The broadcast combined with several (Dutch) articles in newspapers and investigative journalistic platforms lead to many questions about the way CPS concocted evidence against parents, about the accuracy of the current statistics on cases of child abuse, about the impartiality of the CPS doctors and about the perverse financial incentives behind the whole system of Youth Care in the Netherlands.
This article is mostly based on the BVIKZ interview and is written in such a way that it is also valuable for readers outside of the Netherlands - both parents and professionals trying to make a difference. It is relatively long (reading time: 15 minutes), which was however needed to address this complex and sensitive topic in a balanced way. You can watch the broadcast below, subtitled in English.
“Feast” of recognition
Until the early hours of the morning after the broadcast parents called the BVIKZ to share their own experiences. Their reactions were unanimous: it had been a “feast” of recognition. These parents told how they thought they had been the only ones to whom this had happened, that they were ashamed to tell their story and that they feared social rejection, if they dared to make it public.
The Monday after the broadcast BVIKZ chairman Vera Hooglugt went to the Ministry of Health (VWS) with 200 files. The management called these “just incidents, which they were not inclined to investigate or change their policies for”.
Tanno Klijn, the chairman of the Board of Youth Care organization Veilig Thuis [VT; which means ‘Safe Home’] claimed in the broadcast that they were still in conversation with the BVIZK. He had restricted actually them to hand in only three files, according to BVIKZ Vera Hooglugt, and had no intention to continu the interaction.
The diagnosis of the child
Our main question when we first interviewed de BVIKZ, nine months ago, was how parents of children with persistent or chronic Lyme Disease were treated by CPS. In February 2017 the BVIKZ initialised the prior EenVandaag broadcast about Lyme. The remark by Confidence Doctor Worm in the recent broadcast about “children in wheelchairs, who are put in bed three times a day and who need special education, but who can go to normal schools on their bikes after VT intervenes”, seems to point to children with a controversial illness such as chronic Lyme or ME.
However, the disturbing picture that this second broadcasts paints is that it seems completely irrelevant what the child suffers from or what diagnosis was given to the health issues. The ‘fanatical way’, as lawyer Osinga described it, in which the Confidence Doctors of VT try to prove that parents are hurting their own children, seems to have nothing to with the actual problems.
This impression is confirmed by Hooglugt. They now have files of children with Lyme, ME, EDS (a painful disease in the connective tissues), unexplained fevers or severe pain, encephalitis, but also of children who cannot poo, who don’t grow for a while due to dairy allergy or who have some scratches after slipping in a swimming pool. Even dentists start to report parents, when their children have teeth problems (‘caries’).
When the BVIKZ tried to get information at one of the local VT departments, it proved to be impossible to trace in how many cases a specific illness such as Lyme is involved. Everything is labeled as ‘child abuse’.
Furthermore, the reach of VT goes further than health issues alone. Even when a school disputes the preference of parents for a certain type of education, they report them for ‘suspected child abuse’ without any threshold. The parents are now investigated, based on the accusation that they ‘withhold social development’ to their child. VT seems to assume it can operate outside of the law.
As many parents from other countries mailed to the On Lyme Foundation, this does not only happen in the Netherlands. In the UK, the BBC reported that at least 5,000 parents are also suspected of child abuse, while in a childrens hospital in New York, a paralysed girl was ordered to be thrown on a concrete floor to ‘exclude she was not faking her symptoms’.
At the time of our first interview the BVIKZ had a total of 168 flies, which were fully assembled and analyzed. Now they have hundreds of them. It takes almost takes a full working week to complete and analyze one single file. Together with the lawyers they work towards solutions.
In all of these cases the parents are indeed falsely accused. This implies that VT has a rather sloppy way of working. BVIKZ: “the interest of the child is of no concern. This is about a tough battle between the so-called professionals of VT and the Council on the one hand and the parents and children on the other. Facts and circumstances that could prove their innocence, are simply pushed aside. This is how VT and the Council reason towards their own conclusions.”
