Pioneering role or quick fix?

The city of Giessen wants to require police certificates of good conduct from volunteers in children's and youth work starting in October. The municipality is thus considered a pioneer nationwide. The goal is to prevent sexual violence against children. A quick fix, say critics.

When many of his classmates are lying on the beach or at the quarry pond, it gets really exhausting for Paul Schunke. The 16-year-old is traveling as a counselor with a youth group from his Oberursel parish on a summer vacation. The fact that he bears a great responsibility there and must behave impeccably, for example when a child or young person asks for a confidential conversation, is something he learned in the teamer training: "If we can't cope with a situation or are unsure, we should consult the pastor immediately."Paul considers the controversial certificate of good conduct superfluous: The pastor does not need such a paper, "he can judge us quite well himself". In addition, he personally selects the team members "and knows us all pretty well, so there are no surprises."In children's and youth work, sexual violence against children has long been an ie. This also involves the "perpetrators in their own ranks". "Because quite a few who sexually exploit children and young people try to sneak in where they can establish contact and relationships with their victims," the Bavarian Youth Ring notes. The federation offers a country-wide unique advanced training for guidance forces in the child and youth work. The model project "PraTect" helps institutions for children and youth work to develop strategies to prevent sexual violence. "A building block for the prevention of sexual violence" The city of Giessen wants to take a different approach and, starting in October, require police certificates of good conduct from volunteers in children's and youth work. The obligation applies to helpers from the age of 14, says spokeswoman Claudia Boje. In the future only those federations are to receive subsidies, which present certificates of good conduct. "It is a building block for the prevention of sexual violence," Boje emphasizes. Giessen plays a pioneer role, but will not remain alone with it.The discussion about certificates of good conduct for volunteers is also being held at the federal level, reports Christian Weis, policy officer at the German Federal Youth Council in Berlin. Many cities and municipalities, however, were waiting for the decisions to be made. Nevertheless Weis explains: "We do not think anything of a duty for volunteers."The Giessen planning is a "quick shot". The question alone of who belongs to the circle of volunteers is hard to settle, he said. "General suspicion" Weis cites the example of the school booster club's field trip, which includes a parent. "Would have to be present there a certificate of good conduct?" "And what about the reading grandma in kindergarten. Needs a certificate of good conduct?", asks the Protestant Giessen city youth pastor and chairman of the city youth ring, Martin Schindel. The federation from 41 federations and associations rejects the certificate of good conduct obligation. City speaker Boje clarifies however that the obligation is to apply only to aids, who work alone responsibly with children and young people."We ame that the certificate of good conduct requirement will deter many volunteers," Weis explains. The volunteers came under a "general suspicion". A certificate of good conduct also only provides "apparent security," adds Schindel.Instead of relying solely on certificates of good conduct, the Bundesjugendring advocates an overall concept to protect children from sexual violence. "Most of the bearers are already working out measures," Weis recounts. This includes, for example, a code of conduct and precautions for specific cases, such as a trusted person in the association or an emergency telephone number.

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