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German Catholic school in rectal pill rights row

Published: 07 May 2012 16:11 GMT+02:00

The Collegium Josephinum (CoJoBo) in Bonn, a private school for around 1,200 boys, is struggling to maintain its reputation for excellence. One of the teachers, who was also a priest, was recently suspended pending an investigation into allegations that he sexually abused two of its pupils.

The investigation threw a spotlight on the school's medical service. For decades, the school followed the practice, common in Germany, of giving children painkiller suppositories for a variety of non-specific ailments – migraines, stomach aches, sprained joints.

"They were only ever administered in acute cases, only in the medical office, and only in the presence of a third party," school director Peter Billig told Monday’s Der Spiegel magazine.

He said there was little alternative. "Injections can only be given by doctors, and tablets take significantly longer to take effect,” he said.

But that did not stop Bonn city council from commissioning a report into when suppositories can or should be given to children or young people. Its result was somewhat embarrassing for the CoJoBo school.

"An emergency administration of a suppository for children older than toddler age is, from a medical point-of-view, a contradiction in terms," criticised Dominique Singer, of the Hamburg-Eppendorf University hospital, who helped write the report.

"Either it is a real... emergency, in which case suppositories are not effective enough, or the suppositories have a certain effect alleviating symptoms, in which case it is not an emergency."

Singer went on to say that administering suppositories was highly unusual after a certain age. She also criticised in-school medical services generally, because they offer a false sense of security and could delay the proper diagnosis of serious illnesses.

But another independent report, conducted by Cologne educational sociologist Michaela Schumacher, said that the CoJoBo school had always made "responsible use of this unusual medication," and that there had been no "sexual association" in its administration.

Jürgen L., the priest responsible for medical care at the school, told the magazine that rectal medication had only been administered once since 2010, and that was with parental consent. He underlined that it was only ever used in emergency situations.

The city council is now calling for another independent inquiry into the concrete allegations against the school, and an investigation into its medical care facilities.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:22 May 7, 2012 by royp
: This must be a joke, talk about getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar-( boys rectum).But I bet this has cured boys faking illness, as treatment means making a major lifestyle choice. Kind of funney if you are not the kid getting treated with the rectal pills. I mean come on what medical emergency is so urgent that it cannot wait the hour for normal pain pills, does not need a hospital visit, but rather a rectal pill is the only answer. But what this article fails to explain is what did the boys in the article think, was this traetment real or a punishment or a prient getting his jollys? did the boys request this treatment, as the article says this is normal in Germany? did they insert it themselves? this article lacks sufficient info to make any informed judgement. Maybe this was just harmless normal treatment, for Germans?
19:06 May 7, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
>For decades, the school followed the practice, common in Germany, of giving children painkiller suppositories for a variety of non-specific ailments ­ migraines, stomach aches, sprained joints.

oh yeah, like this is so not pedophilic.

What a load of nonsense.

Catholic priests shoving suppositories up a child's bum *wink* "against the pain" *wink wink*

I attended a public non-church elementary school in Germany, and I don't think this was ever done, or even heard of, period. It was never "common" in Germany. Give me a break.
20:12 May 7, 2012 by Englishted
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:25 May 7, 2012 by rosenthalenglish
iseedaftpeople-You are wrong.This is a method used for babies and toddlers in Germany when giving analgesia.We come from the UK where I was trained as a nurse in the RAF.We were shocked just how much this practise was used for young children.With 6 of our own we keep to the UK way of Parcetomal or Ibuprofen syrup for the small ones and tablets for the older ones.
03:48 May 8, 2012 by vonSchwerin
OMG! You mean the Germans think it's okay to shove something up a child's arse for something as routine as a headache or stomach upset? I'm sure that goes over well with a cranky child. This is patently absurd. What is wrong with acetaminophen syrup?
08:10 May 8, 2012 by Kiki somewhere in LaLa land
Actually Chango it is a common method of drug administration in France & most of Europe. It's just us Brits that have a problem with it. As I chemist I can tell you that it is a better method as far as drig effectiveness is concerned , taken orally a drug goes through the 'first pass effect' i.e through the stomach & liver where it is broken down somewhat before a reduced amount enters the bloodstream. Given rectally the drug goes straight into the bloodstream therefore it's effect is felt quicker & more efficiently. Also a small child is likely to spit/vomit out an oral drug whereas a suppostory easily glides in & causes no distress. Simples!
13:56 May 10, 2012 by Jeffvm
I have no problems with the medicine administration method, worked fine for me when I was ill as a child - but please please keep Catholic priests/nuns away from children, especially naked ones.
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