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Raw food diet boy must go to school, say social workers

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Youth social workers have begun an emergency procedure to have a 15-year-old boy removed from his home because he is being home schooled.

Tom Watkins' mother, who also only allows him to eat raw food, was given until December 15 to ensure her son attended school but refused to do so.

Francis Kenter says she keeps her child home because he is laughed at by other pupils because of his diet. He has not eaten any cooked food since he was five and does not eat meat, dairy produce, grains, sugar or pulses.

Social services became involved after a doctor raised the alarm, saying Tom’s growth had been stunted by his diet. He has been under social worker supervision for 18 months.

Home schooling is frowned on in the Netherlands and is only permitted when the parent or teacher has local authority recognition.

Tom, who appears to be bilingual and has English family, has been the subject of two documentaries.

Share your thoughts using the comment form below.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

I am a vegan but do not raise my children as such, it is a matter for them to decide how to live when they are old enough. While a raw food diet can be helpful in certain situations, it is totally unacceptable to impose it upon a child.

By Darren | 18 December 2012 9:54 AM

I'm surprised that you name the boy and mother.

By Puck | 18 December 2012 9:55 AM

Hes better off not at school. They learn here at a very slow pace, and there is too much bullying.

By Simon Says | 18 December 2012 11:00 AM

What is wrong about home schooling? Different people needs different types of schooling. There is no one size fits all. School going kids also ended up with all social problems so home schooling with extra activities may be a choice after all especially when kids are frequently bullied in the schools. Maybe it will save costs for gov as well.

By ufo | 18 December 2012 11:20 AM

I know a few people here in NL that are homeschooling their children legally. It's a tough, unfortunate battle to get legal permission, and indeed, the Dutch are leery of homeschool education. This is one reason I consider leaving NL in a few years.
According to this article, however, this mother is not sending her child to school purely because of his diet. I don't think this actually helps the child- it doesn't teach him how to handle differences and be part of a group despite those differences.

By Sam | 18 December 2012 11:20 AM

So when he has to go back to school and is laughed at? What are the social workers going to do about that???

They are all too keen to drag children from the places they would prefer to be (my partner's last wife suffered a similar fate when her child was forcefully extricated to his father - against both mother and child's outspoken wishes).

There is just so much a piece of paper can tell you about how a child feels.

By Gemma | 18 December 2012 4:38 PM

I watched the 1st part (Rauw) and I felt incredibly sad, angry and disturbed. Not only is that poor boy deprived of food, forced to have the diet habits of an adolescent goat, he is robbed of the very joy and social aspects of eating. That's physical and mental abuse, period. And all because of his insane mom's misled conviction to turn him into some rawfoodist messiah for her own validation. That particular scene in Rauw where the entire family was enjoying a hearty christmas dinner but young Tom was only allowed to sip a green veggie juice while staring at the full plates was heart wrenching. They should have involved social services and attempted an intervention a lot earlier!

By Dimitris | 18 December 2012 4:48 PM

To be honest, while his diet is severely restricted, how he's being manipulated is more concerning. In the video his mother is emotionally blackmailing him!

By Sarah | 18 December 2012 5:18 PM

living on the river - "DeNial". Let him eat like a chimpanzee - including raw meat, if you want to be in touch with your planetary biology. The parents ought to be neutered.

By Janka | 18 December 2012 6:09 PM

In Australia we have a lot of children home-schooled by their parents for one reason or another. Sometimes it's because of the remoteness of the country town to the nearest school. In Brisbane city it is a matter of choice and it is under Government supervision. Parents need to stick to State curriculum. As for eating, well that's another matter.

By Sharon Keetels | 18 December 2012 8:08 PM

"Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments."
- R. Heschel

By G. Zelig | 18 December 2012 8:37 PM

Good job Netherlands social workers! I hope he gets to go back to school soon and starts leading a normal life. Remove him from his Mom's overbearing and starving lifestyle.

By Jaylo | 18 December 2012 9:48 PM

Raw food requires a lot of energy to digest. Most raw food people eat meat as well [which has to be sourced very carefully].
A vegan raw food diet as described is known to be a starvation diet, even for an adult. It's almost imposable to consume enough calories for decent health [information from a New scientist article].
I hate to side with the authorities, but this kid is being mistreated.

By Mark Holden | 18 December 2012 10:45 PM

There's a huge difference between bringing up a child properly and abusing the child by inflicting peculiar and even dangerous lifestyle choices. If this is motherly love,then it's a very strange version. Actually,the mother sounds as if she needs some sort of psychiatric help,and I do feel very sorry for the boy to having to suffer this regime year in year out. Best that child services intervene,I think.

By Lee | 19 December 2012 12:04 AM

Poor cowed, brow-beaten boy. What a sad malnourished oppressive woman who is over-thinking their diet. Eating well takes good sense and attunement to one's body's needs, she obviously has neither. You can bet that this boy will rebel against all this as soon as he has the opportunity to get away from her, however the damage to his physiology will by then, be permanent.

By Evji | 19 December 2012 2:29 AM

Fruits and vegetables can provide virtually all the beneficial and necessary nutrients;
provided there is enough variety and they are not cooked above 120*F. Though I think lean meat, cooked at low temperature, is also important though not absolutely necessary.

Society should allow freedom for individuals and families; the burden of proof is on government, to show substantial harm to children.

