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BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
BRIS Report 2004
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BRIS Report 2004

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  • 1. 04 The BRIS Report Calls and e-mails to BRIS 2004
  • 2. the bris report 2004 : contents Contents: The BRIS Report2004 1. Summary ....................................................................................................5 2. Total supportive contacts with children in 2004 ..................................6 3. Calls from children and young people.................................................12 4. Test calls ...................................................................................................18 5. Assignments.............................................................................................19 6. BRIS.se.......................................................................................................21 7. The BRIS-mail ..........................................................................................22 8. Discussion Forums..................................................................................25 9. Ask the Lawyer ........................................................................................27 10. Calls from Adults ....................................................................................28 11. Focal areas................................................................................................31 12. What makes the children happy? A salutogenetic perspective.......34Responsible editor: Kerstin Thuresson, Chairman BRIS National Association | Text: Gunnar Sandelin, Press Secretary BRISResearch: Peter Irgens, R&D Secretary BRIS | Design and production: IK Stockholm | Stockholm February 2005 3Thanks to Johnér/Sven Olof Jonn | All photos © Sven Olof Jonn/Johnér. | Translation: Eqvator AB
  • 3. the bris report 2004 4
  • 4. the bris report 2004 : summary Summary Calls and e-mails with suicide while almost as many were about self- BRIS’ support services for children and young people destructiveness; the latter showed an increase of more1 are based on the Children’s Helpline and, for the last than 40 percent compared to 2003. four years, on the BRIS-mail. In 2004, BRIS volunteers Many girls that e-mail BRIS have had thoughts of answered a total of just over 22,000 supportive oral and suicide for a long time; some have attempted suicide written contacts from children and young people, of several times. It is also common that girls with suicidal which just over 14,000 were calls and almost 8,000 and self-destructive tendencies have little faith in adults were e-mails. In total, there were as many contacts and prior negative experience of professional help. BRIS with children in the past year as in 2003, but the trend has therefore demanded that the government make is for e-mails to increase about as much as the statisti- great investments in preventative measures. cally recorded calls decrease. Beyond the statistically recorded child contacts, just Perpetrator profile over 40,000 shorter, so-called test calls came in and Physical and sexual abuse of children is usually com- almost 2,000 e-mails were answered informatively. mitted in the home. According to the children’s own Girls seek help to a greater extent than boys: in total, information, 85 percent of the physical abuse and half almost eight out of ten of the statistically recorded of the sexual abuse takes place in the home. As a rule contacts concern girls. The average age is 14 and those the abuse is committed by someone close, usually a who e-mail are on average somewhat older than those parent. The perpetrator is in most cases a man, and the who call. victim is most often a girl. The contact area that tops the list both with regard to calls and e-mails is family conflicts, which includes Adult Helpline everything from normal emancipation processes to con- In 2004, just over 2,100 calls to BRIS’ Adult Helpline – flicts that entail physical and sexual abuse, where cul- About Children were statistically recorded, which is a tural clashes with teenagers in immigrant families also decrease of almost five percent compared to the year occur. In general, however, it is more common to write before. It is primarily the child’s parents or other relatives “ Many girls that e-mail BRIS have had thoughts of suicide for a long time, some have attempted about internal problems such as issues of suicide and self-destructiveness, while children and young people prefer to talk about external victimisation such as bully- ing and physical and sexual abuse. who call with worries and questions about the child con- cerned. In three-fourths of the cases the adult caller is a woman. This pattern is consistent from year to year. Adults are primarily worried about young children; the average age is 10.5. Adults also call relatively more suicide several times. Mental illness in young girls often about boys even if the calls dealing with girls In 2003, BRIS reported on the unexpectedly large increase are in the majority. The calls from adults are most of e-mails from girls with problems of suicide; in the year often about different conflicts in the family, mainly prior it primarily concerned self-destructiveness, such as divorce and its consequences for the children, but cutting oneself. During 2004 the increase continued in also about the child’s mental health and problems in both of these areas where nearly 1,600 contacts dealt the parental role. 5
  • 5. the bris report 2004 : total supportive contacts with children Total supportive contacts with children 2004 2 Background For the first time, BRIS can present the total number of supportive contacts with children and young peo- ple during a year in more detail. This means that all statistically processed and better-documented con- tacts on the Children’s Helpline and the BRIS-mail have been compiled and analysed to the furthest pos- This is because BRIS is no longer synonymous with a helpline: even if the statistically recorded call volume is still twice as large as the e-mail volume, the gap is nar- rowing. In 2004 the trend of increased e-mailing and decreased calling continued. Both contact channels complement each other and are now equally important parts of the fundamental support, even though e-mail sible extent. support has only been around for a few years. A A Statistically recorded contacts with children 1991-2004 Additional information on supportive contacts and case descriptions can be found in ! the chapters on the Children’s Helpline (page 12) and the BRIS-mail (page 22). 6
  • 6. the bris report 2004 : total supportive contacts with childrenCalls and e-mails in 2004 Yet in total there are probably more boys that with teenagers in immigrant families also occur,In 2004, BRIS statistically recorded 22,133 supportive contact BRIS, but their calls most often occur in test where traditions, values and expectations differ fromcontacts with children and young people, of which calls and are usually too inarticulate or incomplete what is perceived as the norm in Sweden. Children14,450 were calls and 7,683 were e-mails, which in to be able to be documented (see the chapter on Test and young people call about problems in the family,total is almost exactly the same as last year. calls page 18). which can be between the adults, between parents This means that two thirds were calls and one- Family conflicts constitute an area that leads by and children, or between siblings; but it is mostthird e-mails. Consequently BRIS had almost 2,000 far with more than four thousand contacts; this is common that the caller has him or herself come intocontacts with children every month, or just over 400 the most common reason both to call and e-mail conflict with mum and/or dad. Here, there are alsoa week. In total, almost eight out of ten of the statis- BRIS. This heading can include everything from nor- children who cannot adjust to the new family con-tically recorded contacts concerned girls. The ave- mal emancipation processes to conflicts that entail stellations that have arisen when the parents getrage age is 14. physical and sexual abuse, where culture clashes divorced and meet new partners, who themselves may also have children. Bullying is something that children would much rather call about than write about. A large majority of the more than three thousand contacts that speak B The 15 most common contact topics in calls and e-mails from children of the victimisation of bullying take place on the Children’s Helpline, where slightly more than every sixth call deals with this topic. Even if there was a break in the trend this year, bullying has long been the single most common reason for calling BRIS and is also an area where calls considerably more often concern boys. The child contacting us has often been victimised for a long time, but tried in vain to talk with other adults about their situation. Bullying is one of the few areas where it is particularly clear that children’s experiences differ from those of the adult world, as the children often think that adults cannot take the signals seriously. BRIS believes this experience can lead to a nega- tive self-image of being a “bullying victim” that can also become self-fulfilling. But we also want to emphasize that the children who contact us are not representative of an average student, and that there are naturally many adults in our schools who listen, act and implement effective measures against bully- ing. It can also be worth mentioning that it doesThis figure reflects what the calls and e-mails both primarily and secondarily dealt with. occur that the bully him or herself also calls BRIS toAs more than one contact topic can be dealt with in one call/e-mail, the total percentage exceeds 100 percent. get support. 7
