Feb 22, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall

Authorities In Norway Return Son Taken From Parents For Homeschooling, But With Conditions

After taking the child from his home by force, Barnevernet, Norway's child services authorities, have returned a 12-year-old boy to his parents, Leif and Terese Kristiansen. The Kristiansens announced on Wednesday that their son, Kai, whom they had decided to temporarily homeschool after he had been severely bullied, had returned, but with a few conditions.

"We are very pleased to announce that Kai is back in his home with his family. We're very happy to see him again," Leif Kristiansen said in a Facebook post. "We couldn't have done this without international support from others who have contributed to us getting him back home. We are forever grateful."

The Kristiansens made headlines last week when Leif posted a now-deleted viral video on Facebook taken as their son was being chased around by police and Barnevernet agents, before eventually being tackled like a criminal and sat on in the snow while his mother cried for help.

The Kristiansens say they removed Kai from his school because he was being bullied and harassed. They maintain that they filled out the proper paperwork to disenroll Kai from school and that their plan was to temporarily homeschool him until another school was found, but that there was a "misunderstanding".

"He didn't have approval for homeschooling, even though we let them know and we followed the law," Kristiansen said. "It was a complete misunderstanding and it was a bit extreme to go this far."

Although a county board initially approved Kai's removal from his home days later, the family had an appeal hearing last Thursday. Thousands of supporters were left in suspense for days as the Kristiansens did not post an immediate update until yesterday.

"Our lawyer advised us not to announce here on Facebook before Kai was back home," Kristiansen explained in his update. "We had to consent to an agreement with conditions that are not completed until [May]. This is an exhausting process, but a small price to pay to get Kai back home."

Raymond Skorstad, CEO of the Norway-based child advocacy organization Barnets Beste, reported that the conditions of Kai's return are that the Kristiansens had to surrender their passports to the government until May 3. Additionally, the couple agreed to attend meetings and have the school's psychological service "assist" Kai.

While Skorstad said these were "reasonable terms," the hideously forceful act of essentially kidnapping Kai from his home was "still a brutal invasion of the Kristiansens rights to private life."

Far from an isolated incident, Norway's Barnevernet agency is the repeated target of international criticism and protest for being too quick or unjustified in its removal of children from parents.

Notable cases include the removal of five children from the home of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu, a Romanian Christian couple living in Norway, because the Bodnarius used spanking in disciplining their children, and Amy Jacobsen, an American mother living in Norway, whose toddler son was taken over a breastfeeding issue and hasn't been seen since 2014.

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