Oberbergischer Kreis declares war on sexual violence against children

Oberberg – All five youth welfare offices and four responsible counseling centers in Oberberg have concluded a cooperation agreement to expand the counseling service – and 4.5 new offices are set to strengthen prevention.

Written by Peter Notbaum

The general rule is that children who have been victims of sexual violence should contact at least seven to eight adults before they can be heard. The verbs often remain undiscovered for a long time and only a few affected are able to talk about what they have been through. The number of unreported cases is correspondingly high. Complexes of abuse, as happened recently in Bergisch Gladbach and Münster, but also more recently within the Catholic Church in Gummersbach, are causing massive social protest time and time again.

In order to combat this situation and meet the current urgent need, all five youth welfare offices and four responsible counseling centers in the Oberberg region (Nina + Nikko, Psychological Counseling Center Herbstmühle, Home for All and Psychological Counseling Center in the Oberberg Region signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement on Friday on the expansion of advisory structures and the Coordination in the Case of Sexual Violence against Children and Youth in the Oberberg Region.For this purpose, funding for 4.5 new positions has been obtained from the Ministry for Children, Family, Refugees and Integration (MKFFI).

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Offer must be used nationwide and as needed across the region. It should be available locally, fast and professionally, but also with low-threshold access,” confirmed Ralf Schmalenbach (photo), Head of Social Health in the Oberberg region, at today’s press conference. An application for funding can be submitted on the basis of the new Child Protection Act in the state of Oberberg New South Wales, which has been in effect since 1 May, to expand specialist advisory structures and offerings in this area, creating additional structures and coordinating them with one another in order to enable a unified approach to the subject Specialist counseling structures should make it easier for victims and their families to receive counseling Psychological and therapeutic offers tailored to their condition.

Schmallenbach is happy that the voted state government is still putting the law on its way, but at the same time described it as a compromise due to some loopholes: “And child protection must not tolerate compromise!” Written by Birgit Steyer, Head of the Social Development Coordination Office in the County of Oberberg came together when creating the concept: “We want to set standards and show that this is where music will play in the future when it comes to child protection.” Counseling structures: from diagnosis, counseling and treatment to preventive presentations, communication activities and mentoring groups.

Thomas Heine, head of Gummersbach’s youth welfare office, also emphasized that they want to go further than the state government intends: “We want a joint action plan to protect children.” He stated that all youth welfare offices in Oberberg were dealing with many cases, of a sexual nature and dealing with ordinary violence. In Gummersbach alone there are 10 to 20 serious cases each year, but this does not indicate the number of cases that go unreported. The biggest problem is the long waiting time for the victims, who can only be helped after half a year due to the lack of specialists. He sees it as a great benefit that the counseling centers are now being strengthened with the newly created positions.

Of course, one does not know if it is possible to reduce the number of seven to eight points of contact, says Ludger Sändker, head of the psychological counseling center Herbstmühle in Wipperfürth. However, with the expansion of sites, the protective part can be expanded significantly. “We need to see better, listen better, and do things earlier,” he says. In addition, Herbstmühle was awarded the contract to establish the regional office for the Cologne government region. You will act as a liaison between the central office in AJS Cologne and the new offices in the advice centers in the administrative region and will be primarily responsible for information, training and public relations work on this topic in the region.

Olaf Hess, head of the district’s Psychological Counseling Center, hopes to also be able to combat another statistic: According to this, there should be one or two children in every classroom nationwide who are already victims of sexual violence. “We want to shed light on this dark field so we can get these kids to speak.” However, with protective displays, the goal is also to teach children to date so that they can “say no” and stand up for themselves.

Dagmar Steinmann, CEO of nina + nico, sees it in a similar way: We need to go to schools more and train teachers as well so they can see when children change in nature. When the association started in 1999, they were still dealing with 40 cases. During the Corona lockdown there were 250. “We have dared to do a lot in the past few years, but not because it would have gone beyond our range. You have to hold on to everything you start.”

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