Fathers and mothers should better correct and limit their stray children, VVD believes. Parents who refuse to do so can expect sanctions. ‘You prevent crime at the kitchen table.’
“Where are the parents?” According to the coalition party VVD, this question, which is asked again after every riot or fight, must be answered quickly. Because it is not the government, but the parents, who are responsible for their children’s education, that shows a policy plan that Member of Parliament Ruud Verkuijlen presented on Friday. “That responsibility also applies to the behavior your children show on the street.”
It is worrying, says Verkuijlen, that teenagers are showing criminal behavior at an ever earlier age. This year, twelve young people aged thirteen have already been arrested for violent robberies, reported The telegraph recently – a doubling compared to 2021. Parents are sometimes barely or not at all aware of the risks their children run, he says.
Such parents, he says, need help and support. “If your son or daughter suddenly has two phones, brings expensive things or comes home way too late, you already know something is wrong,” he sums up. “You have to pay close attention to such signals. Because before you know it, your child will be caught in the trap of organized crime.”
“How did you get that coat?”
According to the VVD member, fathers and mothers are currently the missing link in the prevention of youth crime. The focus is mainly on enforcers and the young people themselves, notes Verkuijlen. It must be changed. “Many schools have an educational triangle: Teacher, student and parents are jointly responsible. But if you look at how it’s happening on the street, you see that parents have sometimes completely disappeared from the picture. They have to get involved again.”
For that, it is necessary that there are significantly more neighborhood police officers and youth residents who know the neighborhood well, says Verkuijlen, who has worked for the police for years. They need to approach young people who are exhibiting risky behavior around this and then confront the parents about that behavior. “You see someone walking around with overpriced things and ask, ‘Do your parents know you have such an expensive coat?’ You should also ask the parents themselves this question. That way you ensure that fathers and mothers resume their roles.”
The proposal from VVD is striking. Traditionally, the Liberals focus mainly on crown jewels such as fighting crime and ‘more blue on the streets’. It is also agreed in the coalition agreement that there must be significantly more local police officers, although that number will only increase gradually.
In recent cabinets, less attention has been paid to prevention through education. Also previous initiatives for safe neighborhoods could not always count on VVD’s approval. For example, it was VVD minister Stef Blok who put an end to minister Ella Vogelaar’s (PvdA) ‘district approach’ in 2014. In retrospect, experts assessed this approach positively – according to them, the government had pulled the plug too early.
In addition, the current lack of neighborhood police officers is, among other things, a result of significant cuts to the police in the second Rutte cabinet. Is the VVD now solving problems that were caused under its own rule? It is ‘too easy’, says Verkuijlen. “But”, he admits, “prevention is an angle that is now given more importance. We really need to keep young people out of crime, and parents are indispensable for that.”
Fine for refusal parents
Sometimes it is simply not possible to get your children on the right path, the VVD politician realizes. He therefore argues for ‘a little more patience’ if one of the parents (or the child) has a mild developmental disability.
But if parents who are able to cooperate still refuse to do so, according to Verkuijlen, sanctions must follow. For example, a mayor can impose a ‘compulsory fine order’, a fine for repeated offences. In addition, VVD wants parents from now on to be responsible for injuries caused by children up to seventeen years of age – that limit is now sixteen. And in some cases fathers and mothers should be forced to take a parenting course, says Verkuijlen. “You prevent crime at the kitchen table.”
It can be painful, the Hilversum VVD member admits, to be confronted with bad behavior from his children. In fact, he has personal experience with it. “If minor children in our municipality are caught with alcohol at night, the parents must come to the police station to collect them. I also had to pick up my children once. I thought, damn, this is just happening on my watch. It is important that parents correct and limit in such cases.”
1 percent of neighborhoods account for a quarter of youth crime
Although juvenile crime has been declining for years, it remains a persistent problem in a number of neighborhoods.