Child poverty gap growing in Germany

Two-thirds of children of single parents in Germany will live at least a year in poverty, UNICEF said on Monday in a child welfare report that found widening health and educational gaps among German children.

Child poverty gap growing in Germany
An ad campaign on poverty: 'And you're out.' Photo: DPA

The report found that 10 percent of children raised by a single parent – whether mother or father – suffer sustained poverty.

“If parents have work, that is the best way the state has of preventing poverty,” said German family minister Ursula von der Leyen, a Christian Democrat, who presented the report alongside UNICEF officials in Berlin.

Von der Leyen called for a combination of child support payments and more childcare opportunities for children under the age of three.

German children growing up on the wrong side of the income gap require emotional and educational support as well as funding, UNICEF officials said, urging federal, state and local officials to work together on programs for needy children.

“Policy must overcome an approach that has been splintered into departments and put the best interests children first in all the facets of their lives,” the report’s author, Hans Bertram, said in a statement.

The report found that 15 percent of German children between three and 17 years of age display behavioural problems. Seventeen percent of children in that age group are overweight, according to the report. And more than 20 percent of German children between the ages of 11 and 17 years old smoke – more than in any other industrialized country.

UNICEF also found inequality in the German educational system – but found that even as weaker students were marginalized, gifted students were not given enough opportunity.

Meanwhile, children of immigrant families are less likely to go to kindergarten and more likely to attend a non-university track high school. Seventeen percent of them did not graduate.



‘Winter of rage’: Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

Experts are warning that economic hardship may lead to protests throughout Germany in autumn and winter - and that they could be infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

'Winter of rage': Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

In view of rising energy costs, supply difficulties, growing unemployment and general pessimism about the future, authorities in Germany are warning that there will be mass protests this year – and that these are likely to be abused by extremists.

The warnings come from civil servants from the federal offices for the Protection of the Constitution or Bundesverfassungsschutz – Germany’s watchdog for safeguarding free democracy at the federal level and in the 16 states.

Stephan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German broadcaster ZDF that, following the pandemic and the world events of recent months, there is a “highly emotionalised, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood” among the population, “whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is tainted by massive doubts”.

He expects that “legitimate protests” will be infiltrated by extremists, especially those from the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) scene and that it is likely that some will turn violent.

READ ALSO: How Germany is saving energy ahead of uncertain winter

“What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.

The head of Hamburg’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Torsten Voß, told the Funke Mediengruppe that he expects “extremist conspiracy ideologues and other enemies of the constitution” will try to abuse protests for their ideological purposes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said “a spectrum of radical opponents of vaccination and so-called Covid deniers have built up a protest infrastructure, with contacts and channels for mobilisation”. This group will try to use this infrastructure for the energy security protests in the autumn, he said.

READ ALSO: German households could see ‘four-digit’ rise in energy costs this winter

Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Jörg Müller, also fears that extremists could exploit the energy crisis and high inflation fears for their own purposes.

“Extremists dream of a German winter of rage” he told Welt am Sonntag. “They hope that the energy crisis and price increases will hit people particularly hard so that they can pick up on the mood and advertise their anti-state aspirations. We are following these goings-on with watchful eyes and open ears.”


Constitution – (die) Verfassung

Rage – (die) Wut

Violent – gewalttätig

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