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More parents lose custody rights

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Photo: DPA
11:00 CEST+02:00
After a spate of highly publicised child abuse cases, more German parents are having their children taken away from them by the state, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Tuesday.

The number of children who have been separated from families by child services has increased a dramatic 50 percent since 2003 and in many states, the number has grown over ten percent just in the past year.

Over 28,000 children were removed from their homes in 2007, the latest year data are available.

Experts attribute the increase to a new child safety law passed in 2005 after several children died due to abuse from parents.

"The reform has enormously many positive consequences," Thomas Meysen of the German Institute for Family Law and Youth Help told the newspaper.

Those numbers may rise further. Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a Christian Democrat, has announced plans to beef up the 2005 law and increase inspections of homes where child abuse is suspected.

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Social Democrats in the ruling coalition disagree with von der Leyen's plans. The SPD, along with some child welfare experts, say the 2005 law has already significantly improved the coordination between kindergartens, schools and child services.

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