Schröder unveils plan to better protect kids

The German government is launching a new, aggressive effort to protect children and young people from abuse in families, schools and places of worship.

Schröder unveils plan to better protect kids
Photo: DPA

The “Action Plan 2011,” presented on Tuesday, stresses the importance of civic responsibility among ordinary Germans, but it also includes new plans to streamline sex abuse reporting procedures and provide resources to young people at risk.

“The horrific cases of abuse in institutions and families show that we must increase our efforts at all social and political levels to protect children even further” said Family Affairs Minister Kristina Schröder.

Cases of child abuse in the Catholic Church hung over Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Germany, when he held an impromptu meeting with some adult victims.

Schröder said that one way to prevent abuse is to institute a national programme to expand abuse education in schools.

Schröder also wants to strengthen background checks conducted on people working with children in youth shelters, schools and other places where young people congregate.

Under the plan, more information would be released about past offences by potential workers and the checks would cover a longer time period.

The plan also envisions loosening restrictions on mental health professionals so they can more easily tell authorities when young people are at risk. It would also promote more extensive networking between child protection authorities.

But the DKSB child protection federation said Tuesday that the new plan did little to provide secure funding for youth shelters or counselling centres. It said workers are forced to spend too much time figuring out how to get more donations instead of working with young people.

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.