May 24, 2015

Some children ‘not white enough’ for school

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:52 pm

The disturbingly casual Dutch terms ‘black schools’ and ‘white schools’ in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam refer to schools with ‘kids that don’t look Dutch’ and ‘kids that look Dutch’ because Dutch is code for Caucasian and everything else gets lumped into ‘black’.

Unfortunately but not surprisingly, ‘black schools’ don’t do as well as ‘white schools’, and smart parents of both groups try to get their kids into ‘white schools’. Many parents will claim to want their kids to go to a ‘mixed school’, but they are only considered good schools when there’s more ‘white’ kids than ‘black’ kids.

Two schools in one neighbourhood decided to challenge this segregation by getting the ‘kids that don’t look Dutch’ to wear T-shirts that say ‘Is this white enough for you?’, so that two ‘mixed schools’ don’t close because more parents are sending their kids to ‘white schools’ in other neighbourhoods. It’s sad that small children are being taught that their skin colour is putting people off, to put it mildly.

Amsterdam is a city that proudly keeps counting how many different nationalities live together in harmony, but when it comes to schools, segregation is commonplace.

(Link:, Photo of wilted tulip by Graham Keen, some rights reserved)

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January 26, 2015

Dutch children in the 1980s sing about being ‘brown’

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 12:57 pm
Children in the Netherlands

The VARA television station has a show called ‘Kinderen voor Kinderen’ (‘Children for Children’) that has been around since 1980 and lets children ask for songs to be written on topics that interest them, ranging from a girl getting her breasts to a boy with Attention Deficit Disorder and everything in between.

According to Wikipedia, the 1984 song ‘Bruin’ (‘Brown’) falls under the category ‘taunting and mobbing’, avoiding using adult words like ‘discrimination’ or even ‘racism’. Would a song like this that claims it’s trying to discourage ‘taunting and mobbing’ of a non-white Dutch boy actually be socially acceptable today? When I first watched it, my jaw dropped probably because there’s no politically correct wording that you’d be strongly encouraged to use today. In the end, the ‘brown’ boy actually sings that maybe white people aren’t so mean after all, implying that stereotypes are a two-way street. The music and choreography are fun to watch.

Here is a taste of the more straight up lyrics:

I would rather be paler
Then I wouldn’t be so insecure
Then I wouldn’t be so sad
And not as mad when they called me names
(White chorus sings) ‘He’s so brown’

(Photo of random children: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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January 24, 2014

Flasher keeps flashing kids, parents and police not doing enough

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 10:14 am

In the village of Lent near Nijmegen a man has been reported flashing schoolchildren goods and all, and making sexual comments when they walk by on their way to school. In Dutch a flasher is a ‘potloodventer’, which literally means ‘pencil salesman’, hence my choice of photo.

Open and shut case you say? Nope. Dutch law apparently says the man needs to be caught in the act if the police are to arrest him and keep him in custody. In the meantime, he gets to keep doing his sick shit to children because the cops can’t do their job and the parents are too lame to be proactive.

So basically one messed up man who needs help is disrupting other people’s lives and nobody is really doing anything about it but complaining. Maybe one of those stay at home moms with free time on their hands could stalk him with a video camera? I mean, it just takes some proof. Why can’t a squad car pick a busy day and catch the man in the act? How tough can it be to catch him, seriously? He’s obviously not dangerous. I would totally do it if I lived nearby.


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December 21, 2013

Traffic signs for the colour blind and other short stories

Filed under: Automobiles,Bicycles,General by Branko Collin @ 1:19 pm

A couple of short stories today.

cars-no-entry-new-2012-branko-collin cars-no-entry-old-branko-collin1. Starting October 2012 transportation infrastructure operators in the Netherlands were allowed to use new traffic signs that have been optimised for colour blind people.

The new signs were given white lines to increase contrast between red and blue elements and to increase contrast of signs with a red border when viewed against a green background, the Dutch government said. Infrastructure operators (‘wegbeheerders’ in Dutch) are free to determine if and when they will replace the old signs. The Netherlands isn’t the first country to introduce road signs for people with deficient vision, I found examples on Flickr of similarly adapted signs in Italy and France.

