With ‘Teenagers behind bars’, OM wants to keep young people out of the criminal circuit

The Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) has had a book made with true stories about young people who have come into contact with justice. It was written by the crime journalists Maarten van Dun and Paul Vugts and is intended for students in senior secondary vocational education (havo), pre-university education (vwo) and secondary vocational education (mbo). “The book gives a realistic picture of what a criminal life looks like and shows that this is no fun”, says the OM.

Teenagers Behind Bars contains adaptations of articles that Van Dun and Vugts wrote for Het Parool in recent years. The stories are all set in Amsterdam. They are about youth gangs, street violence, extortion, pickpocketing and contract killings. The criminal organization of Ridouan Taghi is also featured.

The stories show that crime careers start early. They should get readers thinking and talking. “That would be nice”, the authors write. “Why do you become a young criminal? How do you get into crime? What do the police, prosecutors and judges do to get young criminals back on track and keep the world fair?”

The book has been discussed with teachers of social studies. They have indicated that they can make good use of it in their lessons. The illustrations are by Aloys Oosterwijk. The stories and drawings can also be found on the internet.