61 400 Initiatives for the protection of children and adolescents in 2017 – Federal Statistical Office

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Press 61 400 Inobhutnahme for the protection of children and adolescents in 2017

Press Release No. 311 as of August 22, 2018

WIESBADEN – In 2017, the youth welfare offices in Germany carried out around 61,400 provisional measures to protect children and young people (taking care of them). As the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) further reports, the inspections were mainly stimulated by social services and youth welfare offices (58%). In 17% of all cases, children and young people themselves had sought help from the Youth Welfare Office. In a further 14% of cases, the police or regulatory authorities drew attention to the problem situation, and in 6% the parents (or parts of parents) of the minors concerned. The remaining protective measures (5%) were taken on the basis of information from others, such as doctors, teachers or relatives.

The youth welfare offices are entitled and obliged to carry out provisional measures to protect children and young people as socio-educational help in acute crisis or dangerous situations. These can be initiated at the request of the children concerned, in the event of an urgent danger to the welfare of the child or unaccompanied entry from abroad. Until a solution to the problem situation has been found, the minors are temporarily taken into custody and, if necessary, placed in a new home or foster family.

Around 20 300 (33%) of all boys and girls taken into care in 2017 were still children (under 14 years of age). Most frequently (49%), the youth welfare offices introduced provisional protective measures for these children because their parents or one of their parents were overtaxed. Protection against neglect (21%) and abuse (14%) also played an important role in this age group. In addition to children, a good 41,000 youths (14 to under 18 years of age) were taken into care in 2017. In adolescence, the majority of the custody measures were carried out as a result of unaccompanied entry from abroad (51%). Also of importance for the young people were excessive demands on the parents or one parent (18%) and general relationship problems (8%). A good one in ten children affected (11%) and just under one in three young people affected (30%) had run away from home (including a home, foster families and other forms of assisted living) before they were taken into care due to the problem situation.

Most provisional protection measures for children under 14 years of age ended with their return to custodians (43%) or with educational assistance in an institution or foster family (32%). In contrast, young people aged 14 to under 18 years returned to their guardians much less frequently (19%): Here, the most frequent outcome of the child custody was educational assistance in a home, foster family or assisted living (26%). Other inpatient help, for example in a youth psychiatric ward or a hospital, was also used more frequently in adolescence following in-care (20%). Every second provisional protective measure could be terminated after two weeks at the latest, both for children (50%) and adolescents (49%).

As a result of a change in the law on the treatment of unaccompanied minors, the current results of the statistics on provisional protection measures are only comparable to a limited extent with the previous results: In 2017, for the first time – in addition to the regular protective measures previously covered by the statistics (pursuant to § 42 SGB VIII ) – a further 11 100 so-called temporary protective measures after unaccompanied entry (pursuant to § 42a SGB VIII) were recorded. Together with the approximately 11,400 regular initial detentions after unaccompanied entry (pursuant to § 42 para. 1 no. 3 SGB VII ), they will be fully included in the overall result from 2017. As a result, there were around 22,500 inspections due to unaccompanied entry in the 2017 reporting year (37%).

In spite of this expansion, the number of cases taken into custody after unaccompanied entry was significantly lower than in 2016, when a good 44 900 regular cases taken into custody after unaccompanied entry were reported. It should be noted that the information from the years 2015 and 2016 may be limited in their informative value. The results are based on administrative data which are recorded by the responsible personnel in the youth welfare offices after the respective initial care has been completed. Due to the heavy burden on the youth welfare offices in 2015 and 2016 due to the high number of unaccompanied minors entering the country, recording problems cannot be ruled out.

The innovations in statistics resulting from the change in the law are explained on the website of the Federal Statistical Office on child and youth welfare.

Detailed data on provisional protection statistics can be found in the table Provisional protection measures for children and adolescents (22523-0001) in the GENESIS – Online database.

Further information is available under Publications.

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Christina Cherry
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