CAD.20.026 – Child behavior through the eye of the beholder: towards reducing child maltreatment by iImproving child safety screening in families referred to child protection services

Route: Child and adolescent development, upbringing and education

Cluster question: 059 How can we help children and adolescents grow up safe and healthy?

Child protection services are yearly confronted with about 100.000 children and families in which child safety and thus healthy development is at risk. Crucial to make an estimation of the need to interfere in the child rearing situation via (threat of) civil law procedures and the treatment following in this trajectory is a valid and reliable estimation of child safety. To date, these estimations are based on actuarial risk assessment at best, combined with file information. None of these methods has proven to be sufficiently reliable or valid yet. The current study proposes to experiment with Virtual Reality screening in addition to risk assessment to better understand the cognitions of parents in families referred to child protection services in order to better understand estimate the risk level and child safety of children. To prevent these issues and identify the most crucial factors, I propose to add neurobiological and Virtual Reality assessments to traditional assessments. The former may expose neurobiological factors and mechanisms underlying the limited responsiveness to treatment; factors that should guide treatment allocation or be targeted in interventions (Reijman, 2015). Virtual reality (VR), in which virtual environments are used to present digitally recreated real world situations to children and parents, provides the opportunity to assess causal factors of maladaptation in situations that possess high ecological validity.


assessment, child protection, Safety, virtual reality

Other organisations

University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Organisation Utrecht University (UU)
Name Prof. dr. J.J. (Jessica) Asscher