On a day that newspapers report that the Netherlands is ‘a preferred’ terrorist target, a bigger threat to Dutch society seems to be alienated teenagers.
The explosive increase in the number of young people with serious problems ‘is a bomb under society’, says an official from the children’s social services in the Volkskrant.
The statistics he presents are indeed as frightening as the merciless stare of Osama bin Laden. The number of referrals to the social services is growing by 10-25% annually. Its organisation’s psychiatric unit has 10,000 (!) children on its waiting list.
And the number of children dropping out from the lowest tier of secondary education is growing – as is the number of ‘child vagrants’. To cap it all, there has been a massive influx into the benefits system for young people with a handicap, which includes psychiatric problems. These are big scary numbers for such a tiny country.
So what’s up? Have parents been too lax? Do children need more structure and rules? Or is Holland, as an advanced society, showing the first symptoms of a malaise in modern society?
Whatever the cause, the symptoms are severe enough to warrant a remedy and fast. Listening to politicians one gets the feeling that they are underestimating the problem. Or rather they are content to sweep it under carpet or into a benefits system.
Social services says we need to prepare these youngsters properly for the high-tech labour market. Now there’s a start. Get on with it government!
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