Vulnerable Children

What children are most vulnerable?

There particularly are concerns about vulnerable children who, for instance, are dealing with a disability, domestic violence, small (poor) housing conditions, poverty, parents with addiction or psychiatric problems. These children have to deal with an unsafe home situation.

Schools, childcare facilities and sports clubs are 'safe places’ for these children where they can escape the tension at home for a while. If these places are not accessible to these vulnerable group of children, they will have a particularly tough time. Furthermore, schools, childcare facilities and youth clubs also have a signalling role. If these places are closed, vulnerable children are also disappearing from sight more quickly.

Why are youth care professionals sounding the alarm?

By doing so youth care professionals are trying to raise awareness within society of the fact that the corona crisis is also making life more difficult for children. By sounding the alarm youth care professionals want to realise:

  • That people help each other in placing children into safety.
  • That people assist in making vulnerable children visible if schools, childcare facilities and youth clubs are closed . Youth care professionals are calling on people to offer a neighbour or relative a helping hand where possible or otherwise to call in the assistance of youth care organisations if they think that a home situation is becoming unsafe.

Why should people help each other and also help not to lose sight of children?

Because it is essential that we make an extra effort to take care of each other and help each other in these times. This applies in general but certainly when it comes to our children. Children are entitled to protection and a safe home.

How can you offer help to children in your environment?

Send a message to your neighbours or to families who you know to ask them how they are coping in these difficult times, give a parent the opportunity to blow off some steam during a telephone conversation. You can offer your neighbours some relief by playing with the child for a while, striking a conversation or help your neighbours by offering them a meal, etc.

Do you think that something is wrong? Talk to the child or the parent. An unsafe home situation is often caused by a feeling of helplessness. You can offer help by listening. Everything which helps to reduce the stress in a family also reduces the risk of escalation within a family.

For all socioeconomic support programmes for families in Bonaire, among others, please also refer to the Government Emergency Package.

If you notice that a situation in a family is becoming unsafe for children, you can also call in the professional assistance of youth care professionals.

When is a home situation unsafe?

A safe home means that a child is safe at home, can grow up in a healthy environment and can develop properly. Sometimes this is not possible because the parent is unable to cope with the care, for instance when parents have psychiatric problems, debts, an addiction or complex relations with violent fights and if there are other stressors which can lead to child abuse.

How do I know whether the situation in my family is unsafe or is becoming unsafe?
What are the signs which indicate an unsafe situation?

There are dozens of signs which could indicate an unsafe situation for children but the existence of one or several signs certainly not always necessarily means child abuse. The more signs there are, the more serious the situation.

Some behavioural signs which children can display are:

  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Withdrawal, depressed behaviour
  • Concentration problems
  • Sexually provocative behaviour
  • Fear of (certain) adults

Some signs displayed by parents are:

  • Strange explanation for physical injury
  • Regular visits with the child to the general practitioner/hospital
  • Showing no interest in the child's achievements
  • Burden the child with too much responsibility

What is child abuse?

Many people recognise the beating of children as child abuse but other forms such as neglect and psychological abuse are mentioned and recognised less frequently. Child abuse is any form of abuse which is threatening to or violent for a child. There are five types of child abuse:

  1. Physical abuse: hitting, kicking, biting, pinching, punching, burning, poisoning, suffocating, intentionally causing falls but also for instance shaking a baby violently.
  2. Physical neglect: failure to provide sufficient food, clothing, hygiene, medical or dental care but also: failure to provide adequate supervision.
  3. Psychological abuse: threaten or verbally abuse the child, belittle, humiliate, scare, burden the child with too much responsibility, set demands which they cannot meet, lock or tie the child up but also: making the child witness violence in the family.
  4. Psychological neglect: failure to give adequate attention, respect, affection, love and contact but also in times of normal school attendance: failure to ensure regular school attendance.
  5. Sexual abuse: penetration with fingers, objects or penis, sexual assault with or without genital contact but also: exposing the child to sex between adults, pornographic material, or making the child touch themselves while another person is watching.

Often different forms occur at the same time.

In what families does child abuse occur?

Child abuse occurs everywhere. In urban areas, in rural areas (kunuku), in families with all kinds of different cultural backgrounds and in both poor and rich families. It can happen to anybody. However, in families where there are many problems (much stress), child abuse occurs more frequently than in families with few problems.

What should you do when unsafe situations arise for children?

Doing nothing is no option. It is extremely important to make it open for discussion. With the people themselves whom it concerns, or if it happens to yourself, with neighbours, friends, family or a teacher at school.... Or with the police, Victim Support (Bureau Slachtofferhulp), Centre for Youth and Family (Centrum voor Jeugd & Gezin), Neighbourhood Development (Wijk Ontwikkeling) or Family Supervision Caribbean Netherlands (Jeugdzorg en Gezinsvoogdij Caribisch Nederland, hereinafter JGCN).

It is often assumed that people do not want others to intervene but the opposite seems to be true: families with child abuse feel ashamed or fear the reactions or consequences. This is why they often keep the abuse hidden for a very long time, as a result of which it persists for an unduly long period of time.

What kind of assistance can JGCN offer?

The assistance which JGCN offers always focuses on reducing the stress and risk factors in a family and on increasing the safety for children. For this purpose JGCN for instance offers assistance aimed at support in child rearing or in dealing with the child's behaviour in another way. JGCN can also call in the assistance of other agencies to offer help to deal with for instance addiction problems, psychiatric problems or aggression problems.

If the family members need to take some time out from each other, JGCN will confer with the family how to organise this. If it concerns a seriously unsafe situation, JGCN will make safety agreements and if necessary it will offer the parent and/or children a safe place.

How can you contact JGCN?

Are you concerned about a child in your environment? Call or send an e-mail to Youth Care and Family Supervision Caribbean Netherlands (Jeugdzorg en Gezinsvoogdij CN (JGCN)).

Are you noticing that the situation in your own family is becoming unsafe? JGCN will be pleased to initiate the proper assistance!

Please contact us if required; we are at your service

Thanks to your alertness and support, we can reduce the risk of domestic violence and child abuse together during this alarming corona crisis which hits vulnerable children particularly hard!