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Insights Insights
| 1 minute read

Netherlands Study Indicates Increased Emotional Neglect During School Lockdowns

A study from the Netherlands indicates that children suffered more emotional neglect than usual during the months of school lockdown in that country. Other maltreatment showed no increase. The study has some limitations, relying on voluntary reports from school personnel about their assessment of students in their care. Nevertheless, it offers another data point about the unintended consequences of closing schools.

Schools in the Netherlands were closed for only 3 months, giving a short time frame for reseachers to study. The researchers sent short surveys to 630 schools, asking the personnel to participate in online surveys. A total of 444 participated. They were asked to identify whether, after schools reopened, they had suspicions that any of their students had suffered maltreatment. The teachers identified suspicions for 59 out of 2254 children that they taught. The researchers then extrapolated those figures to the Netherlands as a whole, and compared the results to a 3-month period prior to the lockdowns.

The study found no significant increase in most forms of maltreatment. However, teachers reported a striking increase in emotional maltreatment, specifically emotional neglect, educational neglect, and witnessing domestic violence. The study did not delve into the case of the increase, but researchers theorize that added stress on the families, unemployment, and constant close quarters could play a role.

This study indicates that even a relatively short school lockdown can have a significant negative effect on children. It offers added evidence that every expert recommendation has unintended consequences and that one-size-fits-all policies can fall most heavily on the most vulnerable citizens.

The prevalence of emotional neglect was found to be three times higher during the lockdown compared to a period without lockdown. . . . Most of the reported cases of maltreatment were already problematic before the lockdown and became worse during the lockdown. The results of this study indicate that the closure of schools and childcare settings may have enormous negative consequences for vulnerable children.


youth services law, coronavirus, ausburn_deborah, insights