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Children must be taken seriously

"I'm sick, but they will get to know everything". These are the words of a teenager with cancer in the early 1980s. He, like so many other children, did not get information about his illness and had to interpret the signals from a sick body as best he could. Another glimpse into a time nearly 40 years ago; died a child, so was skolepulten carried out and little, if anything, was said about why. Some cancer ridden children experienced the same, they came back to a classroom where they were already written off and the desk carried out or taken over by another.

HELP: Atle Dyregrov. Photo: NTB Scanpix Show more

the Culture was barnefiendtlig, the children were banned from conversations, rituals, and had to grope their way in their understanding of the painful life events. Knowledge about grief and trauma and how this affects the children and what is best for them was to say the least inadequate. It was, in fact, international professionals who believed that children under or of early school age could not be sure because they do not have the mental prerequisites for it.

HELP: Magne the valley of raundalen. Photo: Steinar Buholm. Show more

It was this reality we put ourselves lead to change. As psychologists on Barneklinikken at Haukeland hospital, we had a front row seat to a psychologically "sick" society where children were not taken seriously. We wrote op-eds and books, book chapters and professional articles, but not least, we held seminars for teachers around the country.

We shall not say that we have the credit for the kulturrevolusjon that followed, but we helped. Here we can also thank the children who gave us a lesson we never forget, who we got shortly after we had "taken" Barneklinikken. Kreftlegen had under doubt accepted an order from her parents that the cancer was not mentioned, all would say that the medicine works, you are well, done with it.

After a couple of meetings he realized that we were different and he exclaimed suddenly: "You must get me to another hospital. Any time the King, for here they understand how sick I am!" We got very clear to us who were our clients. We created the slogan "respect for children's understanding", and the Ombudsman established a phone line for children with the title "Ready message".

Children at a hospital, not that "mom's job should be to keep me stuck" Debate

Gradually changed attitudes, the child's need for good explanations and open, direct and truthful information was incorporated into the routines in hospitals, in kindergartens and schools. When we wrote about the need for contingency plans in the school this was followed up, and the schools were among the first who developed the plans that talked about how children and young people could be followed up in a good way. When we suggested the creation of a crisis team in the mid-1980s, before this became a reality, was it not, at least on the basis of our experience with inadequate assistance to families with children who experienced sudden deaths.

cultural revolution aimed at a hot the safeguarding of children who experienced the crisis has spread to a general understanding of the importance of protecting the families when the worst happens. That in Norway today there are crisis team that is set up for families after homicide, suicide, accidents, and disasters reflect the change that gradually occurred with the assumption that children and families had to meet in a better way when the crisis hit.

This did not happen without resistance, competent professionals called it "luxury" and thought it was good enough with the social support provided by friends and family in such situations. But our experience and research has shown that it is not an either or, but a both and. We need our social environment, but we also need professional good follow-up.

Why this the cultural revolution has been so important. Children need to understand what is happening in their vicinity. They lose a mother or father, sister or brother, so strive they with to understand. They need adult support to build a timeline of what is happening, they need to understand what happened, their own and others ' reactions, and they need context for their experiences. Without good, safe adults around them who get good advice about how children can be protected, we risk that they develop fantasies, misunderstand what happened or reactions they experience, or use mestringsmetoder that turn back later.

So, you help children who have anxiety

Parents need help for their own reactions, so that their foreldrekapasitet being the least impaired. When children are included in the ritual, call of the dead, burial, and minneseremoni, helps it to realize the loss and to the understanding of what happens with the dead. But, it is a short distance between what is good for the child and can provide additional loads. Good advice from up to date professionals is a prerequisite for good krisepsykologi.

Is everything good now? Although much improved, can we not, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Still we get reports that children's needs must yield, because the adults think it is too painful to inform children about what is bad and difficult. A suicide can be rewritten as a hjertedødsfall, or important information be omitted, because a think the child is too small to understand.

When the mental pain is heavy, the adults pushed children's needs further. Then make a choice that provides less pain now, but that can give a lot of pain later. Therefore, it is very good that we have got a law that ensures the children as dependents. It is also important that we continue to put children's needs on the map. Children need the facts about what has happened and what is happening, but they also need a lot of forståelsesinformasjon so that the reality which surrounds them is simple-to-understand. The cultural revolution was highly necessary, but it must be kept alive for future generations.

Myths about the høybegavede children Columnist
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