Facts about child abuse

Police crime statistics record many cases of child abuse every year. However, since a large part of the acts take place in the family or social environment of the victims, a high number of unreported cases must be assumed – crimes that are not reported because the victims are too small or the shame too great. The physical and mental damage often shape these children for life.

Current figures and data as well as important background information on legal bases and risk factors can be found on the following pages.

Police crime statistics record many cases of child abuse every year. However, since a large part of the acts take place in the family or social environment of the victims, a high number of unreported cases must be assumed – crimes that are not reported because the victims are too small or the shame too great. The physical and mental damage often shape these children for life.

Current figures and data as well as important background information on legal bases and risk factors can be found on the following pages.

Just the tip of the iceberg

The police crime statistics recorded for the year 2018 3,487 cases of child abuse (§ 225 StGB). There were a total of 4,180 victims, 58.1 percent of whom were male, 41.9 percent female. You can find further figures in our infographic child abuse in Germany.

The clearance rate was 97.3 percent. However, it only applies to the displayed cases. Child abuse must be by one high number of unreported cases crimes not reported, since the crime is primarily in the family and the Victim too small and are too helpless to draw attention to themselves. It is characteristic of older abused children that they often remain silent because they believe that they have been rightly punished, e.g. for bed-wetting, poor academic performance, etc..

Even though there are no precise figures on the extent of physical child abuse and child neglect, surveys of adolescents and young adults show that around 5 to 10 percent of all parents apply severe and relatively frequent physical punishment to their children (cf. Witt et al., "Current prevalence figures for child abuse in Germany". conference "Child protection at the interface between medicine and youth welfare" 2017).

Abuse shapes children for a lifetime

Girls and boys are victims of physical child abuse, emotional child abuse and child neglect approximately equally often. The violence of the parents in the form of abuse or neglect is mostly directed against children in the first years of life.

The mental and physical damage to all forms of child abuse often shape these children for life. Addiction and propensity to violence are just two possible consequences that can lead to the cycle of distress and stress violence continues from generation to generation. Generated Violence against Children do not necessarily have to be violent again – the biographies of young (and adult) violent offenders point to a connection: Many of them experienced violence in their childhood.

As Child Abuse Perpetrator and neglect occur Women and men about the same number in appearance. They come from all social classes. The deed often arises from an overwhelming situation. The perpetrators also urgently need outside help.

Child abuse is punishable

The legislator provides the Child abuse, namely the neglect and the physical violence, under punishment. The abuse of persons under protection, child abuse or neglect is punished with imprisonment from six months to ten years in accordance with Section 225 of the Criminal Code (StGB).

Since November 2000, non-violent education has been Section 1631 of the German Civil Code (BGB) is a legal mandate for all those responsible for parenting. After that, children have one Right to non-violent upbringing. Physical punishments, psychological injuries and other degrading measures are prohibited.

(1) Anyone who is a person under the age of eighteen or a person defenseless due to frailty or illness who:

  1. under his care or custody,
  2. belongs to his household,
  3. has been left by the person responsible for care or
  4. is subordinate to him in the context of an employment or employment relationship, tortures or cruel mistreatment, or anyone who, through malicious neglect of his duty to take care of them, damages their health, is punished with a prison sentence of six months to ten years.

(2) The attempt is punishable.

(3) On imprisonment not less than one year can be seen if the perpetrator puts the person under protection at risk through the act

  1. death or serious damage to health or
  2. causes considerable damage to physical or mental development.

(4) In less severe cases of paragraph 1, a sentence of three months to five years can be recognized, in less severe cases of paragraph 3, a sentence of six months to five years.

(1) Personal care includes in particular the duty and the right to look after, raise, supervise and determine the child’s stay.

(2) Children have the right to a non-violent upbringing. Physical punishments, psychological injuries and other degrading measures are prohibited.

(3) The family court shall support the parents on request in the exercise of personal security in suitable cases.

Overwork can be a cause

Experts agree that it is special Risk factors for abuse and neglect gives. Due to the high dark field, there is no scientifically proven knowledge about a clear relationship between causes and certain effects. However, there are situations that can favor child abuse and neglect.

The Life story of the parents plays a major role: if they themselves have been neglected or shaped by other negative experiences such as violence, these factors have an impact on the child’s upbringing behavior. Also a low level of education, poverty, on young age, psychosocial stress, acute mental health problems or dependencies or addiction can have a negative impact on care. Also separation, Changing partners, debts or unemployment are factors that cause crises and conflicts within the family. If the parent is overwhelmed, neglect or abuse of the children can be favored. But also contribute to overloading the family cramped living conditions and a lack of support in the environment at.

Does the child have one increased need for care or supervision (for example a developmental disorder or delay, a disability or is it a "Cry Baby"), parents who have a difficult life story can quickly become overwhelmed. This overwork can lead to neglect or abuse of a child. If it is “unwanted”, this fact alone can favor a later risk to the child’s well-being.

These risk factors can, but need not, result in abuse / neglect.

There are many unemployed, single, underage or mentally ill parents who take care of their children with care.

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Christina Cherry
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