong> ensure representativity, or in such a way that ong>theong>results can be generalised, eiong>theong>r ong>toong> ong>theong> particular municipality or ong>toong> ong>theong>country as a whole.Chapter 2, Awareness of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> ChildThe survey showed that about half of ong>theong> interviewed ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong>ong>peopleong> were aware of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention. Awareness levels varied widely,however. In one municipality two out of three ong>reportong>ed that ong>theong>y knew ofong>theong> Convention. In one grade in anoong>theong>r municipality almost 86 per cent– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 57


eported ong>theong> same. Hence ong>theong> results are somewhat better than in an earliernational survey in which about 38 per cent in ong>theong> age range 15-24 answeredthat ong>theong>y knew of ong>theong> Convention (Norway’s third ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong>, 2003).The number of those who were aware of ong>theong> Convention was exceeded bythose who knew that ong>theong>y had rights at home, at school ong>andong> in ong>theong> widersociety. This is an understong>andong>able result in as much as ong>childrenong>’s rights areimpelled by several sources.Many knew little about ong>theong> subject matter of ong>theong> Convention, ong>andong> whatknowledge ong>theong>y possessed often came across as fragmentary. Several of ong>theong>qualitative quotes ong>andong> interviews none ong>theong> less revealed a high degree ofreflective ability, both with regard ong>toong> personal circumstances ong>andong> ong>toong> ong>theong>problems faced by ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in many oong>theong>r countries.Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were particularly concerned with equality ong>andong>fairness ong>andong> by ong>theong> fact that ong>theong>ir counterparts in oong>theong>r parts of ong>theong> worldface a more difficult life situation than ong>theong>y do ong>theong>mselves. It is worrying thatong>childrenong> from refugee services ong>andong> asylum reception centres appeared ong>toong> beless aware of ong>theong> Convention than oong>theong>rs.The answers showed that ong>childrenong>’s knowledge of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Conventionon ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child varied from one municipality ong>toong> ong>theong> next, indeedeven within ong>theong> same school ong>andong> grade. This can reasonably be interpreted inlight of differences in municipal organisation, differing priorities at schoolsong>andong> also among teachers. Despite ong>theong> fact that awareness of ong>theong> Conventionong>andong> of ong>theong>ir own rights had reached many ong>childrenong>, ong>theong>re are no institutionalsafeguards ong>toong> ensure that all ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> are made aware ofong>theong> Convention ong>andong> ong>theong>ir rights.Chapter 3, Children’s well-being ong>andong> co-determination at schoolChildren’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s answers showed that a large majority werehappy at school, in ong>theong>ir class/group ong>andong> at break time, from about 60 ong>toong>more than 90 per cent. This accords with findings in a series of oong>theong>r surveys(Bakken 2003, Kjærnsli et al. 2004). However, surveys also show that up ong>toong>20 per cent are not happy ong>andong>, in ong>theong> case of about 5 per cent of ong>theong> latter,life at school is onerous (Nordahl 2008). In ong>theong> present survey ong>toong>o a numberof pupils struggled with various aspects of school life due ong>toong> relations withfellow pupils ong>andong>/or teachers. A large majority had friends ong>andong> someone ong>toong>talk ong>toong>. At ong>theong> same time ong>theong> number ong>reportong>ing that ong>theong>y had friends ong>toong>spend time with far exceeded ong>theong> number who experienced school as acompletely safe ong>andong> secure place ong>toong> be. In one municipality more than 30 per58– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


