Preventing and identifying signs of child abuse

The government has introduced measures to put a stop to child abuse. It is important that signs of child abuse are identified sooner, so that steps can be taken to stop the abuse at an earlier stage and limit the harm to the child.

Parenting support

Child abuse usually occurs in the home. If parents or caregivers are no longer able to cope with caring for their children, this can result in dysfunctional behaviour and lead to neglect and abuse. That is why municipalities offer parents support and advice through the Youth and Family Centres (‘Centrum voor Jeugd en Gezin’) and baby and toddler clinics. When there are concerns about a family, professionals may make home visits more frequently. They work with the parents to identify their problems and discuss what kind of support they need.

Central government supports the municipalities, for example by spreading good examples of parenting support practices. It also pays for research into what methods work well. Central government gives financial support to the Netherlands Youth Institute, which encourages knowledge-sharing with and between municipalities.

Public information campaigns against child abuse

The government is running a public information campaign aimed at preventing child abuse. It urges neighbours, relatives and others who are close to children in abusive situations to take action. The campaign also tells people how they can identify the signs of domestic violence and what action they can take.

Teaching future professionals about child abuse

The government is encouraging educational institutions to include the subject of child abuse in study programmes for future professionals, like doctors, teachers and youth care workers.

Mandatory reporting code in cases of suspected abuse

Professionals (such as teachers and doctors) who suspect abuse are required by law to follow a reporting code for domestic violence and child abuse. This is a step-by-step plan that explains what actions they need to take. One of the minimum requirements that must be met by a reporting code is the ‘child check’. Professionals treating an adult with a certain condition, like addiction, must assess the safety of any children living with the adult. They must also do this with the children of adults living in situations involving domestic violence.

Additional measures to prevent child pornography

Preventing and identifying child pornography falls under the government’s sexual abuse strategy. It is important for parents and young people to become ‘digitally aware’. They need to know that there is a risk of children encountering or becoming involved in child pornography or grooming. The government wants people to be more aware of the risks of using the internet, for example via its media literacy platform.

Preventing sexual abuse in youth care

The government has taken specific measures to prevent sexual abuse in youth care. These measures are based on the recommendations of the Samson commission. This commission carried out an investigation into the abuse of minors in youth care from 1945 until the present day. Victims of sexual abuse can contact the Sexual Abuse Helpline on 0900 9999 001 for assistance.