Minor protection or major injustice? – Children's rights and digital preventions directed at youth in the Dutch justice system

Karolina La Fors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most essential place-holder for protecting children's rights internationally. In support of its leading principle: “the best interest of the child” (Art. 3) a growing number of digital technologies are employed in different contexts of life, including contexts of justice and youth care. Therefore, when children enter the juvenile justice system and become objects of proactive, digitalised investigations, CRC rights are even more pivotal. Yet, as academic discourse demonstrates, children's rights are increasingly under pressure within law enforcement (Bruning, 2010; Kilkelly, 2001). This paper sets out to explore a relatively undiscussed topic, namely the digitalised preventative policing practices on children under the United Nations CRC. The discussion by way of illustration centres around an initiative taken in recent years in The Netherlands, ProKid SI 12- (ProKid). Grounded in a public rhetoric where ‘crimes against children’ and ‘crimes committed by children’ are viewed as equally important issues to prevent, the risk profiling system ProKid is employed by the Dutch police as a solution for both. Empirical details about ProKid demonstrate, however, that its preventative profiling routines challenge several CRC principles such as, for instance ‘the child's assumption of a constitutive role in society’, its ‘privacy’ and perhaps most importantly ‘the assumption of innocence of a child until proven guilty’. The use of ProKid frames children as potential perpetrators even when they are registered as victims of violence. In the light of the challenges raised, this paper aims to open up the debate about the risks ProKid and similar initiatives bring along for children, and their families and about the CRC's potential to address these.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdoi:10.1016/j.clsr.2015.07.003
Pages (from-to)651–667
Number of pages17
JournalComputer Law and Security Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2015


  • Children's rights; Risks; Digitalisation; Prevention; Law enforcement


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