Help and prevention

In view of numerous cases of abuse at German schools and boarding schools, Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan has announced consequences: according to her own statements, she wants to discuss concrete help and prevention measures with the acting president of the Conference of Education Ministers, the Bavarian Education Minister Ludwig Spaenle and the presidents of the teachers' associations in the coming days.

Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) continues to advocate the establishment of a round table to deal with the abuse cases. Vatican also calls for cases to be cleared up.Numerous cases of abuse have recently come to light, especially at Catholic schools, some of which date back decades. According to a report in the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, churchmen in 20 of 27 German dioceses allegedly abused children entrusted to them. Also at the private Odenwaldschule in southern Hesse are said to have been regularly abused students in the 70s and 80s, as became known over the weekend.Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the newspaper "Welt am Sonntag" that it was shocking that new cases of abuse were becoming known every day. She reiterated her call for the establishment of a round table. "A round table is not a pillory, but can promote social reappraisal," the justice minister emphasized. Particularly in cases in which legal reappraisal is no longer possible, a round table can open a dialogue about the legitimate concerns of the victims. The chairman of the German Catholic Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, had recently rejected the suggestion.Federal Education Minister Schavan told the newspaper "Bild am Sonntag" that parents must be able to rely on their children being protected from violence and abuse in educational institutions. Wherever there is suspicion of violence and abuse in schools and boarding schools, full clarification must take place. "Nothing must be concealed", there must be "zero tolerance" here, the CDU politician demanded.The Catholic Church must now send a clear signal that protecting the victims and showing compassion for the children "really is the most important thing", demanded Bavarian Justice Minister Beate Merk (CSU). For this, he said, the church must cooperate "quite consistently" with the public prosecutors' offices and pass on suspicious facts. She also called for longer statutes of limitations for sexual abuse, saying the "minimum" was 30 years. Sexual abuse is not comparable with other crimes because of the traumatization of the victims, Merk told the "Suddeutsche Zeitung" (Saturday edition).Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, whom the Catholic Bishops' Conference has appointed as special representative for cases of abuse, told the paper, "We will do everything we can in terms of clarification and prevention. I hope that victims will be encouraged to talk about sexual abuse and thus find a way for themselves to shape their lives in a positive way despite the severe injuries they have suffered."

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