The number of mentally-vulnerable teens placed in secure institutions together with youngsters convicted of crimes more than tripled in Denmark from 34 in 2010 to 114 in 2015, according to figures from Danske Regioner.
Teenagers with serious drug addictions, mental illnesses or self-harm tendencies are increasingly being placed in one of Denmark’s eight secure institutions for criminal children and youth, because other public institutions cannot handle them.
According to Ann-Karina Henriksen, a postdoc researcher at Aalborg University, the vulnerable youth are placed in the secure institutions even though they have not committed any crime and do not receive the right treatment there.
“The staff are hired to take care of criminals, and it shows in their rehabilitation approach, activities and the decor of the wards,” Henriksen told Information.
Anne Marie Christensen, the head of the association for child and adolescent psychiatry, has called the situation “appalling”.
Many of the kids and teenagers were sent to the secure institutions because they posed a danger to themselves or others.
According to Danske Regioner, there were a total of 475 boys and 52 girls in the institutions in 2015, and every sixth had a non-Danish background.