Helping cities make informed decisions on child abuse

Published December 12, 2015

For authorities to tackle child abuse effectively, they first need to know the extent of the problem and how well the existing approaches are working. The Foundation supported the Netherlands Youth Institute (NJI) to create the Child Abuse Monitor, an online tool that helps municipalities in the Netherlands to protect more children from being abused.

Decentralisation and the need for data

Responsibility for reporting and preventing child abuse and caring for its victims was devolved to municipal governments in the Netherlands in 2015. However, information on child abuse reports was collected nationally, meaning there was no easy way for Dutch municipal officials to access up-to-date statistics on child abuse reports at municipal level.

In anticipation of the decentralisation, the Foundation supported the Netherlands Youth Institute to work with 21 municipalities in 2012 to find out what kind of data would be helpful to them, not only to understand the situation but to inform policy changes.

Enabling conversations on what works

The Child Abuse Monitor was demonstrated to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports and the national Children’s Ombudsman in 2012. At the time the Children’s Ombudsman was planning a major investigation into the municipal approach to child abuse and neglect in the Netherlands, which also became a data gathering exercise to refine the development of the monitor.

The improved Child Abuse Monitor went live in 2014 – an online tool providing statistics and insights into the effectiveness of municipal policies and programmes. Municipalities are scored and compared to others, enabling municipal policy makers to interact with their peers and share knowledge about what policies, programmes and projects have proven to be most effective.

Growing uptake and expanding scope

The monitor is actively used by around 200 of the country’s 403 municipalities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

The Foundation is now supporting the Netherlands Youth Institute to include statistics, policy indicators and programs related to domestic violence, with the support of the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. The tool will begin to cover domestic violence in 2016.