Children kept in extreme isolation in closed youth care institutions: Report

From the NLTimes, which covers the Netherlands, comes this story on the isolation, repression, and abuse of youth in the country’s closed treatment facilities: 

“Young people in a special department of closed youth care live in extreme isolation. On average, they spend over 20 hours a day alone in the Very Intensive Short-term Observation and Stabilization department (ZIKOS). That is according to Jason Bhugwandass, who ended up in youth care as a child from a problem family and now works for other young people as an expert by experience. He was named Amsterdammer of the Year for that reason a few years ago.

Bhugwandass spoke to 51 young people who have been in youth care for a report that he will present on Tuesday. The young people say that employees use punishment to curb their psychiatric complaints. ‘It means that many young people no longer express their emotions and no longer dare to give their opinion.’ Bhugwandass speaks of ‘an extremely repressive climate’ with reports of ‘psychological, physical, and sexual violence’ in which children are ‘belittled, humiliated, verbally abused, or manipulated by group leaders.’

According to Bhugwandass, not a single interviewed youth said the group leaders were able to help. He says that young people are not safe in the ZIKOS wards, that it has not been proven that the wards work and that they should be closed as soon as possible.

ZIKOS departments are intended for children aged 12 to 18 who have both acute psychiatric needs and complex behavioral problems. That makes them a risk to themselves. They could mutilate themselves or attempt suicide. One of the young people Bhugwandass spoke to for the study took her own life last month at the age of 19.”

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