I recommend the mother compromise and allow meat, but be allowed to continue home schooling (to prevent brainwashing by government instructors).

By Kevin Bjornson | 19 December 2012 3:18 AM

what ridiculous people you have, I am vegetarian, but cook responsibly "grown" meat, as it is up to my children to make their choices later in life. Look how "ingevallen" the mom's face is (her cheeks fallen in), and how bleak and slow communicative the child is (from a small video I can see attached to the news), he seems as tall as our 7 year old daughter, but more than twice as old! I am wondering where the dad is or siblings. The mom looks like she could be his grandma (also due to the diet?)...a lot of discussion could be raised about this. I am not even touching on the area of homeschooling, but what a reason here.

By Cari | 19 December 2012 3:31 AM

Sad to see any child bullied by a parent to adhere to any type of extreme & unnecessary diet.. but there again, not much difference between this & orthodox religion.

In this case it is not the fault of the child who has no voice, but the mother: she should be the one going to school!!

(His mother reminds me of the mother in the movie called 'Carrie', totally obsessed & unsuitable to care for a child: 'feeling sorry for this kid!)

By The visitor | 19 December 2012 4:31 AM

Feel sorry for him to. He should be allowed to eat cheese, eggs, fries, chips etc.

By ufo | 19 December 2012 9:25 AM

'Force me to give you cooked food' How blackmailing and controlling is this woman! My God! The words she uses are so controlling the poor kid doesn't have anything to say. He daren't! Let the courts decide.

By Lin | 19 December 2012 9:30 AM

So much for tolerance. I am not for nor against it, but this is a life choice she is allowed to make. If the childs health is in danger, they should try to find a compromise. Most important is the health and happiness of the child.

By Amelie | 19 December 2012 11:17 AM

I was told she has a dog - I am curious to know what she feeds it on.

By Lin Treadgold | 19 December 2012 12:10 PM

The social workers have a point here. It looks to me the mother is acting like a cult member and she is brainwashing the kid. I am not sure it is not too late to take measures, he is a teenager already.

Sadly for the boy this is a half of his problems. The other half is the bullying, which appears to have a strong presence in the Dutch schools and emerges only if something like this happens and gets media coverage. The authorities are responsible to handle the violence in the schools and they appear to fail.

Poor little fella!

By George | 19 December 2012 1:02 PM

The issue here is much more complex; fried food, meat, dairy products are NOT healthy food choices. I am concerned about the young man bc he is driven into social isolation and made into a martyr; he is not free to make his own choices in life from both sides; attending an alternative school with open minded individuals instead of the government approved brainwashing nonsense might be more appropriate for him. I believe it is ok to experiment and come to one's own conclusions, so the mother should let the young man decide what he wants to eat so he can make up his own mind.

By Dr. Frankenstein | 19 December 2012 4:38 PM

And another narcissistic mother ruins a child's life. Poor kid, he looks anything but happy in that screenshot.

By Stupid | 19 December 2012 7:12 PM

If that kid chose himself to eat like that, there's nothing wrong. But that's clearly not the case. He should be allowed to have balanced meals, simple as that.

Most important point that the mother told on the news: bullying is not the only reason she keeps him home. One of the reasons is also... so he won't eat chips and such! In other words, though she didn't say it like this: so she can better control what her son eats! Really! That tells me alot.

Hopefully that kid will enjoy his very first christmas meal, and his very first oliebollen.

By Someone | 19 December 2012 9:38 PM

Agree with Darren: that is is unacceptable to impose it upon a child." She is really nuts I would almost say! VERY extreme! I've been vegan and vegetarian and now Primal/Paleo, feel best ever. Just look at people in the blue zones and what they eat. People in these zones get very old in extremely good health. They are not vegan or raw food eaters, they are omnivores, who eat a diverse range of foods in moderation.

By Monique | 20 December 2012 3:40 AM

OMG Dimitris, I just read your comment, wow, well said and funny too :-) I had the same feeling of her being a "rawfoodist messiah" it's like people stuck in a religious sect. She is also referring to a lot of so called science that is NOT true! Sad, very sad!

By Monique | 20 December 2012 3:47 AM

Why If as one person says, she is vegetarian would you think it is acceptable to give your child meat. Every parent makes choices for their child, though as he is now 15 he should make the choices.

By tina rickards | 20 December 2012 11:01 AM

Clearly raw foodism isn't a complete panacea. This woman clearly seems afflicted with Münchausen syndrome by proxy.

By Jokocogo | 31 December 2012 9:43 AM

A very brave woman for standing up against general belief . I am on her side .It is ok for parents to feed their children junkfood ?

By nathalie van egmond | 1 January 2013 5:33 AM

Extremism is always bad, be it stuffing your kid full of twinkies or depriving them of a balanced diet by only feeding them raw vegetables.
BOTH will cause severe health issues..so is this mother brave? Do we think a 300 pound woman with a 10 year old son that already weighs 95 pounds is brave? NO.
Going against the norm isn't always a brave thing to do, sometimes it is reckless, harmful and downright stupid..this is one of those times.
The best diet is lots of vegetables and the occasional (organic/free-range/etc.) fish, egg or meat dish and some dairy products in small amounts as well. Balance is key.

By Uniscorn | 30 January 2013 9:46 PM

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