Hundreds of children in solitary confinement

14th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

A study conducted by the newspaper NRC Handelsblad reveals that hundreds of children are locked up in isolation cells each year in the Netherlands because psychiatric clinics do not have the budget and staff to deal with them.

THE NETHERLANDS - Although the law stipulates that solitary confinement can only be used when patients pose "an acute danger" to themselves or others, psychiatrists report that children as young as 12 are confined simply because they are "troublesome".

NRC Handelsblad writes that while the law states that patients may spend no more than seven days in solitary confinement "patients and their families report cases of children staying for weeks or even months in an isolation cell".

The mother of one 12-year-old autistic boy told the newspaper that her son, who was healthy and functioned well before he was sent to a psychiatric clinic for treatment of a number of disturbing events, spent nearly three months in solitary confinement.

"We thought the clinic would provide professional and careful guidance. The opposite occurred. They sent back a seriously damaged child, with a lot of new problems."

The Netherlands Health Care Inspectorate reported 522 cases of involuntary solitary confinement among minors in 2007 and 346 in 2008. However psychiatrists say the number is much higher because when patients do not resist the confinement is considered "voluntary".

Psychiatrist Kommer Jan de Man told NRC Handelsblad: "If they drum up six men (to accompany the patient to the cell) and the patient does not resist, is that voluntary?"

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]

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