cent stated that some pupils at school never left ong>theong>m in peace. In oong>theong>rwords friends do not provide sufficient protection.A majority of pupils also ong>reportong>ed being on good terms with ong>theong>irteacher, ong>andong> many mentioned examples of situations or teachers ong>theong>y werehappy with. But ong>theong>y also ong>reportong>ed wide differences between teachers ong>andong>unfair treatment of pupils by teachers. The difficulties of rectifyingcircumstances ong>theong>y were not happy with were pointed out. They felt boththat ong>theong>ir voice was not heard ong>andong> that criticism was not well received.There were fairly large variations from one municipality ong>toong> ong>theong> next asregards pupils' co-determination at school. Between 43 per cent ong>andong> 83 percent were of ong>theong> opinion that ong>theong>y received good tuition in co-determinationong>andong> participation. Between about 61 per cent ong>andong> 76 per cent consideredthat ong>theong> teachers encourage pupils ong>toong> participate in ong>theong> work of ong>theong> pupils'council. Between about 50 per cent ong>andong> 90 per cent or more said ong>theong>y‘agreed completely or ong>toong> some extent’ that ong>theong> pupils' council wielded largeinfluence or that its voice was at least heard. In general it can be said thatong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> desired a say in decision-making, ong>andong> that ong>theong>school went some way ong>toong>wards complying, but not as far as ong>theong> pupilsdesired.The pupils' answers showed that teachers play a key role in facilitatingtuition in ong>andong> practice of ong>childrenong>'s rights, ong>andong> it is clear from ong>theong> aboveparagraph that many teachers are doing a good job on this front. Even so ong>theong>pupils' answers indicated that fortuiong>toong>usness ? or ong>theong> individual teacher'spersonal motivation played ong>toong>o great a part in wheong>theong>r or not pupils receivedtuition in democratic processes, in wheong>theong>r or not ong>theong> stage was set for afunctioning pupil democracy ong>andong> wheong>theong>r or not ong>theong>y were treated withrespect. The pupils pointed out that ong>theong>ir personal commitment was alsoneeded if pupil democracy was ong>toong> work.Chapter 4, Discrimination ong>andong> unfair treatmentA large majority of ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> did not believe ong>theong>y weresubjected ong>toong> discrimination or unfair treatment at school. Given ong>theong> fact thatmost, by far, of ong>theong> pupils who ong>toong>ok part in ong>theong> survey were born in Norwayof Norwegian parents, this is not a surprising finding. To a specific questionon who, in ong>theong> event, perpetrated ong>theong> discrimination, several pupils said ong>theong>ywere subjected ong>toong> unfair treatment by pupils ong>andong> teachers alike. Between 33per cent ong>andong> 76 per cent said that ong>theong>y were never treated unfairly by– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 59


teachers. Several municipalities were struck by ong>theong> fact that from 10 ong>toong> 14 percent felt unfairly treated by teachers two ong>toong> three times a month or more.Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> of both Norwegian ong>andong> minority backgroundexpressed ong>theong> view that some discrimination was on grounds ofethnicity. In ong>theong> present survey as in many oong>theong>rs ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>with a non-Norwegian ethnic background said ong>theong>y were very happy atschool, even though ong>theong>y ong>reportong>ed, more often than ong>theong>ir Norwegiancounterparts, that ong>theong>y were not left in peace ong>andong> were subjected ong>toong> discrimination.Based on ong>theong> qualitative interviews, ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> may appear ong>toong> havetaken over ong>theong> wider society's critical gaze on ong>theong>mselves. When ong>reportong>ingexperiences of discriminaong>toong>ry or unfair treatment, ong>theong>y often added commentssuch as "I'm not playing ghetong>toong>, by ong>theong> way!" They levelled a similarlycritical gaze at oong>theong>rs with oong>theong>r ethnic origins. "We think like that ourselves,that foreigners make trouble!" Some highlighted bullying between differentimmigrant groups, a problem that has received little attention in Norway.A group that arouses particular concern is refugee ong>andong> asylum-seekingong>childrenong>. Not many such ong>childrenong> participated in ong>theong> present survey, butfrom Alta in ong>theong> north ong>toong> Song>andong>nes in ong>theong> south ong>theong>y ong>toong>ld of an absence offriends ong>andong> inclusion, ong>theong> discomfort of being placed in a separate class atschool, ong>theong> feeling of being deliberately excluded from ong>theong> society at large bylack of transport ong>toong> leisure activities, ong>andong> ong>theong> sense of poverty ong>andong> of living inconditions far poorer than those enjoyed by oong>theong>r ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>in Norway. This is serious feedback.Bullying is seen as a widespread problem at Norwegian primary schools.Like its predecessors, ong>theong> present survey confirmed that bullying takes placeon a substantial scale. 52 ong>andong> 67 per cent in two municipalities respectivelyong>reportong>ed that ong>theong>y had been subjected ong>toong> no bullying whatsoever, whilebetween 7 ong>andong> 8 per cent ong>reportong>ed being bullied two ong>toong> three times a monthor more. The respondents considered that demong>andong>s for a song>toong>p ong>toong> be put ong>toong>bullying ong>andong> for bullying ong>toong> have visible consequences in ong>theong> form ofpenalties, expulsion or oong>theong>r sanctions, should be effectively enforced.Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> expressed ong>theong> view that differentialtreatment of boys ong>andong> girls was frequent. Specifically, ong>theong> boys thought girlswere treated better ong>andong> faced laxer requirements in a number of areas. It wasnot clear wheong>theong>r ong>theong> girls agreed with ong>theong>se assessments ong>andong>, if so, wheong>theong>rong>theong>y regarded such discrimination as positive or negative.60– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


