Amsterdam’s mayor Job Cohen called for the reintroduction of national service (dienstplicht) and greater powers to intervene in problem families in an interview in Thursday’s Telegraaf.
Cohen says the measures, including the ability to remove children from their homes and send them to boarding schools, would would help stop many of them going off the rails.
Ruud van Bennekom, director of the Dutch mayors’ association, said later that Cohen’s ideas were interesting but have ‘to be part of a broader vision.’
According to Cohen, all the care agencies, from justice to the police and social workers, are taking too long to deal with problem families. They are too concerned about the rights of the individual and too little about the social problems they cause, he said. ‘Everyone is doing their best, but it has to be quicker.’
Cohen told the Telegraaf that mayors should be given the power to intervene, take a decision and make things happen.
But Hans Lomans, chairman of the national youth social work organisation pointed out that currently only the courts can decide if a child should be removed from home.
Former integration minister turned VVD MEP Rita Verdonk said Cohen’s plan was in itself good, but that it was five years too late. The mayor should come clean that the problem he was really talking about was ‘Moroccan boys,’ Verdonk said.
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