Combining Public Health Approaches with Increased Focus on Risk and Safety: A Norwegian Experience

  • Bente Heggem KojanEmail author
  • Edgar Marthinsen
  • Graham Clifford
Part of the Child Maltreatment book series (MALT, volume 9)


This chapter discusses child welfare and child protection policies in relation to public health in Norway, and especially the move towards risk-assessment models in thinking, reporting and assessing based on an individual focus on families and children. The aims and policies may reach towards a public health model, but seems related to other policies and ideas than earlier. We discuss how there is a shift from social planning for a welfare state concerned with well-being for all, towards a state concerned with risk and moral order. What started as an increase interpreted as child abuse and neglect seems to have continued into a social space of concern for children’s lives in general, and especially those who may be regarded as in need or at risk. Our empirical data suggest those with multiple challenges for services receive least help. Systems are controlled and monitored by goal attainment measures, deadlines and performance indicators, rather than focussing on people’s needs. Part of the difficulty we encounter in seeing child welfare in a health or public health perspective seems to be that there is scarce room for long-term investment in marginalized and/or families in need. Public health ideals about promoting enhanced living conditions as well as good health and happiness, has not been realized as a practice within the Norwegian child welfare and protection system, despite its long tradition of a social democratic system orientation.


Child protection Families in need Public health Risk assessment Social work 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bente Heggem Kojan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Edgar Marthinsen
    • 1
  • Graham Clifford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social WorkNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway

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