Homeschooled Boy Tackled by Police in Norway

Petition to: Norway's Embassy in the United States

 

Homeschooled Boy Tackled by Police in Norway

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27,963 people have signed. Help us reach 50,000 signatures.

Homeschooled Boy Tackled by Police in Norway

What should have been a happy homecoming to Norway for Leif and Terese Kristiansen turned into a parent’s worst nightmare when the Barnevernet (Norway’s child welfare agency) brutally removed their son, Kai, after they started homeschooling.

The family had been living in Canada, where Terese and Kai are citizens. They returned recently to Norway in search of new opportunities. But at the local public school, 12-year-old Kai became the victim of merciless bullying. School officials did not resolve the situation.

To protect Kai from further trauma, his parents did the responsible and loving thing: they removed him from the public school and immediately began to homeschool him. By choosing to homeschool their son, the Kristiansens did what the state or public school would not do . . . keep Kai safe and provide him with a healthy learning environment.

As if being the victim of school bullying wasn’t enough, on Thursday, February 9, 12-year-old Kai was hunted down and then tackled in the snow by Barnevernet agents and police.

You can watch an edited version of the video here (WARNING—the video contains violence against a child and may be extremely upsetting.)

In a Facebook video of the incident that has already been watched over 600,000 times, Kai’s mother, Terese, looks on in terror, screaming for help as Kai is chased by the police and the Barnevernet. “My son is being stolen by Barnevernet in Norway because we want to homeschool!” Terese shouted as helpless friends and neighbors watched.  

Kai can be heard screaming “No!” over and over as the police and a Barnevernet investigator attempt to subdue him and take him into custody pursuant to an order from the local authorities. 

The 12-year-old was ordered into state custody because his family chose to homeschool.  This incident adds to the troublesome track record of the Barnevernet. 

According to Ray Skorstad, a legal administrator and founder of Barnets Beste, an organization that assists parents who have had their children taken into custody by the Barnevernet, the seizure of Kai was a “brutal invasion of the family without sufficient justification.” Skorstad added that “the primary reason for taking the child was that he was not in school.”

HSLDA Director of Global Outreach Michael Donnelly spoke with Kai’s mother, Terese. “We had hoped that we would be welcomed in our own home country,” she told him. “But I am living a nightmare; I can’t believe what they did to my son.”

Donnelly has previously seen the overreach of the Barnevernet through his work on behalf of the Bodinarius family, whose children were taken because Norwegian authorities said they disagreed with the Christian values of the parents.

Donnelly said that it’s especially important for the homeschool community to support families in cases such as these. 

“An attack like this is an attack on homeschooling,” he said. “Parents are the ones who have the right to decide how their children are educated and what is best for them. Parents do not have to give a reason for homeschooling, but the Kristiansens were well-justified in taking their son out of school in order to keep him from being bullied.”

“Homeschooling is no justification to take a child by force,” he added. “This action was a gross violation of Kai’s human rights and his parents’ rights. We are calling on Norwegian officials to immediately return Kai to his parents. We will do whatever we can to see justice done for Kai.”

“As of right now, the family has been permitted only one weekly supervised two-hour visit with Kai. Although a court hearing is scheduled for February 15, it would be a miracle if the authorities were to immediately release Kai. Let’s pray that happens,” he concluded.

Skorstad said that the family’s decision to remove their son from school is what drove the state to act. “The authorities wrote that the boy needs to be in school for socialization purposes.” 

Barnevernet officials had said the family were “avoiding them,” and when the parents decided to homeschool Kai, they took custody. 

The family’s Oslo-based lawyer, Trond Olsen Næss, has denied Barnevernet’s allegation, saying that the family had been in contact with the authorities, but that the agency had moved too fast.

We are asking concerned people and homeschooling families all over the world to sign the petition and to contact the Norwegian Embassy in their country to demand justice for Kai and to acknowledge that homeschooling is not a legitimate reason to forcibly remove a child from a family.

Through our Homeschool Freedom Fund, HSLDA will be standing with the Kristiansen family, providing support and counsel. We are committed to following this case even to the European Court of Human rights if necessary.

For more information, click here: hslda.org/freekai

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Petition to: Norway's Embassy in the United States

Dear Representatives of the Embassy of Norway in the United States,

CC. Norway's Child Welfare Services (Barnevernet),

I am appalled by the treatment of Kai Kristiansen and his family by Norway’s Child Welfare Agency (Barnevernet).

After moving to Norway about a year ago from Canada, Kai experienced severe bullying from his classmates. So his parents did what any responsible and loving parents would do, they removed him from school to homeschool him and protect him from further trauma.

Although home education is explicitly permitted in Norway, instead of respecting the Kristiansens’ right to make this decision, Barnevernet and police agents chased Kai down like a common criminal. They tackled him in front of his mother and neighbors.  Ignoring Kai’s screams, the agents smothered him in the snow to subdue him. This harrowing incident was captured on video by Kai’s mother, Teresa, and it has already been viewed almost 600,000 times on Facebook alone. Kai is now in state custody and is only permitted one - two-hour supervised visit with his parents.

This atrocious treatment of Kai because of homeschooling is intolerable.  International law recognizes that parents have a fundamental right to decide how their children are educated (see the Rio Principles) and families have a right to privacy and protection from unwarranted state intrusion (see the European Convention on Human Rights). Even when the state has a reason to intervene, such violent action is never acceptable except in the direst of circumstances.

The international community is rightly outraged by the treatment of Kai Kristiansen and his family, and I am writing to call for immediate action on the part of Norway’s government to remedy this gross violation of the family’s rights.  Kai must be released to his family immediately, and the family protected from further trauma.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Homeschooled Boy Tackled by Police in Norway

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050,000
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27,963 people have signed. Help us reach 50,000 signatures.