children end up in the hospital due to abuse much more often than assumed

children end up in the hospital due to abuse much more often than assumed

Image Getty Images / iStockphoto

Medical pediatric surgery Marie-Louise Loos, together with a team of experts, dived into the archives of seriously injured children, who were taken to all eleven trauma centers in the Netherlands between 2010 and 2015. It turns out that abuse and neglect are missed much more often. in the hospitals than one thought. Of the 342 children under the age of 5, 41 percent of the cases involved child abuse. Ten percent of these involved physical violence and 31 percent of the cases involved neglect, such as inattention or an unsafe environment. For the entire group of children up to the age of 18, it is 11 percent, it turns out after 1,623 files have been searched.

“We are shocked by the result,” said Loos, who received his doctorate in research at UvA on April 28. “A very large proportion of children’s hospitalizations can therefore be prevented.” An impressive thought, says Loos, for victims of child abuse, burns or near drowning may suffer from this in a lifetime – physically and mentally.

Loos’ supervisor and specially appointed professor of forensic pediatric radiology, Rick van Rijn, was also shocked. He has been in the industry for twenty years, works for the National Expert Center for Child Abuse (LECK), and has seen a lot, but he did not expect these high numbers either. “If we doctors do not define and register child abuse more sharply, we will not see the seriousness. And then you can not take the right measures either. Although it’s important that we tell the parents: do not leave your toddler in the bath alone if you want to pick up the phone. It’s in one split second happened. ”


In the figures, such drowning also falls under child abuse, namely under the denominator ‘neglect’. It sounds very heavy, especially for the parents it has happened to, but in law it is the term that can stand for dramatic accidents where a parent is briefly distracted and a small child drowns in a ditch.

Van Rijn believes that many parents greatly overestimate their offspring ‘knowledge and skills’. “But it’s so sad when you lose sight of your child for a while and he falls into the ditch and he’s dead. And then parents say: my fourteen month old baby does not. Really. My fourteen-month-old baby was also lying in a pond at a time when we had not been paying attention for two seconds, but luckily we heard a splash. ”

The numbers are tough: (almost) drowning of children can more often be prevented by a safer environment or better supervision than not. Force majeure occurred in only 2 percent of the 171 children who drowned or nearly drowned. “For example, when a teenager is swept into the ocean by a very strong current,” Loos says.

Business park and patio

In addition to the danger of drowning, two other situations stood out where children are at risk: At a business park or on a farm. Van Rijn: “Because a child can be hit by a vehicle or kicked by an animal.” And then there are many children who have fallen from a window or from a balustrade from great heights – 76 of the 1623.

In a sub-study, Loos zoomed in on 175 deaths between 2014 and 2019 of children admitted to trauma centers. As it turned out: Under 5 years old, as many as 44 percent died of child abuse and neglect. Across the entire group up to the age of 18, 20 percent died of child abuse, half of physical violence and half of neglect. Of these, 78 percent died from drowning. “It is almost always very young children who have been left alone for a short time near water.”