  • 7. the bris report 2004 : total supportive contacts with children We know from experience that bullying almost the pure joy of having a close friend is also expressed. always takes place in school and consists of every- Love relationships. There are numerous and thing from being frozen out to sexual harassment varied questions when it comes to relationships and physical abuse. The trend has turned towards and falling in love: How do you meet someone to be girls partially taking over the boys’ manner of acting together with? Can you be in love when you are eight out more. In almost nine out of ten cases bullying is years old? What should you think about when you committed by a group, which in half of these cases are going to have sex with a girl for the first time? consists of both boys and girls. How do you know that a guy is interested? How do In terms of the gender distribution, 43 percent of you break up? It most often concerns anxious calls all cases of bullying are committed by perpetrators of that also deal with identity and self-image. Being both sexes, while 34 percent are committed solely by entitled to choose who one wants and supporting a boys and 22 percent solely by girls. friend who is not getting on well are important In a 2004 debate article in Dagens Nyheter, BRIS issues. Many also need someone who listens when emphasized the issue of the responsibility of schools an unrequited love makes everything else feel mean- and the competence of teachers/principals with ingless. Like other contacts about family conflicts, regard to bullying prevention efforts. The quality of love relationships also concern contacts with training at all schools of education in the country teenagers in immigrant families, where boys and was surveyed and assessed. The results showed that girls find themselves in conflict with the family/ only two of the country’s 29 teaching programmes relatives with regard to their choice of partner. provide teaching candidates sufficient knowledge to Issues of suicide, self-destructiveness, other men- manage the profession’s social and student care tal illnesses and eating disorders (just outside of the tasks, such as preventing children from being vic- table) are typical, weighty and frequent topics that timised. BRIS therefore demanded, among other have a great deal in common. A clear majority of things, that the government charges the National children and young people would rather write to Agency for Higher Education with reviewing teacher BRIS about these issues than call. Despite this, the training, so that teaching candidates are better pre- call frequency is also increasing here. pared for the reality they will meet. In 2004 BRIS had close to 1,600 contacts concer- Relationships with friends. Finding friends, being ning suicide, of which almost 1,100 were e-mails. fair, solving problems that arise, becoming popular Over 1,500 contacts dealt with self-destructiveness, and well-liked for who one is, are consistently reasons 900 dealt with eating disorders and 1,400 concerned for contacting BRIS. Just over three thousand contacts other mental illnesses. About nine out of ten con- with BRIS dealt with these topics during the year. tacts in this area come from girls. The increase in Friends are central to children and young people of the contacts concerning self-destructive behaviour different ages. Children who have no friends live estimated to be more than 40 percent is striking, every day with a reminder of their loneliness (another while contacts about suicide increased by approxi- prominent theme). Children who are not bullied can mately 10 percent compared to 2003. also speak of long-term exclusion and loneliness. In the last two years BRIS has warned of the Here there are also children who are seriously wor- exceptionally large increase in e-mails mainly from ried about friends who are not doing well. Sometimes girls who cut themselves and no longer want to live. 8
  • 8. the bris report 2004 : total supportive contacts with childrenThe statistics from 2004 indicate a continuedincrease in these contacts and that the mental C Perpetrators, physical abusehealth of young girls is a social problem. Many young people that contact BRIS have hadthoughts of suicide for a long time, some have alsoattempted suicide several times and they often havenegative experiences of speaking with adults abouttheir self-loathing. Depression, sleeping difficulties,feelings of powerlessness and exclusion are com-mon. The causes of the problems vary, but disputesand alcohol/drug abuse in the home, too high expec-tations and too much stress or bullying in school,loneliness, love problems and a mistrust of the adultworld are common background variables. As part of the development in the fight againstsuicide and issues of self-destructiveness amongyoung people, in 2004 BRIS continued the collabora-tion that was begun in 2003 with the organisationSPES (Suicide Prevention and Survivor Support) andAllmänna Barnhuset. This resulted, among other several years BRIS has emphasized that loneliness is attention of those in power, the media and the publicthings, in five conferences in our respective regions a common, almost invisible theme that is common to the fact that child abuse is still a plague affectingand the book “Report from my heart”, written by 13- to most contacts. Despite having friends, one can feel too many children.15 year-olds, who were invited to participate from all lonely, a sense of exclusion and a feeling that there is In 2004, just over 1,500 children and young peopleof the schools in the country. See the chapter on the no one that understands that I in particular have cer- contacted BRIS on this topic, usually by calling. Here,BRIS-mail (p. 22). tain thoughts and feelings. The same perception of just as in victimisation by sexual abuse, the child Other mental illness can for example deal with loneliness also exists within the family and social needs someone to talk with. The abuse has oftendejection, depression and obsessive behaviour. It networks, where no one really has time to care. Many gone on for a long time before the child contacts us.often borders on other topics where the child young people have a strong feeling of being left alone Physical abuse (and bullying) is a more frequentexpresses a feeling of stress and high expectations, with their questions of identity and life. These sig- theme for boys compared to the proportion of boysand of not being able to live up to expectations such nals indicate a need for more adults to be around in other areas of contact.as being attractive and successful. A sense of resigna- who have the time, energy and knowledge to listen For the ninth year in a row, BRIS has compiled ation is often described after trying in vain to commu- to their questions and thoughts. perpetrator profile based on the children’s informa-nicate with their unsympathetic surroundings. Physical abuse of children was the reason behind tion. The home is the most common scene of theAnother common feeling is the perception of being the establishment of BRIS in 1971 when one felt that crime where 85 percent of all child abuse casescompletely alone in one’s thoughts. the authorities did too little. BRIS also made strong occur. Girls are victims in 64 percent of the cases. Loneliness and existential life questions are top- contributions in making Sweden the first country in The perpetrator is usually a man – 72 percent,ics that reflect internal, personal problems and ques- the world to prohibit the corporal punishment of although it is not infrequently a woman – 28 per-tions of children and young people. Calls and e-mails children in 1979. In the latter half of the 1990s BRIS cent. The 15 percent of abuse cases committed byon these topics are just about equally common. For also conducted opinion-forming efforts to call the both sexes is also included in these figures. 9
  • 9. the bris report 2004 : total supportive contacts with children Sexual abuse/molestation, together with physical with concrete questions about normality and “how to to right now. Some call because they have had a bad child abuse, is the most difficult problem area where act” in different contexts. Children and young people experience, or may have done something under the the child is victimised, usually by someone the child have to handle the considerable sexualisation that influence of drugs or alcohol. Others need to talk with is dependent on for his or her survival. Few events today characterises a great deal of the visual images someone in confidence about their thoughts on leave such a destructive impression on a growing in media and advertising. It is becoming clear to BRIS homosexuality – what should I do if I am thirteen person’s life than being the victim of sexual abuse. In that many young people lack adults who dare talk years old and in love with my friend? Here there are some cases the violations are ongoing, in others they about sex and help them interpret the images of sex- also important calls from teenagers who are happy lie further back in time, but the child has often not uality provided on the Internet, television and news- and eager before “doing it” tonight for the first time – told anyone of them before. Self-guilt and loyalty to paper placards. One may find it paradoxical when in which case we are there as trusted contacts, which family members, as well as a fear of worsening the twelve year-olds can read advanced sex tips in the leaves us impressed by the maturity and willingness situation by telling someone of their suffering, con- local evening news – only to call the Children’s of young people to accept responsibility. tribute to children’s silence. But from the child’s per- Helpline the next day because they do not dare talk to spective, the call can be the start of a process of mum about their first menstruation. For many, sexu- Differences between calls and e-mails change where the girl or boy recognizes the possibili- ality is tied to expectations and worry. Here there is a It is easier to write about internal problems than it is ty of getting support and help from an adult. sense of uncertainty and questions about what one is to speak about them. Self-destructiveness, suicidal Also here BRIS has mapped perpetrators and vic- expected to agree to, if one is to manage intercourse, thoughts, existential and life questions, mental ill- tims for the ninth year in a row: in half of the cases, and thoughts as to whether or not one actually wants ness and identity issues are found to a greater extent the sexual abuse has taken place in the home, but school is also a common crime scene with 13 per- cent of the cases. As with physical abuse, the father is the most common single perpetrator, but a contemporary is D Perpetrators, sexual abuse/molestation the perpetrator in one out of four cases. With regard to the gender distribution, 91 percent of those guilty of the sexual abuse/molestation are men/boys, and 9 percent are women. In 83 percent of the cases a girl is the victim. It is worth noting that the proportion of women perpetrators has been cut in half since last year when only the perpetrator profile from the Children’s Helpline was available. We can also note that the sexual abuse has to some extent moved out of the home and that the proportion of other adults has become somewhat greater compared to last year. The area of sexuality, sexual development and questions about identity, one’s body and appearance is last among our 15 most common contact areas. The first two are comparatively more common topics for boys to call about – and they not infrequently deal 10
  • 10. the bris report 2004 : total supportive contacts with childrenin the written word than in the spoken word. In contrast, it is more common to call about rela-tionships with the external surroundings, particular-ly if they concern direct victimisation by a perpetra-tor. Then the child’s immediate need to hear a voiceis greater, regardless of whether the violation wascommitted by an adult or a contemporary. Bullying inparticular tops statistics over telephone contactswhile the e-mails that tell of this kind of victimisa-tion are comparatively few. Problems concerningphysical and sexual abuse are also relatively morecommon on the Children’s Helpline. Besides the manner of expression the child him orherself chooses, different contact topics are alsorelated to how quickly one can get a response. Onthe phone the response is immediate, even if thetimes the line is open are limited and one usuallydoes not get through right away on the first try. Onthe other hand one can write to the BRIS-mail 24-hours a day and one always gets a response even if itcan take some time: 51 hours on average. 11
