Medical Child Kidnapping: Could a Norwegian Scandal Soon Hit the U.S.?

August 28, 2018

by Karen R. Effrem, MD


The BBC recently did a profile piece discussing Norway’s child protection system, which is based on its strict enforcement of its United Nations-approved child development standards that include social emotional learning (SEL) standards and work via government home visits.

The BBC, which is not exactly a conservative media outlet, summarized the Norwegian situation as follows:

The UN rates Norway one of the best countries for a child to grow up in. And yet too many children, according to a large number of Norwegian experts, are taken into [government] care without good reason. The conviction of a top psychiatrist in the child protection system for downloading child abuse [pornography] images is now raising further serious questions.

The body of the article describes two heart-breaking stories of children removed from their homes based on the flimsiest of excuses. The first is the story of Cecilie, a single mother who lost her daughter because the state psychologist and psychiatrist saw one cobweb on the ceiling and determined that giving her daughter gingerbread bought on sale after Christmas was indicative of inability to economically or developmentally provide for her child. Cecilie has only been able to see her daughter seven times over several years.

The other portrait of bureaucratic tyranny portrays the story of Inez, a mother of eight, who was arrested for hitting one of her sons to prevent him from injuring a younger sibling that he was hitting. For this, she was arrested and jailed, and the government in 2013 took the younger four children away. She was acquitted of all abuse charges against her in 2016, after which, the two older children were returned. However, the younger two children were kept by the state, despite a recommendation by two of the nation’s leading psychologists that they be returned to the mother. Only now, five years later, are they about to be returned. During that time, Inez and her husband were initially allowed to see their children four times a year and speak to them for only fifteen minutes once per month.

In both cases, one of the government “experts” responsible for taking Cecilie’s child away and for continuing to keep Inez’s two younger children in government “care” is a psychiatrist who has lost his license and is spending two years in jail after being convicted of downloading thousands of images and thousand of hours of video depicting child pornography that include infant sexual abuse and child rape. Yet, the government refuses to review or reverse any of the cases on which he gave expert comment, and, as far as is known, his own children are still in their home.

Here in the U.S., while not on a national level, there are certainly cases of this kind of bureaucratic tyranny resulting in medical kidnapping. Consider, for example, the case of Justina Pelletier, who was held for 16 months by psychiatrists at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families who believed that her diagnosis of a physical mitochondrial disorder was instead a psychiatric disorder and performed experiments on her. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel described the terrible conditions under which she was kept:

“Inmates in Massachusetts are entitled to regular visits, education, and medical care. Justina has been treated worse by DCF than incarcerated felons. She has one-hour, supervised visitation per week, no education, and abysmal medical care,” said Staver. “DCF has knowingly violated the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, because the agency has refused to provide Justina with any education for two academic years, let alone the education to which she is entitled to receive because of her learning disability. For 13 months, DCF has refused to allow any clergy to visit Justina. And on top of it all, DCF has lost track of 134 children in its custody. How can you trust a government agency that acts like this? Someone should be held accountable,” said Staver.

This case resulted in the introduction of Justina’s Law by a bipartisan group of House legislators to prevent this kind of experimentation on children deemed wards of the state. Sadly, the bill died in Congress, likely due to pressure from the pharmaceutical industry.

An older but equally appalling case involving the mental health system and alleged psychiatric experts is that of Texas teenager Aliah Gleason. Aliah, a 13-year-old student, was psychiatrically kidnapped and forcibly drugged after her parents refused to comply with a recommended evaluation and treatment from a mental health screening:

The Gleasons would not be allowed to see or even speak to their daughter for the next five months, and Aliah would spend a total of nine months in a state psychiatric hospital and residential treatment facilities. While in the hospital, she was placed in restraints more than 26 times and medicated – against her will and without her parents’ consent – with at least 12 different psychiatric drugs, many of them simultaneously.

These are just two of many cases that are becoming far too common for comfort in a free republic. American policymakers should be aware of this as both SEL and home visiting programs received new life in the unfortunate budget deals in Congress. And after various school shootings, many states, like Texas and Florida, and school districts like Miami-Dade, are contemplating expansion of grossly inaccurate mental screening and other mental health programs that can result in increased prescription rates of toxic medications that can actually cause violence, all in the name of violence prevention.

Opponents to these kinds of programs received some good news recently as liberal Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed some egregious SEL programs in that state. However, parents and freedom-lovers need to continue their vigilance to protect the minds, hearts, and futures of children.


Dr. Karen Effrem and her husband have three children. She is trained as a pediatrician and serves as national education issues chairman for Eagle Forum and president of Education Liberty Watch.

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