2. Orangemaster and I attended the opening of the Dutch Rail Lost&Found pop-up store we wrote about earlier. We kind of rushed through it, so I did not get many photos (there is one below), but The Post Online’s photographer spent some more time there.

3. In the 1970s, the Netherlands were rapidly on their way to becoming a car sick country. Mark Wagenbuur has created several videos about how protesters managed to turn this development around. His most recent video explores how school children helped raise awareness for their particular plight in the densely populated Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam.


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November 24, 2013

Artists photograph grandparents the way grandchildren draw them

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 1:20 pm

Two artists from Eindhoven, photographer Nick Bookelaar and designer Yoni Lefévre, teamed up to create Grey Power, a photo series in which grandparents act out scenes thought up by their grandchildren.

The children made drawings of their grandparents going about their daily activities. Props and outfits from the drawings were then transplanted to real life and used for a photographic portrait of the grandparents. Lefévre explains that modern society considers old people to be sidelined, but “children do not regard their grandparents as grey and withered, but as active human beings who add colour to their lives”.

A Petapixel commenter pointed out that Korean photographer Yendoo Jung had a similar project called Wonderland five years ago, although Jung’s intention seems to be almost the opposite of that of the two Dutch artists. Instead of viewing reality from a different perspective his aim seems to be to recreate fantasy worlds.

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October 17, 2013

Kids to learn about alcohol by setting up a booze shack

Filed under: Food & Drink,Weird by Orangemaster @ 12:14 pm

An elementary school in the Achterhoek, a region to the East that extends into Germany, has decided to teach kids in grades 5 and 6 (the oldest kids) the evils of boozing it up in an illegal booze shack (in Dutch, ‘zuipkeet’), which usually attracts underaged drinkers.

However, the school’s plan is to do this by letting the kids set up a drink shack to find out what it is like in order to tell them about group drinking and fire safety. The school claims that the goal is not to show kids how to set up shop, but to teach them how bad drinking is if ever they do set up shop because then they’ll do it safely.

According to the media and public opinion, rural areas apparently have booze shacks, which are at least partially responsible for teenagers learning the fine art of binge drinking. I’ve never seen one, but I’m sure they are more real than unicorns.

Yes, we get that kids should learn about responsible drinking or the effects alcohol has on their growing bodies and all that, but I wonder whether parents will be thrilled about this method.


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September 4, 2013

Swimming for kids: sport or safety measure? Or both?

Filed under: Sports by Orangemaster @ 10:47 am

Swimming organisations in the Netherlands are arguing about which stroke should be taught first to children. The organisation responsible for teaching children, the national swimming pool organisation, is a fan of the breast stroke because it can be sustained for longer and is easier to learn. The national swimming organisation is all for the front crawl and the back stroke and plans to introduce their own swimming certificates for children next year. The national swimming pool organisation is not happy about having some competition.

Why are they at odds? The swimming pool peeps believe in teaching children in the event that they fall into a canal, while the national swimming peeps see swimming as a sport. The chances of a child falling into a body of water and having to swim ashore for a long time are not very likely and so the breast stroke make sense. However, if a child wants to learn how to swim as a real skill, then the front crawl is usually a good primer.

As a well-versed swimmer (my butterfly stroke sucks), I can tell you that besides the strokes, staying afloat by treading water or floating on your back is very important for safety. As a child I also learnt how to give mouth to mouth and rescue someone while in the water, skills that people regularly use when you’re a Canadian on a lake in a canoe in the forest in a pre-mobile phone era, not a small child falling into a canal.

Why can’t these organisations coordinate their efforts? Then kids will learn how to excel at swimming and what to do if they or a friend falls into a canal. Only being able to save yourself doesn’t sound very noble.

(Link:, Photo looking across the nearby Wolderwijd from Harderwijk to Zeewolde, Flevoland, by Sjaak Kempe, some rights reserved)

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August 11, 2013

Open season on sperm donors in the Netherlands

Filed under: Health by Branko Collin @ 1:19 pm

City governments are pressuring single mothers to reveal the name of the fathers of their children, so that they can then force said fathers into paying some sort of alimony, Dutchnews reported last Friday.

Apparently a man from Rotterdam, Eric van Deurzen, was ordered by a court to pay either the city or the mother 486 euro a month. (If I am being vague it’s because my sources are.) Volkskrant quotes two law professors, Paul Vlaardingerbroek and André Nuytinck, as saying that only the mother can bring suit.

