Universiteit Leiden

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Mariëlle Bruning

Professor of Children and the Law

Prof.mr.drs. M.R. Bruning
+31 71 527 8913

Prof. Dr. Mariëlle Bruning is professor of Child Law at Leiden Law School.

More information about Mariëlle Bruning


Professor Mariëlle Bruning has been affiliated to the Institute of Private Law since October 2004 as a professor of Child Law at Leiden Law School. She is Programme Director of the Dutch LLM in Child Law, a specialized programme for those working with and for children in the legal field. Bruning teaches various courses in child law for bachelor’s and master’s students and post-academic courses for professionals. She teaches Child Protection and Children’s Rights in the LLM Advanced Studies in International Children’s Rights programme.


Mariëlle Bruning (1972) finished her master’s degrees in Law and Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Maastricht. After her studies she first worked as a junior researcher and then as a lecturer at the Law faculty of the VU University of Amsterdam. From 2001 to 2004 she was also vice-director of the Amsterdam Center of Child Studies (an interfaculty institute) at the VU University of Amsterdam.  In 2001 she obtained her doctorate entitled Justification of Child Protection – towards a New Child Protection System After 100 Years of Child Protection.

In 2004 she was appointed as a part time professor at Leiden Law School. Besides her academic career in Leiden she worked as a legal consultant for a youth care agency (Bureau Jeugdzorg Noord-Holland) from 2005 to 2007. On April 11 of 2006 she delivered her inaugural lecture in Leiden: Let’s talk about some children – Information sharing in youth care. From 2007-2010 she was also program manager for the children’s rights organization Defence for Children International – ECPAT Netherlands. In 2010 her position at the Leiden Law School expended when she was appointed full Professor in Child Law. In 2012 she set up the Dutch LLM Child Law and the department of Child Law at Leiden Law School. She is also a teacher in the LLM Advanced Studies in International Children’s Rights, which was set up in 2015 by the department of Child Law. Additionally, she is a member of the Academic Integrity Committee of Leiden University.


Mariëlle Bruning regularly publishes on youth care, child protection, child abuse and children’s rights issues. Recent publications focus, among other things, on participation of children in family law and child protection proceedings, international obligations in relation to tackling child abuse in the Netherlands, rights minors who are placed out of home, the influence of the Dutch Youth Act and the revised measures in child protection on the rights of minors and address the influence of international children’s rights in the Netherlands.

Her research focuses on the legal position of the child and the triangular relations between the rights and duties of parents, children and the state, with special attention to child protection, youth care, children in alternative care (out of home placement), data exchange on minors and privacy issues and legal aspects of child abuse.

Bruning has extensive experience in contract research and consultancy in the broad field of child law. For example, she and colleagues carried out research into severe criminal youth sanctions (2011) and into legal options for (compulsory) assistance to vulnerable young adults after child protection measures (2016, client WODC). From 2012 to 2016 she carried out research into the implementation of children’s rights in the Netherlands on behalf of the Dutch Ombudsman for Children (development and follow-up of the Children’s Rights Monitor). She also conducted research into the right to participate of minors who are confronted with youth assistance and child protection (through Pro Juventute, from 2016-2018). She was also responsible for the Evaluation of the Act on the Dutch Ombudsman for Children and she participated in the First Evaluation of the Dutch Youth Act (2018, commissioned by ZonMW). She recently carried out research into the right to be heard and the legal status of minors in family law and child protection proceedings, focusing among others things on whether the age limit for hearing minors of twelve years should be lowered and whether minors should be given more opportunities to initiate proceedings themselves (2018-2019, commissioned by the WODC).

Ancillary functions

Bruning is a honorary deputy judge at the Amsterdam Court (in the department Family and Youth). As from 2018, she is a member of the Supervisory Board of SOS Children’s Villages Netherlands and since 2019 also of Foundation the Home base Social Work. From 2018 to 2019 Bruning was member of the Group of Experts on Responses to Violence Against Children (CAHENF-VAC) of the Council of Europe, which was established to assist CAHENF in improving the implementation of international and Council of Europe standards on the protection of children from violence in member States. She was from 2015 to 2019 member of the Committee Violence in Youth Care (Committee De Winter). Bruning was editor-in-chief of the Dutch Journal of Family and Child Law (2012-2018).

Professor of Children and the Law

  • Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid
  • Instituut voor Privaatrecht
  • Jeugdrecht

Work address

Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden
Room number B 3.41


  • Stichting De Thuisbasis lid Raad van Toezicht
  • SOS Kinderdorpen Nederland lid Raad van Toezicht
  • Tijdschrift voor Gezondheidsrecht lid redactieraad
  • Rechtbank Amsterdam Rechter-plaatsvervanger (team familie- en jeugd)
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