Young crime victims rising despite drop in young offenders

(Photo: Ranveig/Dodo / Wikimedia Commons)(Photo: Ranveig/Dodo / Wikimedia Commons)

Children are increasingly often becoming the victims of crimes such as assault, robbery or vandalism. In 2013, one in five young people aged 15 to 18 was the victim of violence or a crime against property.

This is evident from the Children's Rights Monitor 2013 by Children's Ombudsman Marc Dullaert. This is the third time that the Children's Ombudsman has monitored the state of the observance of children's rights in the Netherlands on the basis of facts and figures.

According to him, children are too often the victim. "This monitor shows that the Netherlands falls short in ensuring the safety of children", said the Dullaert. Each year approximately 62 thousand children become victims of criminal sexual assault. The number of registered child victims of human trafficking has also increased. 10 percent of young people between 15 and 18 have to deal with online bullying. There was also an increase in the number of reports of child pornography.

One of Dullaert's biggest concerns is the number of children growing up in poverty. In 2012 there were 432 thousand children living in households with low income. Another 380 thousand children are growing up in a family with the so called not-much-but-sufficient criterion. An increasing number of children are growing up in single parent families.

The Children's Ombudsman has observed that the government is aware of the need to tackle child poverty. More and more municipalities are providing child packages to children in need, so as to provide for basic needs.

The Children's Ombudsman also continues to focus on child abuse. According to him, there is no prospect of a decline in this problem. Dullaert feels that municipalities can do more to protect children.

On the brighter side, the monitor shows that the approach to juvenile offenders is working. The number of juvenile offenders is 47 percent lower than in 2007. There are also fewer young people staying in a juvenile institution.

The Children's Ombudsman also feels that the government could involve children more in matters that affect them, such as when changing laws and policies that deal with children. "It is not that children know better than adults. But it is also not necessarily the other way around. Children see things from a different perspective and can thus make a valuable contribution." says Dullaert.