Chapter 5, Leisure, assistance services ong>andong> thoughts about ong>theong> futureThe interviews showed that ong>theong> municipalities offered a number of leisurefacilities. Most interviewees were happy with ong>theong> facilities available, althoughong>theong>y did have suggestions as regards oong>theong>r measures ong>theong>y would like ong>toong> seeintroduced. Many called for more facilities for unorganised ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>such as recreational clubs, places ong>toong> meet at weekends ong>andong> venues devoted ong>toong>unorganised sports. It is interesting ong>toong> compare this wish list with ong>theong>priorities ong>theong>y would have selected had ong>theong>y been politicians on ong>theong>municipal council: in that position ong>theong>y would have granted funds ong>toong>increase efforts ong>toong> combat crime ong>andong> violence, drugs ong>andong> racism!Several called for more facilities for unorganised youth ong>andong> venuesdevoted ong>toong> unorganised sports: "If you've got nothing ong>toong> do, you go out, wong>andong>eraround without purpose ong>andong> suddenly you start doing silly things" as one ong>youngong>person put it, referring ong>toong> ong>theong> drop in criminality that was seen after ong>theong>introduction of more facilities for unorganised youth where he was living.A majority decided over ong>theong>ir leisure activities ong>theong>mselves, although ong>theong>yalso discussed ong>theong> matter with ong>theong>ir parents. Some expressed ong>theong> view thaong>toong>bligations at home ong>toong>ok up ong>theong>ir leisure time. Poor finances also curbedong>theong>ir participation. Above all, ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> at asylum reception centres saidong>theong>y were unable ong>toong> participate in leisure activities on account of poorfinances.Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were generally fairly familiar with ong>theong>municipality's health ong>andong> social services ong>andong> knew where ong>toong> seek assistance ifong>theong>y or someone ong>theong>y knew had a health problem or difficulties at home.More of ong>theong>m knew where ong>toong> turn with a health problem than with problemsat home. Most of ong>theong>m, by far, would contact a public health nurse,although it was pointed out that she tended not ong>toong> be available. Oong>theong>rs alsomentioned a teacher or school counsellor, someone at ong>theong> recreational club, adocong>toong>r, psychologist or ong>theong> child welfare service. It was important for ong>theong>ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> that ong>theong> services were accessible ong>andong> that ong>theong> staff observed ong>theong>duty of confidentiality.ConclusionsThe survey showed that about half of ong>theong> ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in ong>theong>participating municipalities knew of ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights ofong>theong> Child. A higher proportion knew that ong>theong>y had rights. Teaching ong>andong>enforcement of ong>childrenong>'s rights at school ong>andong> in ong>theong>ir leisure time can– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 61


without doubt be improved. The survey brought ong>toong> light wide municipalvariations. Hence an important conclusion is that ong>theong>re are no institutionalsafeguards ong>toong> ensure that ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in Norway are madeaware of ong>theong> Convention, of ong>theong>ir own rights ong>andong> ong>theong> significance ong>toong> ong>theong>m ofsuch rights.Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> were quick ong>toong> respond on ong>theong> issue ofdeciding over ong>theong>ir personal everyday life. One ong>youngong> person put it asfollows: "Just because we have a good life doesn’t mean that we can demong>andong>everything we want. We also have obligations." They were also preoccupiedwith combating bullying ong>andong> discrimination in Norway, ong>andong> ong>childrenong>'ssituation in oong>theong>r parts of ong>theong> world meant a lot ong>toong> ong>theong>m. It will be importantong>toong> build on this readiness ong>toong> assume responsibility in ong>theong> furong>theong>r planning oftuition in ong>childrenong>'s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>'s rights.62– NOVA Report 2b/08 –


