Netherlands slammed for not prioritizing children during the pandemic
The Netherlands has received criticism for the way the government handled the coronavirus crisis in terms of education in primary and secondary schools. Youth rights were by no means prioritized in coronavirus-related policies, children’s advocacy group Kids Rights concluded in their annual report.
"Research on the Netherlands implies that child abuse intensified during the first lockdown in the country in spring 2020 and that the number of victims of emotional neglect (including neglect of education and the witnessing of domestic violence) went up significantly," the report stated.
According to the report, reliable estimates indicate that the numbers might even have nearly tripled. Almost 40,000 children are likely to have been in a situation similar to the one described during the first lockdown. By comparison, 15,000 were in a similar situation in 2017.
Generally, the Netherlands ranks fifth among 182 countries in terms of respecting children’s rights. However, a special report accompanying this year's edition which focused specifically on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on kids, pointed out major shortcomings.
Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge stated on Dutch public television in December 2020 that one of the reasons for the decision to close schools was to ensure that their parents would minimize their mobility and stay at home and work. This example was mentioned in the report as a ‘negative government practice’.
"It drew attention to the fact that, after 18 weeks of partial secondary school closures in the Netherlands, the Dutch government in the Netherlands still did not even refer to the full resumption of secondary education in the formal ‘Opening Plan’ that was placed in the spring of 2021," the report further stated.
The Netherlands Office of the Ombudsman for Children was praised in the report for having an accessible section about coronavirus on its website, targeting children directly. "Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands (supported by the Minister of Health) also used children’s press conferences for reaching out to children with coronavirus information," the report found.
The work by the Cabinet formation leaders to consult with political parties about youth advancement also received a commendation.