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Research report 'Children, children’s rights and criminal proceedings' presented

17 November 2011

Adolescents appearing in court often have little idea of legal procedures and limited understanding of what is being discussed during proceedings. They are insufficiently acquainted with their legal rights and often feel that the juvenile court judge has not received a proper impression of them. These are some of the findings from research conducted at the Department of Orthopedagogy of the University of Groningen, funded by Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland – the Dutch Children’s Welfare Stamps Foundation.

The research report ‘Kinderen, kinderrechten en de strafrechtelijke procedure’ (Children, children’s rights and criminal proceedings) will be presented on Thursday 17 November to the Children’s Ombudsman during the symposium entitled ‘De Internationale Rechten van het Kind in geslotenheid’ (The International Rights of the Incarcerated Child). The symposium is being held in the Euroborg in Groningen to mark the 50th anniversary of young offenders’ institution Het Poortje Jeugdinrichtingen. Queen Beatrix will be attending the morning session.

Members of the youth council at Het Poortje Jeugdinrichtingen participated in the research. They were asked about their experiences before, during and after the proceedings and requested to suggest matters for improvement in the legal procedure.

Poorly informed

It turned out that they were poorly informed beforehand about when decisions were being taken in the legal process before the proceedings. They also had no idea what would be discussed during the proceedings, nor were they aware what type of punishment or measure might be taken. The language used during the proceedings is too complicated, and because it takes too long, adolescents with difficulties concentrating often miss out on much of what is being dealt with. They feel that they receive too little opportunity to present their version of events. They also indicated that there was often a lack of agreement among the professionals they encountered, leading to conflicting advice. Although most viewed their lawyer as supportive and as a confidential advisor, quite a few of the lawyers dealing with juvenile cases do not take their work seriously. Some young offenders met their counsel for the first time in court.

Straightforward explanation

Young offenders prefer to know what they’re up against. They would rather have a straightforward explanation of how seriously their offence will be treated than hear that it’s no big deal. They also indicated that they would like to have a single supervisor or ‘buddy’, who would guide them through the whole procedure.

Questionnaire investigated

In addition to the research into the adolescents’ experiences, the validation of the ‘Belang van het Kind en voorwaarden voor ontwikkeling’ (Interests of the child and conditions for development) questionnaire – or BIC-Q for short – was investigated, as well as how the BIC-Q could be used in the decision-making process in civil and criminal procedures. The BIC-Q is based on the core articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 3, 6 and 12. Professionals can use it to establish the quality of the child-rearing environment and to judge which decision would be in the child’s best interests. The questionnaire has already been used in immigration law proceedings.

The first findings in juvenile criminal and civil proceedings have shown that the quality of the child-rearing environment prior to their being incarcerated was often very poor.

Adolescents from Het Poortje helped to create a digital Self-Report youth version of BIC-Q intended to be used in preparation for proceedings. It will be further evaluated in coming years as to its applicability in practice.

Research report

The research report can be downloaded in PDF format from the website of the University of Groningen Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences ( orthopedagogiek ) and from the Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland website (,275,0,0,0/ ).

Note for the press

For more information please contact Dr Margrite Kalverboer LLM (project leader) or Mijntje ten Brummelaar MSc. (researcher):

Dr M.E. Kalverboer LLM, M.E.Kalverboer, (050)363 65 71

M.D.C. ten Brummelaar MSc., M.D.C.ten.Brummelaar, (050)363 65 41

Contact person at Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland:

Ms A. Kanis, head of Projects and Programmes, a.kanis , (071)525 98 62


Communication Office / P.O. Box 72, 9700 AB Groningen / +31 (0)50 363 44 44 / communicatie /

Last modified:24 August 2021 09.23 a.m.
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