Children and adolescents under the age of 18 comprise 24 per cent of the Norwegian population (2005). Of this, roughly 77 per cent lives in cities or urban centres. Norway has a fertility rate of 1.83, which is relatively high compared to many other European countries.
The government authorities place great importance on creating a safe and secure environment for all young people growing up in Norway. This entails among other things ensuring equal opportunities for all. Efforts to prevent marginalization and promote equitable living conditions for children and adolescents play a key role in this process.
Most children and adolescents in Norway grow up under good conditions. They live in secure surroundings within an ample financial framework. Some, however, must still contend with a variety of challenges, including inadequate caregiving, abuse, bullying, substance abuse, difficulty in meeting educational objectives and problems in entering the labour market. The Norwegian authorities are working actively to find solutions to these problems.
A government publication detailing the objectives and priority areas in this sphere as realized through the national budget is issued each year in Norwegian (Satsing på barn og ungdom. Regjeringens mål og innsatsområder i statsbudsjettet). This pamphlet is widely distributed to municipalities, counties, NGOs, etc., and provides an excellent overview of the Government’s initiatives relating to children and adolescents.
Each year, the Ministry of Children and Equality selects a Municipality of the Year on children’s and youth issues as part of the effort to encourage municipalities to enhance the environment in which young people develop, and to promote the designation of long-term, constructive child and youth policy. To be qualified for this award, municipalities must have demonstrated a focus on local interaction between various agencies and services, as well as between the public and non-governmental sector. A dialogue with interest groups for children and young people must be in place, and the municipality must have implemented activities to ensure that children and young people achieve genuine influence at the local level.