Schröder unveils plan to better protect kids

Schröder unveils plan to better protect kids
Photo: DPA
The German government is launching a new, aggressive effort to protect children and young people from abuse in families, schools and places of worship.

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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