Number of young children put in special care up

23rd June 2008, Comments 0 comments

About 30 percent of Flemish children put in special care are under the age of 10.

23 June 2008

BELGIUM – About 30 percent of Flemish children that have been put in special care are just 10 years of age.

According to a report by the Youth Welfare Agency, the overall majority ended up in care following abuse or neglect or because they showed such unruly behaviour their parents no longer knew what to do with them.

Most of the problem children that receive counselling or are put into care are teenagers.

But an alarming 30 percent of the children is under the age of 10 with about 10 percent who are not even as old as five. The number of younger children in care is on the rise.

Some 7 percent of the children end up in highly secured homes such as there are in Mol in Antwerp province or in the Flemish Brabant town of Everberg. The great bulk is sent to open homes, foster families or get specialised care at home.

It would be wrong to think that they are all delinquents.

Of the 22,500 children that receive special care, 12 percent have committed some sort of crime.

The overall majority are there because of education problems. They haven been neglected or abused by their parents or in fact showed unruly behaviour themselves. The last group especially is growing faster than the government can anticipate to.

“Given the statistics, it’s absolutely vital to act as soon as possible," Flemish Welfare Minister Steven Vanackere points out.

 “The sooner our intervention, the bigger our chances are to help prevent future catastrophes.”

Half of the children in care have been put there by the juvenile Court, the others have come voluntarily.

Girls represent 45 percent of the figures. The motive for being sent to a home seems to be gender-related, though. Whereas boys tend to commit crimes, girls have suffered from abuse or behaved appallingly themselves.

Because prevention remains better than cure, welfare organisations underline the importance of every one taking part in the education process.

“Bringing up children is not just the task of schools and institutions, families play a major role too,” it is said.

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