Home World Lessons from Lügde: How to better protect children from abuse

Lessons from Lügde: How to better protect children from abuse

Years of mass abuse of more than 40 children in a camp site in Lügde (North Rhine-Westphalia) raises the question of why the weakest in society are not better protected.

Child protection organizations should make recommendations in a hearing in the NRW state parliament on 24 June. Three days later (June 27), the trial of three defendants begins in Lügde. The black-and-yellow NRW state government also wants to present a concept for child protection shortly. The so-called Bosbach Commission has also made proposals. The expert recommendations for the hearing are available in writing.

YOUTH NAMED: The landscape associations LWL and LVR complain of a dramatic shortage of skilled workers in the NRW-wide 186 youth welfare offices. The number of cases in which the offices must assess risks or provide assistance have risen by more than 11,000 to nearly 39,500 in the most heavily populated federal state since 2012. Landesfamilienminister Joachim Stamp (FDP) now wants to check "Fallobergrenzen". The associations and Stamp want federal regulations for so-called case handover at youth welfare offices. This is to prevent, as in the case of Lügde, gaps in child protection arising from the responsibility of two youth welfare offices.

CHILD PROTECTION OFFICER: Associations plead for an independent child protection officer. He will not only look at the existing structures, but also become a contact point for "whistleblowers" who give evidence of suspected cases. Once a year he should report to the state parliament. The NRW government is open to this. In their opinion, a commission for the prevention of sexual violence against minors would be conceivable.

CHILD PROTECTION HOTLINE: In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Berlin have such hotlines, according to the child protection associations led to significantly more evidence of child welfare endangerment received.

NETWORKS: Almost in unison, experts call for the formation of cross-professional networks from day-care centers, schools, youth welfare, associations, paediatricians and care centers. Inadequate cooperation between the various agencies poses a risk. In many cases, it is also criticized that the network of counseling centers is too thin, especially in rural areas.

DOCTORS: Paediatricians should be able to communicate better with each other. However, this is made more difficult by confidentiality and data protection. The Bosbach Commission is calling for a regulation that legally enables an internal exchange. For possible perpetrators often changed the pediatrician to disguise attacks.

INTERNET: As before, reports on child pornography come mainly from the USA. According to Deutscher Kinderhilfe, Internet service providers in Germany, as in the US, should be required to report suspected cases.

PENALTY: According to Deutscher Kinderhilfe, the minimum punishment for simple sexual abuse of children is currently too low at six months, and at one year for burglary. Even the interior ministers of the countries react. They want to punish the distribution, acquisition and possession of child pornography in the future harder. The maximum fine for the distribution of images and videos is set to rise from the current five to ten years, the maximum penalty for procurement from three to five years. Some experts also demand that prescription periods for sexual abuse be lifted. Because victims are often decades later able to talk about their experiences.

SURGERY: Multiple interviews with children should be avoided. In every police station, a civil servant should be further qualified to become a child protection specialist, recommends Deutsche Kinderhilfe. Associations and the Bosbach Commission are in favor of increased video surveillance.

PREVENTION: Children should be better informed. All children can potentially be reached through school-based prevention programs, explains the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). Good approaches already exist with theater projects, according to the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kinder- und Jugendschutz. Increasingly, prevention should include digital media.

EDUCATION: Child protection must become a compulsory subject in the educator training, in the study as well as in the education at family courts and with pediatricians, demands the German children's association. Medical personnel, emergency services, police, teachers and educators should be trained in early detection.

CHILDREN'S RIGHTS: Children who receive help with education should, in the view of the German Children's Association, have a legal right to regular personal discussions with the Youth Welfare Office. They should be able to talk about their well-being, their wishes and possible dangers without the parents.

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