The number of young people sent to boarding schools by juvenile judges in Flanders is on the increase, totalling 949 in late 2017, according to official statistics quoted on Friday by De Morgen and Het Laatste Nieuws. The most recent figures available for French-speaking Belgium are from 1 May 2016. They show that 1,176 young people were sent to boarding schools on the 1st of May 2016.
Since 2010, the number of children and teenagers sent to such schools by juvenile judges has increased by a sixth. In 2017, they made up about 10% of all children and young people committed to institutions by the justice authorities in Flanders. In specialized education, the proportion is as high as 25%. These are mostly children in worrying situations, faced mainly with drug problems, family issues and mental disorders.
In the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, the 1,176 young people in boarding schools in May 2016 represented 9.9% of the total caseload of institutionalised minors, down from 10.10% the year before (1,300 children on 1 May 2015).
Juvenile judges can opt to commit minors to boarding schools when they do not need “very close” care, such as psychological care, according to the Office of the Minister in charge of Aid to the Youth and Houses of Justice, Rachid Madrane.
Young people are placed in boarding schools because of a shortage of space in the usual institutions tasked with accommodating then. This could prove appropriate for giving them a clear structure and a daily routine, juvenile judge Tine Suykerbuyk said in the two Flemish dailies.
Teachers’ networks warn, however, that educators now face heavier workloads in boarding schools.