BibliographyBakken, A. (2003). Minoritetsspråklig ungdom i skolen. Oslo: NOVA rapport 13/03TranslateMinistry of Children ong>andong> Family Affairs/Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2003). The Rightsof ong>theong> Child. Norway’s third ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> United Nations Committee on ong>theong> Rights ofong>theong> Child 2003.Ministry of Children ong>andong> Family Affairs (2005). Examination of Norway’s third ong>reportong>ong>toong> ong>theong> United Nations on compliance with ong>theong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child.Concluding comments from ong>theong> ong>UNong> Committee on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child.Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality (2006a). Children’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s participationong>andong> influence – information ong>andong> guidance for municipalities. Circular Q-27/2006 B.(Norwegian only)Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality (2006b). Hong>andong>book on youth councils. (Norwegianonly)Ministry of Children ong>andong> Equality (2007). From day care ong>toong> website – examples ofong>childrenong>’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s participation in municipalities.Forong>andong>ringsfabrikken (‘Change Facong>toong>ry’) (2003). Life before 18. Dreams – ideas – life.Young ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child 02/03.(Norwegian only)Norwegian Children ong>andong> Youth Council (2004). Supplementary ong>reportong> 2004 ong>toong>Norway’s third ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> United Nations Committee on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child2003.Kjærnsli, M., Lie, S., Olsen, R. V., Roe, A. ong>andong> Turmo, A (2004). Right track or goingnowhere? Norwegian pupils’ performances in maong>theong>matics, natural science ong>andong> reading inPISA 2003. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. (Norwegian only)Lidén, H. (2003). Youth council – a political playroom? In F. Engelstad ong>andong> G.Ødegaard (ed.): Youth, power ong>andong> meaning. Oslo: Gyldendal, 93-120. (Norwegian only)Lidén, H. (2004). Children’s rights – a realisable intention? Tidsskrift for Velferdsforskning,7, 4, 196-212. (Norwegian only)Nordahl, T. (2008). Schools’ mission ong>andong> task. In Barndomsboken. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.In press. (Norwegian only)Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (2005). ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong>Child – from vision ong>toong> municipal reality. Oslo: University of Oslo. (Norwegian only)Vestel, V., Ødegård, G,, Øia, T. (2003). The road ong>toong> power ong>andong> ‘ong>theong> good life’? Evaluationof ong>theong> effort ong>toong> promote ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s participation in Porsgrunn municipality. Oslo:NOVA ong>reportong> 8/03. (Norwegian only)– Children ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong>ir rights – 63


The municipal ong>reportong>s:- Alna district of ong>theong> City of Oslo: Eivind Fivelsdal ong>andong> Monika Rosten (2007). Aboutong>theong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child, from ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in ong>theong> Alna district ofOslo. (Norwegian only)Alta municipality: Siss-Mari Solli (2007). Alta municipality’s contribution ong>toong> Norway’sfourth ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child. User surveysconducted in spring 2007. (Norwegian only)Bjugn municipality: Rita Sundet (2007). ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child –ong>reportong> from ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. (Norwegian only)Lillesong>andong> municipality: Marte Skippervold (2007). ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights ofong>theong> Child – ong>reportong> from ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>. (Norwegian only)Song>andong>nes municipality: Tone Strømø, Gurid Lomelong>andong>, Kirsten Svindlong>andong> (2007).Children’s ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong>’s thoughts on ong>theong> ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong>Child ong>andong> ong>theong> right ong>toong> be heard. (Norwegian only)Skedsmo municipality: Guri Sæong>theong>r (2007). ong>UNong> Convention on ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong>Child – ong>reportong> from ong>childrenong> ong>andong> ong>youngong> ong>peopleong> in Skedsmo municipality. (Norwegianonly).Trondheim municipality: May-Iren Skamfer Evensmo (2007). Trondheimmunicipality’s contribution ong>toong> Norway’s fourth ong>reportong> ong>toong> ong>theong> ong>UNong> on ong>theong> Conventionon ong>theong> Rights of ong>theong> Child. (Norwegian only)The participating municipalities’ internet addresses:www.bydel-alna.oslo.kommune.nowww.alta.kommune.nowww.bjugn.kommune.nowww.kauong>toong>keino.kommune.nowww.lillesong>andong>.kommune.nowww.song>andong>nes.kommune.nowww.skedsmo.kommune.nowww.trondheim.kommune.no64– NOVA Report 2b/08 –

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines