Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Voice or Voice-Over? Harnessing the Relationship between a Child’s Right to Be Heard and Legal Agency through Norwegian Bullying Cases

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Abstract:  This article offers an analysis of the child’s right to be heard under Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its application in Norway, through a case study of bullying. The methodology combines a “top-down” legal interpretation of Article 12 in addition to an analysis of Section 9a of the Education Act, juxtaposed with bottom-up approaches. First, a legal analysis of Article 12 and the General Comments of the Convention on the Rights of the Child Committee is provided, with a view to demonstrating the strength of the connection between agency and voice. Looking from the bottom up, therefore, the article then pursues the voices of the bullied children themselves. It places its ear to the ground, so to speak, through an examination of complaints submitted by children to the Ombudsman for Children, in order to “hear” the voices of children subjected to bullying at school, before they are formulated in legal terms before judicial bodies. Finally, I offer a close reading of the report on Section 9a commissioned by the Norwegian Government, published in a 2015 Report (the “Djupedal Report”) in tandem with the leading Supreme Court 2012 decision on bullying, so as to critically examine the fulfilment of Article 12 in Norway. In the final analysis, I argue that in Norwegian bullying cases, though the child has the legal right to be heard, there is no voice, due to the limitations of legal agency for children pursuant to Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Keywords:  bullying; child rights; legal agency; Ombudsman; right to be heard



© Sevda Clark. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.