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Final report of the De Winter Committee: inadequate protection from violence for children in youth care since 1945

A significant percentage of children who have spent a period in youth care institutions or foster homes since 1945 received inadequate protection from physical, psychological and sexual violence. Interventions by supervisory authorities in cases involving violence were inadequate.

These are the conclusions of the final report of the Committee De Winter, entitled Onvoldoende beschermd, geweld in de Nederlandse jeugdzorg van 1945 tot heden (Inadequate protection, violence in Dutch youth care from 1945 to present) which was presented to Minister De Jonge (Health, Welfare and Sport) and Minister Dekker (Legal Protection). The Committee, with seven professors serving on it, was set up in July 2015 at the request of former State Secretary of Security and Justice, Fred Teeven. Professor Mariëlle Bruning was a member on this Committee. Over a four-year period, the Committee interviewed one thousand people who had stayed in a foster home or youth care institution. In addition, it conducted an extensive study of archives and literature.

Many research groups at universities and research agencies conducted scientific research into violence against children who were placed in care in various sectors such as residential institutions, foster care, youth custodial institutions and secure residential care accommodation, reception centres for unaccompanied minor foreign nationals, child and juvenile psychiatric institutions and youth centres for moderately mentally disabled and institutions for the deaf and blind.  The outcomes of these separate studies have provided much new information about the violence experienced by these children in the period 1945-2018.

The government has responded to the final report via a letter to the House of Representatives, stating:

“This violence should not have occurred. Apologies, acknowledgement, assistance and support for these victims are appropriate.  

Looking back at what occurred from 1945 onwards, those responsible for children in youth care at that time did too little to prevent and stop the violence. The government, too, intervened insufficiently according to the Committee. We acknowledge the distress caused to the victims and wish to learn from the mistakes made in the past to ensure that children today and in the future who are unable to live at home, can grow up in safety. We therefore view the Committee’s report as a mission to prevent vulnerable children, today and in the future, from being exposed to violence. Representatives from the sectors investigated also see a role for themselves in this regard.”

Find more information about the Committee and its report here.

More information (in Dutch) is available via the NOS website.

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