More revelations surface in the Amsterdam child abuse case, while child poverty comes under the spotlight. A young man refuses to be a ‘victim’ of anti-Semitism, a robber’s killer is released and football and cocaine feature at a sports gala – that's in today’s papers.
Sleepover parties in child abuse case
Today’s papers give yet more disturbing details about the Amsterdam child abuse case, news of which broke over the weekend. At the centre of the case is a 27-year-old male child care worker, “Robert M” (last name withheld for legal reasons). He is suspected of abusing between 30 and 50 children at various day care centres. His husband is in custody on child pornography charges. A third man, another crèche worker, is also being held on suspicion of child abuse.
Meanwhile, de Volkskrant reports that the director of one of the crèches where Robert M worked has stepped down from his post. Police are investigating allegations made by parents that sleepover parties involving children were held at his house. The paper prints an advertisement from the day care’s newsletter for a ‘leaving party’ for 4-year-olds about to go on to nursery school. The party was scheduled to end at 8pm and would involve “eating and drinking all together: tasty rolls, fries, a barbeque and ice cream”.
De Telegraaf goes one step further and treats its mass readership to a large front-page photograph of the crèche director’s house, giving his name and the small town where he lives. “Paedophile Palace?” reads the headline. It says parents were not welcome at the sleep-over parties organised for groups of about 10 children at a time. Mattresses were apparently spread out in a large room in the house.
AD leads with the report that the police are investigating “serious evidence” that Robert M abused yet more children under an assumed name. The paper also reports the sleep-over parties at the crèche director’s house but makes it clear that he is not suspected of child abuse. He is, however, thought to have left the children in the care of the suspected men. Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan is quoted as saying: “If you’re a child care worker, it’s not very professional to hold sleep-over parties at your home”.
Child poverty increasing
Today’s Trouw chooses to lead with another story of wronged Dutch children, but this time it’s about poverty. A report from the Netherlands Institute for Social Research says one in ten Dutch children grow up poor. And the number is on the increase, it warns.
The children are at their most vulnerable up to the age of 15, after which they tend to get part-time jobs and break out of poverty. Many of the 311,000 poor youngsters are part of one-parent families and 40 percent of them are in families receiving government aid. Over 25 percent of one-parent families are making do with less than the official minimum income. The report puts this at 1,310 euros a month for a parent with one child and 1,490 euros a month for a parent with two children.
The increase in child poverty has come as a surprise because, between 2000 and 2007, nation-wide measures were introduced that led to a reduction in the numbers of poor children. The report also indicates there is little poverty among the elderly. Only about 2.5 percent of people over 65 are said to be unable to afford the basic necessities of life.
Refusal to play the ‘victim’
This morning’s nrc.next leads with a letter written to the paper by a young Dutch Jewish man in response to recent comments by Frits Bolkestein. The veteran politician said that people who are recognisably Jewish would be better advised to leave the Netherlands for the USA or Israel because of the anti-Semitism of the country’s increasing Dutch-Moroccan population.
In his letter, the 25-year-old says he quickly became aware as a child that he couldn’t wear his yarmulke all the time and describes incidents where he was threatened or spat at because it was clear that he was Jewish. At first, he was surprised about the fuss which greeted Mr Bolkestein’s remarks, which as far as he was concerned simply described the reality of the situation - the security necessary at synagogues, schools, and even around parties organised by young Jewish people. However, his answer to this reality is quite different from that of the politician.
“I’m Dutch. I’m convinced that the Netherlands is a place where everyone enjoys complete rights and where people can go about freely. Bizarrely, this does not hold true for me. But I refuse to be a victim.” He says he’s working positively within his surroundings and is optimistic about the pluralistic future of “our country”. “We’re staying,” he goes on. “Not just Jews, but all of us: regardless of religion, cultural background or personal preferences.” He questions whether the situation would be much different in some other European countries and finally asks which political party he should vote for to guarantee his safety walking around sporting a yarmulke or Star of David.
No custody for killer of armed robber
De Telegraaf devotes part of its front page to the case of a shopkeeper who beat off an armed robber, causing him to fall down a set of stairs and break his neck. The man later died in hospital. The shopkeeper has been released on bail, a first according to the paper. It says up to now justice authorities have always held people who seriously injure their attackers in custody.
The paper says two Dutch-Moroccan men, aged 19 and 20, attempted to rob the supermarket yesterday evening. Shop employees were threatened with a gun and shots were fired. The younger thief got away, but the elder one was found at the bottom of some stairs on the premises “more dead than alive” according to neighbours.
Football and cocaine feature at sports gala
AD covers yesterday’s gala where the Dutch sporting personalities of the year were announced. It says for years the football establishment and the event organisers didn’t seem to get along. This year, however, they seem to have made up. The Dutch national squad were voted Best Sports Team 2010 and their trainer Bert van Marwijk came away with the Best Coach award.
The paper notes that Sportsman of the Year winner, Olympic champion skater Mark Tuitert, made his entrance at the same time as Yuri van Gelder, the former champion rings gymnast who has been embroiled in allegations that he’s back using cocaine. The paper says all the cameras present honed in on Van Gelder leaving Tuitert in the cold.