  • 11. the bris report 2004 : calls from children and young people Calls from children and young people 3 Background Every day children and young people call the Children’s Helpline, which is open daily with few exceptions to those who are up to 18 years old. Here there is the possibility of making an independent adult contact, but the flow of calls also reflects how the access to trustworthy relationships to adults looks unteers who work under the supervision of employed BRIS-representatives. The volunteers are recruited and trained according to our requirements: being at least 25 years old, having experience of working with children and young people, possessing personal suit- ability for the job and having gone through our inter- nal training programme. in children’s growth environments. It is definitely not Behind the percentages, tables and averages there all children who call BRIS, but many do and others try, are many thousands of children and young people but do not have the energy or do not dare to complete who have let us know something about their lives. a call. The person answering is instead met by a This is a trust that we take care of – for the sake of phone being hung up, silence, too little information or these children in particular, but also in our work for some form of joke. This concerns in great part how the living conditions of all children in our country. the boys try to get in touch with us. Read more about this in the Test calls chapter on page 18. Statistically recorded calls Many children are not used to speaking with adults from children in 2004 and putting events, feelings and thoughts into words, In 2004 BRIS received 14,450 statistically recorded nor are they used to being listened to, respected and calls, which is a decrease of ten percent compared believed. But surprisingly many have the strength in with the previous year. At the same time the length their efforts to get support and help, and the ability to of the call was ten percent longer than before, on give BRIS important information about their problems average 13.7 minutes per call. “ Behind the percentages, tables and averages there are many thousands of children and young people and on pleasant topics. These longer calls are docu- mented in our statistics and discussed in this chapter, although without making identification of individual children possible. Exceptions to this anonymity are made only when the child has expressly asked BRIS to Eight out of ten calls come from a mobile phone and these calls stand for more than 90 percent of the call costs. Gender, age and housing who have let us know some- make other contacts or is in immediate danger. The calls treated in our statistics mostly concern thing about their lives. girls, with 73 percent of the cases, while 27 percent What happens when one calls BRIS? of the calls concern boys. When children call the Children’s Helpline during the This pattern is consistent with all previous years opening hours they are connected to one of the five of offering support. The boys do not see, or do not regional offices, where a total of eight to ten phone manage to use the spoken word as a tool for finding lines are manned. The calls are answered by our vol- help to the same extent as the girls. This pattern is 12
  • 12. the bris report 2004 : calls from children and young peoplealso substantiated by BRIS, which as yet cannot offer representation compared to the population in general.as many men as women to answer the calls. In the Slightly more than a fifth of the callers live with adescription of the calls’ contents we can also see that single parent, usually his or her mother. Others liveboys and girls to some extent choose to talk about in stepfamilies, with both parents alternately, in adifferent things. foster home or at an institution of some kind. In the Girls call relatively more about relationship prob- context, we can note that an increasing portion of thelems with family, friends and love partners, and calls concern relationships and conflicts within theabout sexual abuse, while boys are over-represented family in particular.in areas such as bullying and physical abuse. The Children’s Helpline is aimed at all children up Call topicsto 18 years of age. In terms of age the callers are in a The calls to the Children’s Helpline deal with most ofprincipal span of eleven to 16. In 2004 the average what can happen in a child’s life. Many times it alsoage was just over 13, which means that a typical concerns children who really fare badly. The callscaller to BRIS is a girl in her lower teens. reflect everything from experience of the most severe Six out of ten calls concern a child that lives sexual abuse to experiences of loneliness, situationstogether with both parents, which is a certain under- of choice, disappointments and more. Some call only E The ten most common topics in calls from children in 2004The figure above shows the ten most common call topics on the Children’s Helpline.A more detailed description of these is presented in the introductory chapter on total supportive contacts with children (page 6). 13
  • 13. the bris report 2004 : calls from children and young people because they just need to talk, others to ask specific Family conflicts Love relationships questions. In many calls the real matter is masked or • Worried and dejected girl, age 13, who listens to the • 14-year-old girl is in love with a guy who is 17. He the signals are weak, so all of the sensitivity and parents fighting in the evenings when they think she’s seems interested, but she is hesitant to get together empathy that the responding volunteer can muster is asleep. Is afraid they are going to get divorced. School with him because he surely wants to have sex, and needed. is an oasis in life where she avoids thinking about it. she is not ready yet. The call samples from our volunteers’ notes that follow are a selection of what can be representative • Sad boy who calls. His mother is sick-listed and • The boy is sad, alone and abandoned, and does not for some call topics. tired, and just shouts at him. He is ashamed of her know what he should do. His girlfriend of three years Note that the examples are somewhat edited to and cannot bring friends home. Has a bad conscience broke up with him yesterday. protect the child caller’s anonymity. for not liking his mother. • The girl has seen a guy in the shop and fallen in Bullying • The girl’s parents do not accept that she has a love. Does not know how to get a hold of him!! She is • 5 guys and 2 girls pushed her up against the wall, Swedish boyfriend. She will be cut out of the family if about to explode! took a strangle hold, and threatened her. They have the relationship continues. Her brother was thrown also taken her schoolbooks and thrown them in the out several years ago. • 16-year-old girl who kissed her best friend’s water, and made a web page about her where they boyfriend at a party. She regrets it and wants to tell only write nasty things. Started with her getting • Girl’s foster mother no longer wants to have con- the friend. The guy seems interested in her, but she comments and little pushes from one of the girls in tact. Harsh words and physical violence against the values her friend’s friendship more. Needed to test the gang during about 2 weeks. She pushed back. girl in the foster home. Does not want to go to a treat- ideas on how she should tell her friend. Her friends do not help her; they walk away when ment centre, wants to move home to mum. What will the gang comes. happen now? Who is going to believe what she says? Sexual and physical abuse • Girl who has been raped by her father several • The boy has been bullied for a long time, according Relationships with friends times. It started last year. Is with her father one to him because he is fat and bad in school. His mother • “How do you tell a friend that you don’t want to weekend every month, but does not want to tell her often works out of town and his father does not spend time with them any more?” The girl is tired of mother. Actually likes her father and does not want understand – no adult support anywhere. Everyone a friend that she thinks is using her and often gets to report him. says that he should not worry. Tries on clothes in the angry for no reason. middle of the night to see what to wear so as not to • Girl who has long been burdened with a problem. look fat. • 12-year-old boy who is a goalie. The team lost an She was sexually abused by an older relative when important match – and now it seems like everyone she was younger; it went on for about 2 years. She • A girl who wanted to say that she had been bul- thinks it is his fault. has felt bad because of it all these years and is won- lied, but that they have quit. She says that she has dering if she can report it now. Will tell her parents. gotten a new life since then! • 15-year-old girl who says that the family cannot afford new clothes for her. She feels excluded at • Girl who was sexually abused by her boyfriend last • A girl who feels excluded from her class. Always school where a certain style is in. Will soon switch year. The guy hit and raped her and now everything sits alone and is always chosen last. No one to be classes and is looking forward to it, but at the same feels unreal in a strange way. She describes that she with during the breaks. Most of all she wants to time is worried that it might not be any different. always feels sad and has a hard time concentrating. switch classes. She has never spoken to anyone Wants to get help. about it, but felt like doing so today. • “I’m invisible.” 14
  • 14. the bris report 2004 : calls from children and young people 15
  • 15. the bris report 2004 : calls from children and young people • Sad boy who says that his mother has beaten him stomach. Afraid that she will have a miscarriage. Existentially and even made sexual advances. His father lives in Does not dare talk with her mother. • Depressed girl who is not sure that she wants to another city and his only sibling has moved away live. Life feels meaningless, fights about everything from home. The boy does not want to contact another • “What should I do when a friend is black-and-blue with her parents, does not think they like her. What adult and hangs up when we talk about him and his and always wants to come home with me?” is the meaning of existence? mother maybe needing help. Sexuality and sexual development • A boy reflects “too much” on the world and won- • Girl who says that her mother’s boyfriend has • Guy who has loads of questions before he and his ders if he is strange because he is worried about started to look at her “like that”. Now he had taken girlfriend want to have sex. How do girls work? Does injustices, war, and the environment, among others. off his clothes and touched her. Was afraid and did it hurt? Why do girls bleed the first time? How do you not know if she could tell her mother. know what size condom to buy? Wants it to be good Other for both of them! • Guy in his upper teens who is worried about his • Girl who wonders where to turn when a teacher little brother who plays video games all day long. gropes her when he can and no one is looking. Stares • 12-year-old girl who wonders if it is normal to at her breasts when he speaks to her. She has tried to have not gotten her first period yet. Feels it is embar- • Very lonely girl whose parents are away often. object, but he just laughs at her. rassing to talk to mum. Talked a long time about many different things – did not seem to have spoken with anyone for an eternity. • Boy who has been abused by his stepfather for • Girl who got drunk at a party and had sex with a many years. Mum knows, but does not dare go guy she does not know. Feels confused and “bad”. • Boy whose mother committed suicide earlier this against him. The boy has reported it to the police and year. Since then nothing really seems to work. Would social services before, but nothing has happened. The • Girl thinks that she is homosexual, but does not like to talk about his sadness, but has no one to talk to. situation feels hopeless. dare admit it to others. Talks about guys with her friends so that no one gets any ideas. • Girl who gets everything from her parents – and • 14-year-old girl who has lived at a treatment cen- thinks it is tough. Wishes that her parents would set tre and has regularly been physically and mentally • Boy who starts by asking if it is dangerous to boundaries and that she could not always get what abused by certain members of the staff. Ran away masturbate a lot. Several questions about physical she wants. Says herself that she wants to have love, and told the police once, but they did not believe her. development and sexuality come up afterwards. but no one “sees” her. Now she lives in a foster home where they believe Inquisitive guy who has not dared ask anyone. her and will make sure she does not need to go back. • Boy who lives at a treatment centre. He isn’t allowed • Girl who wants to “get back her virginity”. Her to see his parents, and does not understand why. • Boy who is very worried about himself and his sib- parents would go mad if they found out that she lings who have lived with physical and sexual abuse had had sex. • Boy who is worried that he is starting to become their entire life. Wants to get help from someone who addicted to alcohol. Has tried to get help, but gets the understands the problems with families from another • Boy, 17 years old, whose girlfriend of the same age response that he is too young. Has tried to stay sober, culture. is pregnant. He would like to go with her to check- but older relatives tempt him with liquor. ups etc., but the girl wants to take her mother • Girl, 16 years old, who has become pregnant instead. Feels sad and left out. Is unsure if the girl Where do the calls lead? despite protecting herself. The guy, who is older, intends to keep the child, but she does not want to In the majority of cases, young people call the thinks she has been unfaithful and hit her in the talk about it. Children’s Helpline because they have a need to talk 16
  • 16. the bris report 2004 : calls from children and young peoplewith an adult for a while. Here, there is an opportuni- the way they are” or “It is not your responsibility to ate professional adult. Today it can unfortunatelyty of having a conversation with an adult where one fix all of this…”. Children also need to know what often be more difficult to find these adults – whenas a child is not in a dependent position – which rights and options apply to them in different situa- parents and custodians indicate that they do notmakes this particular adult relationship unique from tions – for example on things regarding schooling, have time or energy, and when school resources forthe child’s perspective. From BRIS’ perspective the finances, work, housing, etc. student support are shrinking.calls mainly mean listening, offering support and Children who already have been in contact withaffirming the child who calls. For many children, it After the call the authorities also call BRIS – including contactsis this in particular that can provide the hope and BRIS, together with the child, often searches through with e.g. social services based on placement in a fos-courage to move forward in their own situation. To be the surrounding social network to find trustworthy ter home or treatment centre – but where this con-taken seriously as a child and to be allowed to think adults who can actively help the child to a change. tact is not working, and the child ends up in a diffi-about possible alternatives contributes to a process Sometimes it is about actually speaking with his cult dependent relationship without the opportunityof change. It can be decisive for a child in a particular or her mother or father about the matter – but just as to influence the situation. In most cases the child issituation to hear “It is not your fault that things are often the child gets in touch with the most appropri- referred on and below you can see who can hopefully take up the case. In certain situations a more firm intervention than a referral is required. These follow-up contacts are made on behalf of the child (i.e. on assignment from the child). BRIS continues to be active, usually F Further contacts following calls from children towards authorities. See the chapter on Assign- ments, page 19. 17
  • 17. the bris report 2004 : test calls Test calls Medskribent: Martin Höög, BRIS region Nord In more than eight out of ten cases children and subjects, where for example a gang pass the mobile 4 young people contact the Children’s Helpline in other phone around and bait each other to more and more ways than those that provide a basis for the statisti- explicit, sexual language. BRIS’ starting point is how- cally recorded calls. The most common kind of calls ever that many test calls are a confused expression of consists of different attempts to test BRIS. In 2004 a need for help that the caller cannot formulate. just over 40,000 so-called test calls comprised 40 Other non-statistically recorded ways of contacting percent of all calls. This figure is similar to that of the the Children’s Helpline are through silent calls and previous year in terms of the percentage, but in terms outbursts. The silence is often difficult to interpret, of the number the test calls have however decreased but can be due, among others, to the caller not daring by approximately 30 percent. to speak when they have gotten through or just Previous in-depth studies show that the majority because they want to hear if there is someone on the of the test calls come from boys, which gives an other end of the line. The outbursts are a way of con- inverted picture: although mostly girls end up in tact that consists of monologues of wails, shouts or our statistics, most things indicate that in total more insults of a sexual nature. These calls are together boys call BRIS. However, the boys’ contact attempts almost as numerous as test calls. more seldom lead to sufficient information for further An important issue for BRIS is to be equally acces- documentation. sible to boys and girls. In 2003 we, together with SPES Children and young people have a natural need to and the Child Safety Delegation, called attention to test and try. Many times young people test BRIS by the increased number of young girls with issues of calling as a group. Boys call most often and want to suicide. Reports indicate that twice as many boys as investigate where the boundaries of the adult world girls commit suicide every year. A great challenge is “ go. They may for example want to hear if there is an to develop knowledge of how we will better be able to adult that has the energy to listen, or if BRIS can really perceive the boys’ often inarticulate calls for help. Although it is mostly girls stand up to a test when there are no other adults to that end up in our statis- test the boundaries on. Sometimes such attempts tics, most things indicate turn into a dialogue and become a conversation. that in total more boys call BRIS. For example, a gang of boys can call to moan and shout words about sex over the line, but after a while one of them begins to explain that he feels bad because he found a hardcore porn film at home, which he had until now kept to himself. A child can call and shout: “I’m going to kill you, you bastard,” after which it turns out that the child experienced war and death close up. Many times the test calls can however deal with completely fictitious 18
  • 18. the bris report 2004 : assignments Assignments Sometimes children call and ask for more firm interven- if the child tells an authority of what it is like at home.5 tion than the single support call. They can be in an Together with the child, the BRIS representative can go urgent or dangerous situation, or ask for more help for through which resources are available by bringing up other reasons. When BRIS takes any measure beyond the child’s own strengths and the surrounding social the single call, we refer to it as working on behalf of the network, and seeing which potential professional child or on assignment from the child. This means that resources can be of use. For example: BRIS can contact authorities or establish other contacts, • “Girl age 17 calls and is sad. She says that she has but it is always done at the child’s request. The children taken a lot of responsibility for her younger siblings for are anonymous as long as they themselves want to be. several years when her mother is feeling bad. The girl Problems that are common in assignment contacts thinks that it feels like the world is falling in on her and are family conflicts, physical and mental abuse, sexual she is afraid that the family will be broken up if she abuse, housing, bullying and problems with different tells. Soon she will not have the strength anymore and authorities. In proportion to the total number of calls, a sometimes she cuts her self. She has almost no contact small fraction result in assignments from children, but with her father.” they often concern the most vulnerable children. When BRIS makes external contacts on behalf of the Therefore, the assignment work is an important part of child, the child’s anonymity does however usually need BRIS’ support services. to be broken. Emergency contact with authorities can be In 2004 BRIS concluded 76 assignments for children, made when needed, and in these cases it is usually with almost twenty fewer than the previous year. Three- the social services on-call, or in exceptional cases the fourths of the assignments concern girls and the ave- police. For example when: rage age is just over 14. In almost a third of the cases • “Boy age 13 calls and does not dare go home when these children live in a biological nuclear family, which his stepfather is drunk. The boy says that when his is a very low figure compared to society in general as stepfather drinks he gets violent and beats him. His well as to how it looks on the Children’s Helpline. mother has sometimes been beaten and the boy says Assignments can be classified into two groups: sup- that she is also afraid. The boy is worried for his little “ A small fraction of calls result in assignments from children, but they often concern the most port/motivation calls and external contacts, but they often occur in combination. In the former it is however fundamental that the child can still remain anonymous and have repeated contact with a BRIS representative. In support/motivation calls, the child often has serious brother who is still in the flat.” In situations that are not urgent, social services is the most common authority that BRIS contacts on behalf of children. Sometimes we submit a report that the child is faring poorly at home in different ways, other times it is vulnerable children. problems and there is not infrequently a fear that every- because the child harms him or herself. Some of the thing will become even worse if the child asks for help, children have previously had contact with the authorities which is sometimes due to a mistrust of the ability of concerned, but have not felt that they received the help authorities to help out. It can for example concern they need. Other common contacts in assignments are worry that the whole family will not be able to get help with staff at schools and youth counselling centres. 19
  • 19. the bris report 2004 20
  • 20. the bris report 2004 : bris.se BRIS.se In January 2001 BRIS.se was established as an arena So that BRIS can better cover its basic activities,6 customised to children’s and young people’s need the web-based statistics were refined for acquisition, of communicating over the Internet. Since then the registration and analysis of calls and e-mails. This website has been developed into a basic forum for development has meant that we more quickly and support, information and learning. The website’s more efficiently can follow up and develop support main focus lies on the dialogue with children and services based on the needs of children and young young people, primarily through the BRIS-mail, but people who turn to BRIS. the Discussion Forum also has a prominent place. The basic principle for the e-mail contacts builds on security and anonymity, where children log in with their own passwords so that their e-mails can be equally secure as their calls. BRIS.se also functions as a communication plat- form in the work with public opinion formation, media contacts and fundraising to be able to continue offering support. In collaboration with the web agency deasign and the advertising agency IK Stockholm, BRIS.se is updated and refined in the aim of achieving greater dialogue with our target group, and greater uniformity and impact in focused mar- keting activities. In 2004 BRIS.se received almost 350,000 visits. During the year the site has been continuously developed based on various needs. This involved, “ Brisse says: among other things, the addition of a new youth In 2004 BRIS.se received almost 350,000 visits. The basic principle for the section with the intention of encouraging greater e-mail contacts builds on dialogue with BRIS among more young people in security and anonymity. their upper teens. Another venture was the website The basic principle for the developed in collaboration with SISU Idrotts- e-mail contacts builds on utbildarna (sports trainers) that was launched during security and anonymity. the summer. It is focused on education in socially responsible leadership, the fight against bullying and other problems that can arise in youth sports, which is the country’s organised activity that includes the greatest number of young people. 21
  • 21. the bris report 2004 : the bris-mail The BRIS-mail Background among other things is why the recruitment, training 7 The BRIS-mail was opened in its current form on 31 and supervision of our approximately 130 e-mail January 2001 with the intent of relieving and comple- volunteers of today has been intensified since 2002. menting the Children’s Helpline. It soon proved to be In 2004 the work in large part consisted of overseeing important to many children to have a written dia- and developing the response methods and thinking logue with adults, which led to the e-mail service ahead to be able to meet young people’s increased today being an equally important part of the basic need of secure written contact with adults. support services as telephony. “It’s much easier to express myself in writing than it is on the phone if I’m The BRIS-mail in 2004 sad,” wrote a 13-year-old girl. Affirmation and hope is During 2001, the inaugural year, about 4,300 e-mails conveyed in the responses from BRIS. The aim is that were received. This number increased to 6,700 in the person e-mailing will not feel alone in his or her 2002 to then increase to 8,350 in 2003. With a 21 thoughts and experiences. In a response from an percent increase, the number of e-mails amounted adult, help is given to recognize opportunities to to 10,114 in 2004, 7,683 of which received a response make a change. E-mail is growing the most, which of a supportive nature. G The ten most common e-mail topics 2004 “ Many children want to have a written dialogue with adults. Therefore e-mail is today just as impor- tant as telephony. NB! The total is greater than 100 percent as we included what the e-mail both primarily and secondarily was about. 22
  • 22. the bris report 2004 : the bris-mailA quickly dashed hope was that more boys wouldget in touch over the Internet, but in the past threeyears, the distribution has been such that close tonine out of ten e-mails concern girls. The averageage has also remained relatively constant: thosewho write to BRIS are on average 15 years old,somewhat older than those who call. BRIS is con-cerned about the increasing number of e-mails thatdeal with the suicidal problems of young girls. In2003 we spoke of the dramatic increase in this area– the e-mails were close to triple the number of2002, when the increase in the number of e-mailsabout self-destructiveness was striking. All of thesecontacts with BRIS bear witness to signs of poormental health among a group of teenage girls in ourcountry, the extent of which we do not yet know. When we now combine the e-mail topics of sui-cide, self-destructive behaviour, eating disordersand other mental illnesses, this disquieting imageis also confirmed for 2004 where slightly more than1,100 e-mails deal with suicide. Almost as manybear witness to problems of self-destructivenesswhere the only way to feel better for the time beingis, for example, to cut oneself with a sharp object orsome other way expose oneself to physical injury.The e-mail examples that follow are partiallyedited to protect the child’s anonymity.Self-destructiveness/suicidal thoughts• Girl, age 15: Hi bris. I’m a 15-year-old girl. I’vebeen bullied since I was 8. Now I’ve begun to cutmyself. I don’t want to kill myself, but it feels goodto do it. It feels like easier when I’ve cut myself. Isthere something wrong with me? I look at thewounds and feel proud is that normal? But I don’tknow why. Please help me. I don’t want to cutmyself anymore. 23
  • 23. the bris report 2004 : the bris-mail • Girl, age 15: I’m really worried about my friend. I’ve ployed. I hate my stepfather who just drinks and school and I’m always alone in the refectory. I have found out that she cuts herself. She’s even told me brings his mates home. My big brothers have left had friends but they’ve stopped calling and started that she does it. Now I’m scared that she’s going to home and it’s just me left. Plus my little brother, hanging out with others instead. Sometimes I’m die or bleed to death. she’s 17, I’m 15. I’ve seen her who’s six and hits everyone he sees. He’s not getting good enough for example if someone’s sick or so. arm, and a razor that she used Why is she doing this? on well, but the social services don’t do shit. They get Most of all I wish that I had a real best friend that I why does she hurt herself? I’m afraid that she’ll think a strangle hold on me those disgusting bastards. But can trust. I don’t want to feel alone and excluded and I betrayed her if I told. i really want to tell someone. I I’m going to make an anonymous report after have the adults talking with me all the time. The don’t really trust the school counsellor and I don’t Christmas. HOPE SOCIAL SERVICES SHAPE UP THEN!!! adults should be talking to those that are doing this dare go straight to mum or dad. after that there aren’t to me. so many other options! What should I do? Relationships with friends • Girl, age 11: I have a friend who I like a whole lot, Strength, energy and hope • Boy age 15: It actually feels wrong to write, but I but he’s mean to me. I don’t know what I should do. There is a large amount of e-mail that is permeated don’t want to talk to anyone. I’ve had thoughts of If I object he gets really angry. Sometimes he calls me by a great energy to change, a sound, constructive suicide in different periods for about the last year. It a tart and other things that make me sad. He doesn’t anger that is important in change efforts. The e-mails doesn’t feel like I have any “real” reason to be suici- understand that I get sad. No one in school does any- also indicate that children and young people can dal, but it’s mostly about things being tough in thing. I’ve spoken to my teacher, but he says that I show a great deal of care for their friends, family and school. I’m not bullied or anything, it just feels like shouldn’t mind him. Please tell me what I should do. others in their surroundings. Like here: there’s a lot of pressure on me now that I’m starting high school in the autumn and I often just want to Loneliness • Hi, a girl in my class told all the girls in class that disappear and not bother about anything! • Girl, age 14: I feel so awful. I feel so alone and am she has problems with her mum. so bored that I can’t describe it. Feel like I no longer But she also told the school nurse and her mentor in Existential questions have anything to talk about, feels like there’s nothing school. I, and many of my friends got really pissed • Girl, age 17: Hi BRIS. I’m writing because I don’t fun to live for. I have no problems at home, but I that her mum treats her this way! Apparently her know whom else I can talk to. Now I can’t take it any can’t be bothered to tell my parents how lonely I am. mum usually shouts at her and humiliates her. When more. I don’t know what’s happened. I just feel so After school I never do anything with anyone and it’s I heard this I got so damned angry!! I want to help, completely empty and alone. I have loads of friends, really not often that the phone rings for me. A girl but don’t know how. Please tell me what I should do. but maybe no real best friend ya know. But still. I I’ve spoken with a little thinks that I should talk to would appreciate an answer. have a good family, and actually should be happy? someone else. I think it would be good, but I don’t Well, I’m not. I don’t actually know what the problem know who I should talk to, but some counsellor or In the e-mail responses BRIS encourages children to is that makes me unhappy. But something feels so something …would be good, but it’d feel so unbelie- use this energy in a positive way that will benefit wrong. Don’t know what. Is there something wrong vably strange to go in there… Please give me some them and others. As a friend, one is very important, with me? Will I always feel like this? Help me. advice on what I can do… I just think about how but cannot take on an adult level of responsibility boring it will be later in the summer. There will to solve issues dealing with bullying, sexual abuse Family conflicts be loads of lonely days while all the other “normal” and family conflicts. • Hello. Soon turning 16. i’ve written many times people are having fun. This is and remains the responsibility of adults. before. My school counsellor is great, but sadly she’s An important detail that the experience from the quitting pretty soon. Then I’ll have no one to talk Bullying BRIS-mail conveys is that emotionally sensitive with about my mum being mentally ill. She just sits • Boy age 13: I was completely frozen out of my adults are enormously important to children and at home and pops pills since she became unem- class last autumn. No one wants to sit next to me in young people in our country. 24
