22. juli-senteret

Disaster experts

The report «Katastrofeekspertene» (Disaster experts), about continue living after Utøya 22 July 2011, was published in 2012. An expert group comprising nine youths who experienced the terror attack wrote the report. The initiative for this group came from one of the youths themselves. The Ombudsman for Children applied to the Directorate of Health for funding to write the report, which was duly granted. The three boys and six girls in the expert group were aged 16 and 17 when the group started its work. The youths represented themselves in the expert group, and not the Norwegian Labour Party’s youth organisation.

They are experts on life after a terror attack, as they have first-hand knowledge of what is important following an event like 22 July. The expert group shared their personal experiences of how they felt they had been treated by their school and the support system, among others. They also shared their experiences of dealing with the press and the follow-up they received from their counsels.

The objective of the report was to collect information to provide the best possible basis for follow-up and adaptation for children and youths who experience serious personal disasters.  

 

So what do the experts say?

The youths in the expert group emphasised that they do not wish to be portrayed as a single group with identical experiences of 22 July and the time after. Each person who survived Utøya has his or her own experience of what happened, his or her own individual needs and his or her own story.  Their different experiences nonetheless provide an overall basis for giving advice on how to best meet the needs of children and youths in crises. The youths share their experiences of how they are treated at school, by the media, what health services have been available to them and how their lives have been with family and friends in the time after. The youths come from different parts of Norway and the report therefore also addresses the local variation in the follow-up.

Many publications in recent years have dealt with the terror attack on 22 July 2011. The  experiences of the youths coincide with findings from research and the evaluation of the psychosocial follow-up after Utøya. In 2016, the disaster experts met again to discuss how they were doing five years after the terror attack, four years after their last meeting  Some of the topics from the first report were less relevant five years later, while other topics, such as the support system’s follow-up of the youth and their families was every bit as relevant in 2016 as it had been five years earlier.