A record number of 2,710 children were being cared for in secure institutions last year, a rise of 8% on 2016, according to a new report by Unicef and Defence for Children.
The decision to lock up a child is often ‘too drastic’ and the help to vulnerable children falls short in ‘far too many cases’, the organisations said.
‘The figures have to come down,’ Suzanne Laszlo, director of Unicef Nederland told NOS radio. ‘No child should ever be put in a secure institution unless there is a psychiatric need to do so. And that is not always the case.’
Children often end up institutionalised because of the growing waiting lists for youth social services. In addition, there is no overview of what care services are available since responsibility was decentralised to a local authority level, Laszlo said.
Nevertheless, on the whole the situation facing children in the Netherlands has improved, she said. For example, improvements have been made to systems for reporting a registering child abuse and there has been a drop of 26% in the number of children held in police cells.