Children in foster families and youth care facilities are three to four times more often the victims of child sex abuse compared to children living with their parents.
Children with a mild mental retardation living in group homes are ten times more often the victims of sexual abuse. National daily de Volkskrant writes that a group of scientists from the University of Leiden conclude that abuse among children in youth care was 'shockingly common'. The study, conducted on behalf of the Samson Commission, covers the period from 2008 to 2010.
The scientists write that sexual abuse is still a major taboo. Half the abuse victims were too afraid to name their abuser, even when the questionnaire was completely anonymous. Those who did answer named institutional workers as their abusers, as well as foster parents and fellow group members.
Parliament asked the Samson Commission to investigate sex abuse among adolescents placed in institutions or foster families by the government. The commission was formed in 2010 in addition to the Deetman Commission which investigates child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic church.
The main difference with the reports received by the Deetman Commission is that children who are placed in child care most often are the victims of earlier abuse or neglect at the hands of their parents.
Child sex abuse is more common among girls than among boys and is more frequent in youth care facilities than in foster families, which is why the scientists argue for the use of youth care facilities only as a temporary emergency solution.
The number of carers involved providing 24/7 care is seen as the main cause of a “fragmented upbringing with little continuity and stability in the relationships between children and their professional care givers.”
The final report of the commission, led by former attorney general Rieke Samson, is expected in October.
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