Young people in youth care report frequent verbal and physical violence
About a quarter of young people staying in youth care institutions have experienced physical violence and almost half have experienced verbal violence. These revelations came from the State Secretary for Health Maarten van Ooijen in a letter to the Tweede Kamer on Friday.
The statistics were based on research in which young people were asked about their sense of safety in youth care. It was not specified whether the verbal and physical violence came from care providers or other young people.
In youth care, 81 percent of young people indicated that they feel safe with their supervisor and institution and 23 percent indicated that they sometimes felt unsafe in the vicinity of their current residence. The research concluded that most young people feel safe, but their answers are also due in large part to their perception of what is “normal.”
“There were young people who indicated that they had come to find things normal in the context they were in and only realized at the next institution that this was not normal,” Van Ooijen said.
The study looked at all forms of residential youth care, including foster care, family homes, open residential accommodation and closed youth care. In addition, Juvenile Correctional Institutions (JJIs), Small-Scale Juvenile Provisions (KVJJs) and reception centers for unaccompanied minor refugees were also included in the study.
Young people in the JJIs seemed to feel less safe than those in other institutions. They also experienced verbal and physical abuse more often, according to the research. Young people in family homes experienced the least amount of violence, relatively speaking.
It is important to note that a limited number of young people, approximately 120, took part in the study. Therefore, it is difficult to make statements about specific groups of young people, the researchers said.
In the letter, Van Ooijen promised to conduct the investigation again in two years’ time, with the goal to increase the response. “Violence and insecurity within youth care remains a very important subject and deserves our attention,” he said.
The study was prompted by a 2019 report on violence in youth care, which concluded that 75 percent of children and young people who were in youth care institutions between 1945 and 2019 had been victims of physical, psychological or sexual violence.
Reporting by ANP