  • 24. the bris report 2004 : discussion forum Discussion Forum For the third year BRIS offers an open meeting place heading for different kinds of common questions8 on the web where children and young people can ask that often arise in the Discussion Forum or in BRIS’ questions and give answers, and discuss and share other support activities where children and young their experiences and feelings with each other. people have given each other good, concrete answers Participation is anonymous without the possibility of on what one can do in different situations. The ques- tracing e-mail addresses and is under the supervi- tions can for example deal with how to get together sion of a moderator from BRIS. with someone, what one can do when one is nervous During 2004, almost 2,000 people have written over presenting an assignment in school, how to posts in the Discussion Forum. These people, the handle poor self-confidence, how to end a friendship great majority of which are girls, have written a or learn to cry. total of 6,800 posts, which is an increase by almost 50 percent compared to 2003. Examples of a few postings and “The increase is probably due to our acquiring an responses from the Discussion arena that works for this kind of communication, Forum and Children give each other and to the fact that we have marketed ourselves and advice: reached the target group,” says moderator Jenny Ingårda, who is the information coordinator at Divorce Riksförbundet BRIS. Question: are there any of you that’s experienced Subjects discussed over the year have included your parents getting a divorce? it’s all so hard. friendship, alcohol/drug abuse, the Internet and text Response: Yeah, I’ve been there, but it was like 4 messages, feeling sorrow and being sad, divorces, years ago… “ things that make me feel good and a forum called I really just want to forget it all. It’s still tough, “the floor is open”. because mum and dad can’t ever talk or discuss any- Subjects discussed The Discussion Forum is also used as a channel thing with each other. over the year have when it comes to venting current world events that They can’t even talk on the phone without argu- included friendship, affect us to varying degrees, such as the hostage sit- ing. It’s damned hard. alcohol/drug abuse, uation in southern Russia and the tsunami disaster But the worst is in the beginning, or it usually is. the Internet and in Southeast Asia in the final days of the year. Here But I think the best for you would be to talk with text messages, and feeling sorrow and one can quickly find information on how children someone about it, like a friend who understands the being sad. and young people think, what they expect and what situation or if you like call bris, or go to a youth support and help they need from school and profes- counselling centre. sional adults when a crisis situation arises. Do what you want, I know it’s rough. During 2004 we have taken out excerpts of some But it gets better. It might not feel that way in the questions and responses under the heading Children beginning, but it does after a while. “A wound give each other advice. This is a kind of collective heals”..Take care. 25
  • 25. the bris report 2004 : discussion forum Response: The more time passes, the easier it is to cam loads of times. Like all people he has good and understand that it was the best thing that could hap- bad sides. We’ve never met, but are planning a meet- pen. Sure I still wish mum and dad lived together ing this summer. I know that it might sound risky and loved each other, but I know that it’s much bet- and that many are sceptical, even though I assure ter like this!!!! Hugs… them that he CANNOT be some mad man. Just over a year... What do you think? Ugly Response: I met my girlfriend on the Internet, do Hi. I’m ugly. There’s nothing you can do about being like she did, she brought her mum with her… take a ugly. And worst of all: I’ll live with looking like this friend along, NEVER meet him at your or his home. A my whole life. How will I manage? I’m not the kind coffee in town is best. of person that has high expectations of myself, I’ve Response: one day when I was bored I stayed in and basically been satisfied with my looks. Thought that I chatted. I met a guy who sounded wonderful and was attractive. But that was when I was younger. said that he was 22. I set up a date with him. But Now I’m more ugly. Sure, it’s what’s inside that when I saw him… he wasn’t 22, he was at least like counts. But how you look is always the first impres- 40. he walked up to me and said that it was him on sion anyone gets. And besides; I’ll never be able to go the internet. I was so scared that I said that I didn’t into show business or something that requires good know him, but was waiting for my mum, he said looks. How am I going to manage to live? What’s the sorry and walked a few steps away my legs were meaning of living? And there are also many who shaking… My advice: Never set up a date and don’t judge you by appearances. It’s like a little nicer to be give out your name!! accepted and liked, than not to be, even if it is because of how you look. Thanks! Can you be so ugly that you shouldn’t show your I just want to say THANKS! For the BRIS page face outside? I didn’t think you could, but apparently because everyone is a friend here and you give so. You can’t like be completely happy if you’re not advice to each other, you can get advice and say attractive. If this had been a problem I could do what you think and feel it’s great. Thanks!:D something about, I’d be really happy. Now there’s no ////A happy hope. never_ever_sunshine Response: Well, you can’t really be SO ugly!!! There’s got to be something attractive about you??? Otherwise you can make yourself even more ugly and look in the mirror, and think that at least you’re not that ugly! //Linnet Internet and text messages Question: I’ve chatted with a guy on the Internet for just over a year now. I’ve never been in love with him, but I REALLY like him and he means a lot to me. I’ve seen a picture of him and seen him on the web- 26
  • 26. the bris report 2004 : ask the lawyer Ask the lawyer On BRIS.se there is an always-open section where chil- • What punishment can parents get if it’s proven that9 dren and young people up to age 18 can ask our lawyer they are guilty of child abuse? Is it hard to prove that a about things they are wondering about. The background child has been abused? to this is that children can be affected by events that are difficult to understand where they want to know what • What happens when you’re put in a foster home? applies from a legal perspective. Many children convey to BRIS the feeling that adults do not listen or cannot • I’m a girl who will soon turn 15 and am wondering answer important questions. It is particularly difficult if I have to go to school if I don’t want to? to get answers on what rights and obligations children and young people have towards each other, where for • Can you report a rape three weeks after it’s hap- example questions of care and housing can arise after a pened? divorce. It can also be important to find out what the law says about certain events concerning friends, school and • I’m an 11-year-old boy who has been placed in a fos- free time, where the child can be exposed to bullying or ter home since I was three, but they don’t want to have crime, among other things. me anymore so I have to move to another one. My Ask the Lawyer has existed for one year and confirms mother is dead, but my dad is alive and has a new the perception that children and young people often family abroad. Soon my dad will be coming to meet me find themselves in situations with legal implications. and maybe take care of me, but I don’t want to live with The questions concern where one can turn, uncertainty him because I don’t know him and I don’t want to live about what will happen if they contact, for example, the far away from my older siblings. Can he come and take police, social services or healthcare services. me, or do I get to choose who I want to live with? In 2004, 189 questions were asked and answered “ • Where should I turn if my dad is an alcoholic? on Ask the Lawyer. The following is a small, partially edited selection of the questions: Children can be affect- ed by events that are • What happens if both parents are abroad for a pretty difficult to understand • I’m a 14-year-old guy and my parents have been long time? Are they allowed to do that? Am I allowed to divorced for a few years. When I was little, a court be “alone” in Sweden without my parents? where they want to now what applies from decided that I should live with my mum and see my a legal perspective. dad every other weekend and every other holiday. • I’m a 15-year-old girl who’s going to have an abortion. Now I want to decide for myself, but my mum says that I don’t want my parents to find out about this because it the court decides and going to court costs about SEK would kill me, but my mum is a dental nurse and my big 80,000. Is there any other cheaper way of changing this sister is a nurse. Can both or either of them see in my or can I decide on my own? medical records that I’ve had an abortion? Does it have to be entered into my records? Can’t you be anonymous • At what age can I choose the parent I want to live with? when you have an abortion? 27