Professor Nuytinck told Gelderlander that this also puts certain kinds of sperm donors in a tough situation: “Sperm donors who haven’t gone through a sperm bank may have difficulty proving that they did not conceive the child. For conception [as a legal term--Branko] there needs to have been intercourse.”

Since everybody is being so incredibly vague I had to do my own homework here.

Title 17 of Book 1 of the Dutch Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek) states that “he who conceives a child that only has a mother [...] is obliged to contribute to the cost of rearing and caring for the child until it reaches the age of majority [...].” Although the law does differentiate between a father, a conceiver (verwekker) and a donor, it does not state that there is a difference between a donor and a conceiver when it comes to financial responsibility for raising a child.

Several websites and professor Nuytinck do make that distinction though, which leads me to believe that there must be a separate, more specific law detailing the rights and responsibilities of sperm donors somewhere. Not all the cost of artificial insemination are covered by basic health insurance and in 2010, a lesbian couple was refused treatment by a hospital in Leiden.

The law I quoted above seems to have especially dire consequences for gay couples. The partner who is not the parent only has rights if they’ve gone through official, sometimes homophobic channels and the donor has expressed the wish to remain pseudo-anonymous (in the Netherlands a child always has the right to know its father once it turns 16).

It is still not clear to me why a municipal government would have standing in a case where they ask for the determination of fatherhood.

(Photo by Gniliep, some rights reserved)

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June 10, 2012

Three kids from Utrecht under supervision for being too fat

Filed under: Dutch first,Health by Branko Collin @ 11:42 am

Child protection services has placed three children from the same family in Utrecht, ranging from 6 to 13 years old, under the supervision of a guardian for being dangerously overweight, De Telegraaf writes.

The children weighed 15, 18 and 51 kilograms too much in November 2011. The parents fought the services’ decision in court, but in a decision published in May, an judge in Arnhem found against the parents. The court felt that although it was obvious that the parents cared about their children, they lacked both the drive and the skills to deal with their children’s bad health.

According to, “this is the thought to be the first time children in the Netherlands have been subject to a court order because of their weight”. NRC writes that in the UK, dozens of children have been placed under supervision since 2006 for being obese. Child protection services told the newspaper that they will only place children under supervision “if the parents refuse voluntary help and the problems are such that the development of the child is halted or endangered.”

Supervision means that although the children will generally get to stay with their parents, the supervisor must be consulted for all major decisions regarding the children, and orders given by the supervisor must be followed.

A high profile supervision was the 2009 case of then 13-year-old Laura Dekker who wanted to sail around the world by herself. The intent then was to determine whether Dekker was fit to sail the world by herself, although in hindsight the effect mainly seems to have been to instill a severe dislike for Dutch bureaucracy in the teen sailor.

(Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, some rights reserved)

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January 19, 2012

‘Steep increase of kids in cycling accidents’

Filed under: Bicycles by Orangemaster @ 11:50 am
Pink bike

Children are placed on their parents’ bikes as babies, they learn to cycle to school at a certain age in the Netherlands and grow up to be adults that cycle to university and work. That’s how the Dutch roll.

However, accidents happen with cars, other cyclists, one’s own mistake, ducks crossing the bike path, etc. All parties involved (well, except the ducks) blame each other and it’s part of Dutch life to fall off your bike sometimes, even in a canal. That’s how the Dutch roll.

It’s a free country, so if people (expats usually) really think their kids wearing a helmet is going to help, fine, but most people don’t unless they’re in the Tour de France. That’s how the Dutch roll.

However, it’s one thing to have your kid come home crying and/or ending up in the hospital from a cycling accident, it’s another to realise they were playing a game on their mobile phone or texting their BFF while not looking where they were going. I mean, if mommy and daddy can do that driving to the IKEA on the weekend, they can too, right?

And so there are 35% more cycling accidents according to hospital reports between 2006-2010, with campaigns concentrating on collisions with cars, which is only part of the problem. Blaming cars is easy, but if you know anything about cycling in a bigger city, cyclists are sometimes their own worst enemy.

As a copywriter once put it, “safety is boring”.

I find injured children due to lack of proper parenting even more boring.


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