Out-patient child-protection clinics are registering increasing numbers of patients, but are underfunded
Crucial child-protection contact points rely on donations
Old, untreated bone fractures, bruises on unusual areas of the body, welts, strangling marks, genital trauma. More and more children are being taken to out-patient clinics by the Youth Welfare Office or their own parents. The number of abused children is levelling off at a disturbingly high level throughout Germany.
Out-patient child-protection clinics are being frequented more and more because parents‘ and youth welfare offices‘ reluctance to have suspicious cases investigated is low here. In addition, awareness of contact points as well as awareness among the population at large is growing. Youth welfare offices in North Rhine-Westphalia alone have acted on suspicion of threats to the welfare of children in 32,000 cases. Neglect, maltreatment or abuse have been confirmed In over one-third of these cases.
The figures show how much child-protection out-patient clinics are unfortunately needed in Germany. To take two examples: The outpatient clinic for child protection in Datteln treated around 150 young patients in 2011. This figure has risen to almost 1000 children at present. One thousand little children, neglected, mistreated and abused. Last year, the Children’s Competence Centre for Forensic Medicine in Hamburg examined around 800 children, most of them between the age of infancy and primary school. Its work has still not been placed on a secure financial footing, however: Child protection is not one of the standard services provided by health insurance schemes in Germany, and child protection has so far been funded above all by donations. Paediatricians report emergency packages costing between EUR 13 and 30 for detailed examinations, documentation and the contacts needed to the youth welfare office, police and forensic medicine specialists. For the Professional Association of Paediatricians, violence against children in Germany constitutes an „ongoing scandal“, as the spokesman for the association, Hermann Josef Kahl, puts it.