Free Legal Aid for Norwegian Children Facing Online Abuse
If your child experiences online abuse, you have the right to receive free legal assistance.
Choose language in the Google-box below. Some translations may be flawed or inaccurate.
The act of an adult or adolescent attempting to befriend a child with the malicious intention of abuse is called “grooming.” This false friendship can be cultivated through various means, including online chats, games, and virtual meetups. Over time, through manipulative tactics, the abuser may succeed in obtaining explicit images of the child or teenager. Additionally, abusers may exert control over their victims by resorting to threats and coercion.
You are entitled to get free legal assistance in the following circumstances:
- To assist in reporting the matter.
- To be present during interrogations.
- To guide the victim.
- To assist during the investigation.
“In the majority of cases, you have the right to receive up to three hours of free legal counsel to assess a criminal offense, and this includes deciding whether you wish to report it or not. These three hours can be utilized flexibly and can encompass various forms of communication, such as in-person meetings, phone calls, email correspondence, or text messages,” advises attorney Stephanie Bruun of the Bredesen law firm.
Is government approval required in each case to ensure the assistance remains free? In other words, is there a possibility that the support might incur costs?
“There is no risk of incurring expenses when you reach out to us for a case assessment. Although exceptionally rare, there might be situations where the assistance isn’t covered by public legal aid schemes, but we always communicate this to the client beforehand. An invoice is never issued unless there is a prior agreement with those seeking our assistance,” clarifies Bruun.
Is it possible to secure legal representation in the case of an attempted assault?
“Yes, the regulations concerning the right to legal counsel and the provision of free case assessments also extend to situations involving attempted assaults. This is because, in most cases, attempts are subject to legal penalties.”
What constitutes sufficient evidence to convict an abuser?
“It varies from case to case. As legal counsel, we typically conduct a thorough evaluation of the available evidence in a case before proceeding, and we guide the client on what key elements should be presented. Examples of evidence may include photographic documentation of injuries, DNA evidence, communication records from platforms like Messenger, SMS, or Snapchat, eyewitness accounts, diaries, medical records from healthcare professionals, and more. This list is not exhaustive. In cases of sexual assault, it is crucial to promptly secure evidence. We strongly recommend contacting a sexual assault center or the police for evidence preservation as soon as possible, including documenting any online correspondence.”
What is the typical timeframe between an online assault and parents reaching out for assistance?
“The timeframe varies significantly. Some individuals contact us relatively quickly, while for others, it may take longer. It is advisable to reach out to the authorities and legal support as soon as possible since this preserves the integrity of evidence and allows for early intervention. However, it’s important to note that shame and fear can delay disclosure, and victims may need time to come forward,” advises Stephanie Bruun.
At what age can someone contact a lawyer regarding online abuse without involving their parents?
“For the initial consultation, there is no requirement for parental involvement. This is determined during our conversation with the individuals who reach out to us. Additionally, it is a legal right that individuals who have reached the age of 15 have the autonomy to act as a party in their case and decide how these rights are exercised without involving their parents. The question of parental involvement is a matter we discuss with those seeking our assistance.”
Stine Sofie’s Foundation: Questions and Answers
Stine Sofie’s Foundation offers a comprehensive resource of questions and answers addressing abuse. The foundation highlights several scenarios in which individuals have the right to seek assistance from a victim support lawyer (refer to question 2.8).
Tips from Barnevakten
- To address potential online issues, parents can positively engage themselves with their child’s digital life. This approach, ideally, reduces the hesitation of children to reach out to their parents when confronted with serious matters.
- Children might have concerns that disclosing negative experiences could lead to their parents confiscating their phones.
- There’s a worry among children that parents might take complete control of the situation, causing them to relinquish all authority. Suddenly, the involvement of the police, lawyers, school authorities, and other parents may ensue, even in less severe cases.
- Familiarize yourself with the strategies employed by online abusers and educate your child about them.
- Teach your children how to take screen evidence.
- While you may not directly file reports with the police’s online patrol, you can provide them with tips regarding potential abuse. Additionally, you can submit tips or initiate police reports through their official websites.
- Children have the option to engage in secure chats with the police.
- For further articles and guidance, visit the Barnevakten homepage dedicated to addressing “grooming” issues.
(Translated from Norwegian by Ratan Samadder)