  • 27. the bris report 2004 : calls from adults Calls from Adults Background Ombudsman’s latest report. BRIS has also spoken of 10 In our society many adults have a clear need to be able the necessity of a greater child perspective within to talk with an outsider about issues concerning chil- psychiatric care as children of mentally ill parents dren. In 2004, 2,137 calls to BRIS Adult Helpline – often lack support and help. About Children were statistically recorded, which is a decrease of almost five percent compared to the pre- The child’s mental health vious year. But many more called; only slightly more • Recently graduated teacher that is the mentor of a than one in ten calls got through directly. BRIS is there- girl with serious eating disorders who is doing poorly. fore planning for increased availability in 2005. The teacher feels completely unprepared and won- ders how he can support the girl. Adults who call about children The pattern of callers has remained consistent with • Grandmother of a 12-year-old boy wonders if she or previous years. It is primarily the child’s parents or her daughter should force the boy to take the tube other relatives who call with worries and questions although he gets dizzy and has panic attacks when he about the child concerned. Persons from the authori- enters the train. ties like to consult BRIS in difficult matters while other groups such as neighbours, for example, call Mental illness in the family because they themselves have concrete experience of • Mother of a 6 year-old and a 9 year-old wonders the child’s victimisation. how much she can tell her children about her hus- In three-fourths of the cases the adult caller is a band being sick-listed for depression for the last three “ woman. months. Compared to the profile on the Children’s Helpline, The area of divorce conflicts primarily centring on In 2004 there was a the contents of the adult helpline looks a little diffe- access to the child again “tops the list”; almost one sharp increase of calls rent with regard to children and the ranking of the call third of the calls in different ways concern how the concerning the mental topics. Adults are primarily worried about younger parents’ separation affects the child. Also when calls health of children. children; the average age is 10.5. Adults also call rela- concern family conflicts, they can in many cases be tively more about boys compared to the Children’s about disagreements between adults after a separation Helpline. But 53 percent of the calls concern girls, or divorce and the consequences it entails for the child. and 47 percent are about boys. A tangible change is that in 2004 there was a sharp Access increase of calls concerning the child’s mental health. • A frustrated father that sees how his daughter is Calls about physical and mental illness in the family torn between loyalty to her mother, who feels that the have also increased considerably. Mental illness is daughter should not need to meet her father. He does considered one of the largest public health problems, not want to put pressure on his daughter, but still which was emphasized in the Children’s wants to be able to see her. 28
  • 28. the bris report 2004 : calls from adultsH The ten most common topics in calls from adults about childrenI Callers in calls from adults 29
  • 29. the bris report 2004 : calls from adults ture that children and young people convey to BRIS Custody conflict themselves. We thus often have two independent • A father who feels powerless with regard to access sources that confirm how things might look in the to his daughter. He is from Turkey and he feels that lives of many children. An underlying theme behind his reactions in the contact with the social services the call topics is that it is common for children to are misinterpreted. ask to be seen for the person they are and that this requires a response from the adult world. Family conflicts Children react to relationships that do not work • The daughter moved in with her boyfriend of her because they are reliant on supportive and affirma- own free will. She refuses to have contact with her tive adult contacts for their mental maturation, per- family and has not bothered to go to her summer sonal development and self-esteem. BRIS must often job. Her parents are worried that her boyfriend, who emphasize this matter of course in calls with adults. is said to have an instable disposition, forbids her to have contact with others. Referrals In slightly more than eight out of ten calls from • Mother of two teenage daughters is sad and adults, the caller is referred on. The most common dejected. Says that there is only arguing at home. “It recipient is the social services, in 42 percent of the does not feel like we are a family anymore.” cases. In three out of ten calls, BRIS refers the caller to the child in question. This is one way to convey Problems in the parental role the picture of the child as competent, and to pro- mote the dialogue between adults and children. • “How should I manage as a parent?” asks the Referrals to school/child care and child psychiatry mother of a 6-year-old boy. She feels that her son also occur. Sometimes the call is referred back to provokes her to the verge of a breakdown and thinks BRIS. that he takes advantage of her lack of strength. Other examples • A worried neighbour who has heard the mother of three children scream and shout at the children. The neighbour is worried about the children and wonders what she can do. • The son is always sitting in front of the computer. His mother is uneasy because she does not know what the traffic on the Internet is about. In a comparison with the calls to the children’s helpline, the adults’ helpline clearly supports the pic- 30
  • 30. the bris report 2004 : focal areas Focal areas Each year calls and e-mails come in that provide BRIS • “What should I say to my friend who has anorexia11 with valuable knowledge, but which cannot be included and is in hospital?” in the statistics. We however feel that it is important to • “My friend drinks so much and I am worried that call attention to this information as it says a good deal something will happen to her” about the state of children and young people today. As • “If I talk to someone about my friend who cuts her- of 2004 we have selected four focal areas that have been self it feels like I’m betraying her.” tangible over the year, and have chosen to summarise the reactions we received in the weeks after the tsuna- Common to those who contact BRIS about a friend for mi disaster in Southeast Asia. whom they are concerned is that they feel a great sense of loyalty and responsibility. There is a great deal Concern for a friend of consideration and strength in this surrounding net- In our contact with children and young people we work of friends who really care. sometimes hear how children worry about a friend. They often do not know how to handle the situation Mental illness and because they might have promised not to tell an adult, obstacles to finding help but at the same time are concerned that the friend In its services, BRIS meets many children who are doing may be in trouble if they themselves do not do any- poorly psychologically and who for example cut them- thing. Many want to have direct help from adults, but selves, do not want to live, or have eating disorders. do not know where to turn, or they themselves want These children need additional professional help, but support and advice on how they can deal with their many times it is difficult to explain this. Examples of friend. As with other BRIS contacts a large number of common objections include “it won’t get better any- the children who get in touch about concern for a way”, “no one understands me”, “I don’t ever want to go friend are girls. to the child psychiatry clinic again” or “how can I be “ In 2004, approximately 1,100 contacts expressed con- sure that the counsellor or psychologist doesn’t call cern for a friend. Calls and e-mails about a friend rela- home?”. Others argue “I can’t handle the waiting time”, Each year calls and tively more often concern physical abuse and the friend “the counsellor at school is never there” or “how serious e-mails come in that being in danger due to self-destructive behaviour, do the problems need to be to be committed?” cannot be included thoughts of suicide, eating disorders or alcohol/drug In brief the following kinds of obstacles to finding in the statistics. abuse. But friends also worry about other types of vic- help exist when one is not feeling well psychologically: timisation such as sexual abuse and bullying. • Lack of trust in adults • Prior negative experience of help from adults Some examples: • Fear that their parents will find out • “My friend’s mum beats her. I’ve promised not to tell • Experience that professional adults are unavailable anyone because then her mum could end up in jail. when needed But I feel bad about not doing anything.” • Worry about different treatment methods 31
  • 31. the bris report 2004 : focal areas In summary the problems that many children and they have not chosen themselves or educating them- for them. The children say that the parents work too young people describe to BRIS concern more severe selves in a profession that they do not want. It is also much, take time to argue with each other or direct all mental problems that require professional help. It is about a sense of being lost between different cultural their attention to their new family: “Dad’s new girl- therefore of central importance to take children’s codes and norms: “I don’t know whom I can talk to. friend’s daughter and I argue a lot. Dad just defends obstacles to finding this help seriously. How will I be able to meet girls when I don’t know her although he has to see that I get sad,” explained Listening to try to ascertain how they would best what is proper here?” or “I’m in love with a boy. But if one girl. like the help to be formed is particularly important my parents found out, I would have to move.” Some tell BRIS that they have tried in vain to get when it comes to making it easier for the children to Even if boys comprise a clear minority when it their parents to understand their situation by telling have a chance at getting the help they need. comes to contacting BRIS and girls are usually more them how things feel; some children say straight out verbal when it comes to formulating emotional con- that they do not believe their parents like them. Problems experienced flicts, it is important that the boys’ problems are not by immigrant boys neglected. When it comes to children and young peo- The tsunami disaster Problems that concern girls with non-Swedish cultural ple with different cultural backgrounds, we gladly in Southeast Asia backgrounds have frequently been discussed in the speak about girls who are victimised by a patriarchal This national trauma is of course something com- last few years. Many resources have been spent to structure. The calls and e-mails that come to BRIS pletely over and above what children and young peo- help, and BRIS has, among other things, spoken of also indicate the importance of also taking the boys’ ple usually contact BRIS about, but our experience of calls and e-mails from teenage girls who end up in difficulties very seriously. the Estonia disaster is that it takes time for the