Help for troubled children and youth in the Barents region

The troubled children and youth have many similarities in different parts of the Barents region, like lack of adequate parental care, adaptation difficulties towards school or pro-social groups, aggression or drug problems. The governmental policies for improving life conditions for these children and youth are also similar. However, there are great differences in law and organizational structures as well as in the methods that are used to solve the problems.

Children and Youth at Risk in the Barents region (CYAR) is a co-operation programme which is situated in Norway and run by a Steering Committee, composed by all Barents partners.

“The Purpose of the programme is to create frameworks for sharing and building competence between Nordic countries and Russia. We want to create opportunities to exchange information and experience in a very concrete way”, says Pål-Christian Bergstrøm, Chairman of the CYAR Steering Committee. Mr. Bergstrom represents the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality in the Barents Cooperation.

CYAR programme tries to find common solutions to common problems with marginalized children and youth. The problems of the children are related and dealt with in educational, health or social services. Police and correctional services are also involved.

The programme emphasizes the meaning of the family in all its activities. One of the components in the CYAR programme is the project ‘The Incredible Years in Russia’ which is a result of a long collaboration between Norway and Russia.

There have been training courses for many groups of specialists in parent guidance based on ‘The Incredible Years’. It is a programme that Dr. Caroline Webster-Stratton has developed to train parents, teachers and children’s social skills. It is recommended especially for children with conduct problems.
In Russia, the programme has involved parents of children between 3 and 8 years old with behavior problems. The parents have experienced difficulties in communicating with their children, and they have felt powerless to solve the problems without help.

The programme was first applied in Russia six years ago, and after that it has extended to ten cities in Russia. So far, there have been families with approximately 500 children who have completed it.

“We’ve had very positive results with the children participating in ‘The Incredible Years’. A Norwegian-Russian research group has monitored and evaluated the effect of the programme on childrens’ behavior, and there has been a huge drop in seriously negative behavior. This is why the demand for The Incredible Years continues to rise throughout the Barents region”, concludes Mr. Bergstrom.

Norway has approved a total of one million euro for 2010-2012, to finance dissemination of knowledge-based methods to improve the conditions for youth and children at risk in the Barents Region. It is a response to the growing concern for marginalized youth and children in the region.

Committee on Youth and Children at Risk