Responding to Abuse -- Compassion or Control?
MARIAN A. S. ROELOFS
HERMAN E. M. BAARTMAN
In this chapter we describe the child abuse and neglect reporting system and the methods of intervention used in the Netherlands. First we discuss some recent developments concerning public awareness of child abuse and neglect. To make these developments understandable we have to place them in a historical context that illustrates how the attention paid to child abuse since the beginning of the 1970s relates to a tradition of child protection, which goes back to the turn of the century. Second we discuss the meaning of the concept of child maltreatment, especially with regard to its judicial implications. Third the Dutch system of reporting cases of child abuse and, more specifically, the Dutch Confidential Doctor Offices ( Bureau Vertrouwensarts) and their strategies are described. Fourth we describe some recent trends in reporting child abuse and in the policy of placements. Finally some current dilemmas with regard to child abuse policies are discussed.
At the end of the 1960s articles about child abuse and neglect were published in Dutch journals. Some Dutch pediatricians and social workers, stimulated by Kempe and colleagues' ( Kempe, Silverman, Steele, Droegemueller, & Silver , 1962) classic article, started to respond to signals of child abuse. Their efforts led to the formation of the Dutch Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ( Vereniging tegen Kindermishandeling) in 1970 and the establishment of four Confidential Doctor Offices in 1972, two in the urban conglomeration of western Holland, one in the northern region, and one in the eastern part. This organization gives doctors the opportunity of reporting cases of