The level-headed approach on errors and mistakes in Dutch child protection: an individual duty or a shared responsibility?

Kirti Zeijlmans, Tom Yperen, van, Monica Lopez Lopez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The leading discourse on errors and mistakes is focused on those cases that resulted in fatal injuries, the cases that shock the nation, spark a debate and inspire change. In the early 2000’s, the Netherlands witnessed several of these critical incidents. These cases made national headlines and had far-reaching consequences on the Dutch child protection system. The most profound debate was sparked by the death of 3-year old Savanna. In Dutch history, this case was the first in which an individual employee of a child protection agency was prosecuted for manslaughter due to negligence. Initiatives have been introduced aimed at improving timely detection of children at risk, such as the Family Coach, the Reference Index for High-Risk Youngsters (in Dutch: ‘Verwijsindex Risicojongeren’), the assessment procedures LIRIK and ORBA, and initiatives to improve family guardianship. However, the core problems in these critical cases continue to be identified, such as the collaboration between professionals, the information exchange between organizations and the detection of child abuse in complex cases. Overall, the general pattern seems to be that the blame for any critical incident is not tied to one professional. Preventing errors and mistakes in child protection is seen in the Netherlands as an individual duty but a shared responsibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationErrors and Mistakes in Child Protection International
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Discourses, Approaches and Strategies
EditorsKay Biesel, Judith Masson, Nigel Parton, Tarja Pösö
PublisherThe Policy Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781447350941
ISBN (Print)9781447350705
Publication statusPublished - 11-Mar-2020

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