Police discourage reports on sexual abuse in childcare: report

The police discourage parents from filing charges if they believe their child is being sexually abused at a childcare institution, BOinK, the interest group for parents in childcare, and lawyers who work with sex crime victims said to RTL Nieuws. The police told the broadcaster that they have to discuss the chances of a case's success with parents, but it is not meant to be a discouragement.

"We see that little has been learned from previous major cases", lawyer Richard Korver, chairman of the National Lawyers Network for Violent and Sex Crime Victims, said to the broadcaster. ""Then it is said: it is difficult to prove. They are small children. Fantasy and play get mixed up." According to the lawyer, the decision to dismiss a case is often made too quickly. "I also hear that from colleagues." A serious investigation is rare.

According to Korver, the police can do much more than they often do now, even if the child is still very young. "An average child of 2.5 does not really invent certain things. Thus if the child comes with certain signals, it should at least be reason to find out if it could be correct."

Gjalt Jellesma of BOink is approached with some regularity by parents who feel they are not being taken seriously. "That's a double blow", Jellesma said to the broadcaster. "First your child tells you something that you never want to hear from your child. Then you have to make it public and are not taken seriously. That is really terrible for parents. Really bad that the police look away. That has to change."

RTL also spoke to several parents who confirmed what BOinK and the lawyer said. One set of parents told the broadcaster that their 3-year-old child told them something had happened at childcare one night during bedtime. When they went to the police they were told that filing charges was not an option. Questioning children under the age of 4 is difficult and there is therefore little chance that the police can do anything, they were told. 

""The ease with which a story is wiped off the table. It is also a license for those who want to do harm, a scot free declaration for children up to 4 years of age", the parents said to the broadcaster. "Horrible, because a few months later it became clear that there were at least three or four other cases of possible abuse. The employee was never considered a suspect. Nor was his computer investigated."

The police told RTL that they take every signal of abuse at a childcare institution seriously. But they always sketch a picture of the feasibility of pressing charges. "There are advantages and disadvantages that we want to make clear to parents. People sometimes experience this as discouragement, but that is certainly not the intention", Jan de Jong of the Amsterdam vice squad said to the broadcaster. According to the police, the problem is that children under the age of four are difficult to question. 

The National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence Against Children previously advised that if a sex crime is suspected, the suspect's data carriers like phone and computer must be searched as quickly as possible. So far little has been done with this advice, the Rapporteur said to the broadcaster.