con- family conflicts where a so-called culture of honour sequences to sink into the consciousness of children prevails. Coming second and young people. A long process of working through Unfortunately it is easier to forget the boys, who A common issue that arises in support activities is it awaits many, in which an independent adult can be like the girls find themselves in difficult situations due the exclusion many children and young people feel an important person to talk with. to their cultural background. According to a pilot study in their family. This primarily concerns two situa- About a week after the start of school in January, from the National Board of Health and Welfare, psycho- tions: when ill siblings are given too much attention BRIS had received a hundred calls and e-mails from schematic problems are twice as common among boys and when the parents do not take the child’s experi- and about children who had been affected by the dis- in year eight with parents born abroad, than corres- ences seriously. aster, which occurred just one week before the end of ponding boys with Swedish-born parents. Boys that Many who contact BRIS tell of how they feel that 2004. For example, a group of girls called the contact BRIS often feel a great sense of loyalty towards their siblings get all of their parents’ time. It can Children’s Helpline and were worried about friends family and relatives, and many times they accept too often concern brothers and sisters who require help, that had disappeared, one girl who was at her aunt’s much responsibility when it comes to protecting their who for example have an intellectual disability or had not found out what had happened to her mother, family members. Their stories describe how they are diagnoses such as Down syndrome or DAMP. The other children called just because they felt a fear of affected by harmful consequences; for example: “In an siblings do not feel that they are seen and think that dying, one boy told of how he had not been able to Islamic culture, you don’t report your parents, even if they almost always come second. This is what one hang on to his mother who was washed out to sea. they beat you” or “If I tell how things are for me, my has said upon contacting BRIS: “My brother has “It often takes a while for the children to contact family will be ashamed and all of my relatives will ADHD and gets all of the family’s attention. He’s us; it can take several weeks or sometime even start to make trouble.” often in fights and everyone just defends him. longer before they pick up a phone or write. The great Another problem that boys bring up is the great They say that he can’t help that he’s ill. But what majority first turn to their natural social networks. loneliness that they experience. They often feel forced about me?” Parents, relatives, other adults that instil trust, to live up to decisions in life that they were not active Many children explain that they do not feel that friends and siblings are the child’s first conversational in making, such as being forced to marry a girl that adults in the family listen to, believe in or have time partners. A fundamental requirement for adults, to 32
  • 32. the bris report 2004 : focal areasnow be able to support the affected children at all, isthat we do not transfer our own anxiety. This is noteasy when it concerns an event where everyoneaffects each other. Children are sensitive to how wereceive their signals for help, and often let the adultsmourn first before their own sorrow comes forth. It istherefore particularly important to ensure that thechildren are given the opportunity to formulate theirthoughts and feelings themselves. Sensitivity andpatience from us adults mean being able to listen,affirm and hold back our own anxiety. Avoidingleading questions is also something that we alwaysstrive for. Actively listening can take time, but fromour experience when everything in life is turnedupside-down the children need to be able to come tous on their own terms,” BRIS wrote in an editorialafter the disaster. Besides the ordinary support services, in thebeginning of 2005 BRIS is starting support groupsin Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö for childrenaffected by the disaster under the guidance of exter-nal expertise in collaboration with BRIS personnel. 33
  • 33. the bris report 2004 : what makes children happy? What makes children happy? A salutogenetic perspective 12 Many children and young people call BRIS and speak both of difficulties and problems, but far from all of the contacts are characterised just by misery. Children usually have an extroverted energy and a cathartic ability that is based on trust in an anonymous recipi- ent that can offer support and help. BRIS has long pointed out that those who contact us often convey • It makes me happy to spend time with people I like and who really care about me. It also makes me happy to make other people happy. And to really mean something to people you like. • friends are the absolute best thing in life! being loved makes me happy… by friends, family and my boy- friend…when someone caresses my cheek and sees me both victimisation and hope. Many children also speak • my loving family makes me happy and indoor of what they think is fun and what makes them feel bandy also makes me happy good in life. One girl formulated it like this: “Realising • Right now I’m feeling good, today I bought a bunny there are things that make me happy can make me rabbit. Because my rat died a week ago...but it feels think positively and not just see the negative side of better now. Today I got happy just because I bought a things.” bunny. If one is good at something and think something is • I get happiest when the horse I look after whinnies fun, one often receives appreciation and ends up in an at me. because he likes me and I love him upward emotional spiral, which leads to the problems • Music makes me as happy as hell, I promise, being more easily handled. And there are many things I couldn’t live without music. that children and young people tell us that they think • Working out! Working out definitely makes me are fun in life. Recurring topics that make children HAPPY! After every workout you’re happy and tired happy are: • Dance is a great comfort...you just forget everything. • good relationships with friends, family and partners • If you hear what makes other people happy you “ Many children also speak of what they think is fun and what they enjoy in life. • • • horses, dogs and other kinds of pets listening to music and playing one’s own music different activities like sports and dance To shed some light on how it can sound when the might get an idea of what might make you happy yourself… Using a salutogenic perspective in offering support means that in calls and e-mails one listens for and children speak about the positive things in life, we emphasizes the “health factors” that exist in the have reproduced examples from the Discussion Forum child’s life. In this way we get more knowledge about on BRIS.se. The question discussed was: “What makes what promotes the children’s well-being and what is you happy?” also important to bring up in the contact. The natural joy of life is a decisive psychological health factor that • I wouldn’t be able to survive without my best friend helps those who contact BRIS to also be able to man- she’s the best!!!! age handling what is difficult in life. 34
  • 34. Co-authors: Martin Höög, BRIS Northern Region. Petter Iwarsson, Mia Svensson and Ingrid Wiklund, BRIS Central Region. Kerstin Sjöbratt, BRIS Western Region. Michel Devillaz, BRIS Southern Region.Olof Hülphers, Jenny Ingårda, Johnny Nordström and Eva Waltré, BRIS National Association. Oskar Sparreljung, deasign.
  • 35. IK STHLM BRIS 0197 0502 | All photos © Sven Olof Jonn/Johnér. | Bilderna föreställer inte barn och ungdomar som förekommer i textern BRIS BRIS – Children’s Rights in Society – was founded in 1971 and is an NGO, a voluntary organisation with no party politi- cal affiliation, which supports children in distress. BRIS acts as a supplement to public bodies and authorities, and isBRIS a link between children, adults and the community. BRIS also aims to influence public opinion in order to increase theRiksförbundet BRIS (Head Office) respect, which adults have for children as individuals, and to ensure that decision-makers promote a more child-Karlavägen 121SE-115 26 Stockholm friendly society in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. BRIS is a national association, which operatesTel: +46 (0)8-598 888 00 in five regions, each of which have support lines, employed personnel and volunteers at their offices.Fax: +46 (0)8-598 888 01info@bris.se Support services for children and young peopleBRIS region Mitt (Central Region) BRIS support services for children and young people has its base in the Children’s Helpline and the BRIS-mail. In 2004Karlavägen 121 BRIS had a total of just over 22,000 contacts from these channels that were statistically recorded.SE-115 26 Stockholm The Children’s Helpline is open to children and young people up to 18 years of age during the hours: Monday toTel: +46 (0)8-598 888 10 Thursday 3:00 pm-7:00 pm, Friday 2:00 pm-6:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday 2:00 pm-5:00Fax: +46 (0)8-598 888 11bris.mitt@bris.se pm. Calls are automatically routed to one of the regional offices that is open. BRIS bears the cost of the children’s calls, which are usuallyBRIS region Nord (Northern Region) made from mobile telephones. Calls to the Children’s HelplineKungsgatan 36, 2 tr do not appear on the caller’s telephone bills, and BRISSE-903 25 UmeåTel: +46 (0)90-203 65 10 neither sees nor traces the caller’s telephone number.Fax: +46 (0)90-203 65 11 At the BRIS.se website children and young peoplebris.nord@bris.se have the opportunity to among other things e-mailBRIS region Syd (Southern Region) BRIS under safe conditions. Many prefer to write The Children’s Helpline:Östra Rönneholmsv. 7 instead of calling, and today the BRIS-mail is 0200-230 230SE-211 47 Malmö BRIS’ most expansive activity with just over The BRIS-mail:Tel: +46 (0)40-690 80 70 10,000 e-mails received in 2004. www.bris.seFax: +46 (0)40-690 80 71bris.syd@bris.se BRIS Adult Helpline BRIS Adult Helpline – about Children:BRIS region Väst (Western Region) – About Children 077-150 50 50Hvitfeldtsgatan 14 The BRIS Adult Helpline – About ChildrenSE-411 20 Göteborg Membership and donations: receives calls from adults who need someone Pg 901504-1Tel: +46 (0)31-750 11 30Fax: +46 (0)31-750 11 31 to talk to about problems relating to children.bris.vast@bris.se Calls are received at different offices and, www.bris.se unlike the Children’s Helpline, which is free,BRIS region Öst (Eastern Region) calls are charged at standard rates.Knäppingborgsgatan 7SE-602 26 Norrköping The helpline for adults is open every weekdayTel: +46 (0)11-440 05 50 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. In 2004, just over 2,100Fax: +46 (0)11-440 05 51 calls were received from adults.bris.ost@bris.se

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