Expatica news

Forced family therapy to reduce youth crime

16 December 2003

AMSTERDAM — New regulations will permit justice officials in Amsterdam from 2004 to order families with one or more criminal children to undergo joint therapy in a bid to reduce the city’s youth delinquency problems.

Judges, the public prosecutor or youth rehabilitation officials will be allowed to offer family members a choice: either they accept therapy or their son, brother of sister will be jailed, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.

The experimental project will run for four years and is being readied for launch. It will probably begin in 2004 as part of crackdown on hardcore criminal youth.

The forced family therapy plan is an initiative from Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen. Amsterdam City Council, the police, prosecutor’s office and social workers will intensify their co-operation through the new approach.

About 1,500 hardcore criminal youths, mainly Moroccans, are responsible for a variety of city problems, ranging from street disturbances through to armed robberies.

Amsterdam residents continually complain they feel unsafe on the streets and Dutch media often focuses on crimes committed by teenagers and Moroccans.
The beating death of city drug addict and the recent police shooting death of a Moroccan man have heightened community concern and social polarisation.

In a bid to reduce the problems, the new therapy programme will be set up by the Amsterdam youth care association (BJAA) and the Derde Oever, a forensics youth psychiatry department of the Amsterdam child and youth psychiatry centre, Bascule.

The aim of the project is to make parents take greater responsibility for the behaviour of their children.

The forced therapy is directed at creating new game rules within a family and places an emphasis on breaking the negative atmosphere within a family by using a different way of communicating. Parents must also set ground rules that will be enforced.

The family therapy will take three to six months and Derde Oever youth psychiatrist René Breuk said after the family therapy is completed, the hardcore criminal youth might also undergo individual therapy to learn how to temper his or her aggression and develop social skills.

The BJAA and the Derde Oever (Third Bank) will be able to offer therapy to 48 families per year. Thirteen families in Amsterdam West have already been singled out for possible therapy.

Each of those families has one or more children actively involved in the beginnings of a criminal life.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch news