Child abuse & neglect

The facts - Meeting the experts

Two-day conference in Leuven

Thursday 23 mei &
Friday 24 mei 2024

4th international congress organized by the Vertrouwenscentrum Kindermishandeling Vlaams-Brabant in close cooperation with the Vlaams Expertisecentrum Kindermishandeling

"Child abuse remains one of the most hidden and underestimated problems in our society. What do we know about child abuse in the year 2024?"

‘It shouldn’t hurt to be a child’, is how Dr Henry Kempen brought the Battered Child Syndrome to our attention in 1961.

Since then, awareness of the phenomenon of child abuse and neglect has increased rapidly. We know the neurobiological, psychological and social consequences of child abuse. And yet, child abuse remains an under-reported health problem.

That is why we feel it is necessary to share new knowledge and expertise with those who make a daily commitment to tackling child abuse. Because knowledge about child abuse helps to detect, stop and prevent it.


In 2004, the Confidential Center for Child Abuse & Neglect (Vertrouwenscentrum Kindermishandeling, VK) organized its first conference ‘Child Abuse and Neglect: The facts’ to make a scientific state of the art in knowledge and good practices in tackling child abuse.

20 years later, not only do we look back at a successful first edition of this conference and the groundbreaking expertise shared then. We also look ahead and share new insights that will shape the field around child abuse in the coming years.

During the two-day conference, we invite speakers from home and abroad to share their expertise in research and practice. We also bring forward the current generation of victims and survivors, as their voices carry hope and resilience.

We welcome

We highlight

REWIND – an Emmy-nominated autobiography directed by Sasha Joseph Neulinger who reveals his story of sexual abuse.

The Golem – the wooden artfigure who silently cared for children from atop the roof of the VK for years is getting a renovation for his 20th birthday.

Practical information

For who: Professionals working in welfare, health care, mental health care, childcare, education, justice, youth work, … . In short, all the places children and minors can go.

When: May 23 and 24 in 2024

Where: Provinciehuis Vlaams-Brabant – Provincieplein 1 – 3010 Leuven

Registration fee: Participation two-day conference: € 280* / €300

* Early birds: Registration and payment received before January 29 2024.
Participation evening program on Thursday May 23: € 50

Our Guests


is an expert in the fields of youth welfare, violence in dependency relationships and mental health care. She graduated within the field of Andragogy and obtained her PhD on the topic of women’s support in psychiatry.

Dr. Steketee is chairman of the board of the Verwey-Jonker Institute and a professor at the University of Rotterdam. As a professor, she focuses on the intergenerational transmission of violence in families. Specializing in children in child protection, multi-problem families, child abuse and domestic violence, she is committed to breaking the cycle of violence within families.


is a clinical and forensic psychologist with specialties in childhood trauma, resilience, and relationships.

Dr. Griffin is a nationally recognized expert in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). She is Executive Director of Lifeline for Kids, a training center to train professionals in trauma, trauma-informed care, and trauma sensitive practices.

Dr. Griffin is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and highly sought-after public speaker. She is a co-author of a book by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Childhood Trauma and Resilience, A Practical Guide, a go-to resource on childhood trauma for pediatrics.


is a Child Psychiatrist worldwide known for his extensive research on the neurobiological damage caused by child maltreatment. He is the director of The Neurosequential Network where he developed a neurobiologically-informed approach, better known as the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT).

Dr. Perry is active as a professor, researcher and clinician in the field of mental health and neuroscience. He serves as professor in Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health, College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria Australia.


has years of experience in social service delivery system research in the area of Child Welfare and Mental Health Services for children. His research is specialized in assessing, analyzing, and teaching on decision making in human services delivery systems.

He is also known for his innovative and informative research and evaluation work in the areas of child maltreatment prevalence, child welfare administrative data analysis, workload and costing, and performance and outcome measurement for children and family services.

He is director and professor of the Systems Research and Evaluation department at the Kempe Centre and co-chair of the Working Group on Child Maltreatment Data Collection for ISPCAN.


is an expert in the field of trauma informed practices, vicarious trauma, trauma-informed multidisciplinary teams and sexual exploitation of children.

Dr. Wozniak is the Director of the Child Advocacy Training and Support Center, a national training and consultation center for Children’s Advocacy Centers. She is clinical psychologist and researcher at Baystate Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

She oversaw the development of the One Mission Project which provides coordinated services to child trafficking victims. She is also a leader of the Hampden County Coalition to Identify and Prevent the Sexual Exploitation of Children. Dr. Wozniak is a nationally recognized trainer in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).


is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with expertise as a Family Therapist who works as the medical staff at UPC KU Leuven. As the Child Psychiatrist of the YUNECO Caro team, she makes intersectoral support linking mental health and youth welfare happen.

She supervises outreaching teams providing consultation, diagnostics and/or treatment for adolescents in residential care. Since 2020 she works as a Confidential Doctor at the Confidential Centre for Child Abuse & Neglect Vlaams-Brabant (VK)


is an expert in the field of psychotrauma. As a senior researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Utrecht University, she coordinates research on the effects of individual traumatization on family relationships. She was promoted in 2022 through her research on the impact of psychotrauma on family relationships where she conducts pioneering research on the importance of integrating systemic therapy into trauma work.

Dr. Mooren works as a clinical psychologist at ARQ center ’45, a center of expertise for diagnostics and treatment of complex trauma symptoms. She is trained within Family Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and EMDR.
Dr Mooren is the lead trainer at ‘RINOgroup’ in clinical psychology for adults and the elderly in the Netherlands.


received her PhD in biomedical sciences in 2018 through her research on genetic and epigenetic aspects of depression. She investigates how nature and nurture interact and act as a protective or harmful influence for (psychiatric) disorders. 

Dr. Van Assche shows that vulnerability to depressive symptoms in adolescence and susceptibility to protective or harmful influences of ‘parenting’ can indeed be affected by gene-environment interactions and DNA methylation.

Dr. Van Assche graduated as a medical doctor at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in 2013 and completed her training in France and Germany. She is a postgraduate in human genetics and is pursuing a master’s degree within affective neuroscience.


is a husband, father, hockey player, backcountry adventurer, motivational speaker, and an Emmy Nominated filmmaker. He also happens to be a survivor of multi-generational child sexual abuse. He knew that in order to truly move forward with his life, he’d have to revisit his past, search for the source of his cognitive disconnect, and confront his demons head on Re-watching his childhood provided Sasha some validation, a reminder that he had nothing to do with what his abusers chose to do to him—but that he had everything to do with the strength and resilience it required to hold his abusers accountable.

Sasha decided to direct REWIND, an autobiographical documentary following his journey to confront, unpack and understand the multi-generational child sexual abuse that haunted him and his family.

“I did not choose my trauma, nor have I chosen to be defined by it. But I did choose how I responded to it: how it would contribute to the shaping of who I am today.”

Sasha is the Founder and President of Voice For The Kids, and Co-Founder and Head of Production at Step 1 Films. In 2015, Sasha presented at TEDxBozeman with his first public speech, “Trauma Is Irreversible. How It Shapes Us Is Our Choice.”

Since his TED Talk, Sasha has presented over 100 keynote speeches around the world, helping raise over $8 Million for the fight against child abuse. Sasha made his directorial debut at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival with his autobiographical, feature length documentary, REWIND.

REWIND had its US Television Premiere on May 11, 2020 as a part of PBS’ Independent Lens lineup, and has since been streaming for audiences both nationally and
internationally. REWIND was nominated for a 2020 Critics Choice Award for Best First Feature Documentary and received three Emmy Nominations in 2021, including Outstanding Social Issue Documentary, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Editing.


is a British Criminologist and subject matter expert in relation to the behaviour of adults who sexually abuse children and men who abduct and murder children. He is a
former senior detective and Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) who specialized in the investigation of major crime. His work focuses on how research can inform and enhance investigative and child protection practice.

Dr Hill holds a PhD in Criminology and Applied Social Science and a PGC in Forensic Behavioural Psychology

Rewind van Sasha Joseph Neulinger


is a paediatrician specializing in fetal medicine and paediatric pulmonology. As a researcher within the Molecular Virology and Gene Therapy research unit at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) he obtained his PhD in biomedical sciences.

Dr Toelen works as a professor of paediatrics within the University Hospital KU Leuven. Since 2020 he has worked as a Confidential Doctor at the Confidential Centre for Child Abuse & Neglect Vlaams-Brabant (VK).

Address & GPS

The county hall (Provinciehuis) is accessible. Anyone can enter the building, including wheelchair users, people with prams, the visually impaired, larger persons, people with a limb in plaster, etc.

Address: Provinciehuis Vlaams-Brabant – Provincieplein 1 – 3010 Leuven

GPS: enter “Tiensevest” as street name. Do not enter “Provincieplein 1”.

Latitude: 50.8776741027832 – Longitude: 4.716243267059326

For more information on the County Hall

For more information on mobility and transport in Leuven

Stadsplan Leuven
Stratenplan Leuven - Provinciehuis

WANT TO KNOW MORE on the Confidential Center for Child Abuse & Neglect and the Flemish Expertise Center on Child Abuse & Neglect:


If you have questions about the conference, the program, practicalities of others, you can contact the Confidential Center for Child Abuse & Neglect Vlaams-Brabant:

Vertrouwenscentrum Kindermishandeling Vlaams-Brabant
Justus Lipsiusstraat 71
3000 Leuven


IBAN: BE66 4312 0200 0143

Company number:  0435.244.839


Kristof Desair Director VK Vlaams-Brabant
Anke Dillen Congresscoordinator –  Social Pedagogical Worker


Jaan Toelen Pediatrician
Helene Van Assche Child Psychiatrist
Annelore Abts – Criminologist p.p
Elien Admassu – Criminologist p.p
Naéla Coolsaet –  Nurse
Sara Diels – Clinical Psychologist
Astrid Du Four – Social worker
Carla Ivens – Social Pedagogical Worker
Astrid Lauwereins – Clinical psychologist
Kristof Lisson – Psychiatric nurse
Sofie Snoeck – Clinical psychologist
Agnésia Vaes – Social Pedagogical Worker
Bart Vanbeckevoort – Social Pedagogical Worker
Isa Vanderborght – Social Pedagogical Worker
Ellen Vanderelst – Anthropologist
Sofie Vanderlinden – Clinical psychologist
Patsy Verhaert – Social worker

In close collaboration withTim Stroobants – Vlaams Expertisecentrum Kindermishandeling.
And with administrative support from Anne Crabbé, Aïra Frère, Monique Lemmens en Iris Roelens.

An initiative of the
Vlaamse Vertrouwenscentra Kindermishandeling

In collaboration with the
Vlaams Expertisecentrum Kindermishandeling