Role of parents repressed
Hundreds of parents are now encountering the same problems. Their sovereignty is severely threatened. Dutch emeritus professor Child Care Hugo Heymans stated that “in the end, parents are best able to read their children”. The BVIKZ fully agrees: “We see too often how the knowledge of parents about their own children is discarded as ‘annoying’. When a professional has another opinion, the parents are reported on to VT”.
The pattern is similar in all cases. At the first sign of disagreement or even having one’s own opinion on the matter, first there is a discussion, followed by a conflict and ending in the parents being reported. “We know and we decide”, seems to be the credo of VT. These parents are forced to cooperate towards their own conviction. As Tibbe’s father said in the broadcast, they have to prove that they are innocent.
So what is done to the children that are actually abused? There are increasing signals that VT does not act in case of real problems, due to an overload of suggestive claims of child abuse and investigations into PCF (Paediatric Condition Falsification): a condition of the child, of which an external cause is excluded.
Now the VT doctors, who just went through basic medical training, are simply overruling the treatments of qualified and sometimes even renowned specialists. They force children to stop their medication. In some cases, this has led to a documented decrease in health. In nearly all files, the ‘suspicions of Munchausen by Proxy’ (MbP) and so automatically ‘PCF’ play a major role.
There is certainly a gender bias, because it is always the mother that is being accused. Especially when doctors cannot find a conclusive diagnosis, they will start blaming the mothers of suspected child abuse or report them immediately. You can read more about this gender bias in part 2 of this article.
‘Truth’ finding is what is normal in Criminal law. An accusation should be based on finding actual proof, based on verifiable facts. VT has however acknowledged to the media before that they are not concerned with this. The minister of Justice wrote in 2016 that all organizations in the chain of Youth Care are obliged to do this, but he did not explicitly mention VT. VT is the first link in the whole chain and all other organizations base their actions on their files.
If these files do not distinguish between objective facts or circumstances and suggestive or subjective ‘suspicions’, the whole chain is biased and acting on incorrect information. For example, there is no filter in the system to separate well-founded reasons to report from dubious motives such a retaliation or bullying.
Truth finding is irrelevant in the present culture of VT. This is characterised by force, hierarchy, suppression of parents and solving all conflicts at the expense of the children.
National advertisement campaigns and special trainings for doctors, teachers and every other professional interested call upon the whole country to ‘report child abuse’. This is what Hooglugt called a ‘reporting frenzy’ in the broadcast. The essential question of what is actually worth reporting is not asked at all. Any gut feeling is enough to start a full investigation into a family.
People don’t seem to realize how a (false) accusation affects families. What arises is that now the cure is worse than the disease. This way of intervening is damaging the social security of both parents and children.
Could this increase of reports of MBP simply be explained by a Ph.D study of one of the VT Confidence doctors, as was mentioned by her in the broadcast? Retired professor Child Care Pieter Sauer commented that he only came across this rare psychiatric disorder 3 or 4 times during his forty year career.
Also according to the American psychiatrist Robert Bransfield, author of multiple scientific articles who has treated and testified in such cases, it is a rare disorder, for which proof of admitting a toxin is needed. He encountered one actual case of MbP during his forty year career.
To be continued
Does VT attribute to social cohesion and safety in such way? Are their Confidence doctors acting on trust or rather distrust? And what does this mean? Read more in part 2 of this article, called 'Trust or distrust?'
Interviewer / author: Huib Kraaijeveld
- first interview BVIKZ about Lyme
- On Lyme interview with lawyer Korver
- 'The mysterious statistical bias of Dutch Child Protection Services' & Follow the Worms by Huib Kraaijeveld
- 'Munchausen's syndrome by proxy and Lyme disease: medical misogyny or diagnostic mystery?' by Virginia Sherr
- 'Munchausen unusual suspects' by Pamela Weintraub
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