Parents are required under the law to care for their children, to demonstrate care and respect, and to observe their duties of upbringing to meet the interests and needs of their children.

"Children aged 12 and under may not be out of doors after 20:00 unless accompanied by an adult. During the period from 1 May to 1 September, children are permitted to stay outdoors for a further two hours. The age limits for this provision refer to the year of birth, not to the date of birth.” Excerpts from the Child Protection Act.

Children's rights

  • A child has the right to a relationship with both of its parents even if they are separated. A mother is obliged to declare the paternity of her child if she is neither married, nor in a registered cohabitation.
  • Parents have the duty to protect their children against mental and physical abuse and other menaces.
  • Parents shall instill in their children a spirit of industry and morality, provide them with the education required by the law, and to the best of their ability contribute to the education of their children and see to it that their children receive vocational training in accordance with the children's abilities and interests.
  • Parents shall consult with their children before making decisions concerning their children's personal affairs. The position and view of the child shall be given more importance as the child grows older and matures.

Child protection and the welfare of children

  • The Government Agency for Child Protection has two principal tasks. On the one hand, any issues that relate to the activities of the municipal child-welfare committees and, on the other hand, the supervision and control of specialised treatment homes for children.
  • The objective of the Government Agency for Child Protection is to ensure that children that live under unacceptable conditions or children that endanger their own health and maturity receive the necessary aid. The Act applies to all children within the territory of the Icelandic state.
  • The child welfare authorities are:
  • municipal child-welfare committees,
  • The Government Agency for Child Protection,
  • Ministry of Social Affairs,
  • Child Protection Appeals Board
  • Accidents involving children occur frequently, and it is the duty of adults to be aware of the environment of the child. When the causes of accidents are studied, it frequently turns out that the accident could have been avoided through preventive action and training.

Children and bullying

  • Bullying is violence and social ostracism and has serious consequences for the victim.
  • Bullying takes place between an individual and a group or between two individuals. Bullying can be verbal, social, material, mental and physical.
  • The victim of bullying feels unwelcome and excluded from a group, to which it has no choice other than to belong; for instance, a school class or a family.
  • Many primary schools have set up action plans because of bullying, as there is a duty to react when it happens. The schools also work on preventive measures.
  • Bullying can also have permanently damaging consequences for the perpetrator.

Primary school

  • Primary schools provide schooling for a period of ten years, according to the law. Generally, it is expected that children begin classes in the year when they have their sixth birthday, but the law nevertheless permits earlier or later entrance in certain circumstances.
  • The local communities carry the principal responsibility for the operation of schools and the implementation of the Primary School Act, and the Ministry of Education supervises the affairs of primary schools. Primary schooling is compulsory and the local communities have the duty to provide all children between the ages of 6 and 16 who have a legally registered domicile in the community with admittance to a school.
  • According to the Primary School Act, children and young people who have difficulties studying because of specific learning difficulties and/or disabilities have the right to receive special support in their studies.
  • Parents are responsible for having their children registered in primary school and attending school. The school committee shall ensure that all children at the age of compulsory education receive the mandatory education.
  • The registration of children enrolling at primary school takes place during the spring semester of the same calendar year, and the registration process is advertised. Application forms and further information can be obtained from the websites of the primary schools and the local communities.
  • If a child moves during the school year, notice must be given; this applies to moving from one neighbourhood to another, from one constituency to another, and also if a child has been in a private school. Relocation forms and further information can be obtained from the websites of the primary schools.
  • Whole student cohorts that transfer from one school to another after finishing the sixth and seventh years do not need to be registered.

Leisure centres

  • Primary schools in the larger local communities offer recreational activities for 6- to 9-year-old children at the end of the regular school day.
  • If parents wish their children to use the services, they need to register them in time. Primary school websites provide information on leisure activities, how much they cost and what their arrangements are.

Links of interest

Laws and regulations