Strangers talk to children in Dresden: ‘The perpetrators are promising sweets’
Recently, strangers have been getting closer and closer to children on their way to school in Dresden. Police and social workers give advice on how parents can educate their children about such situations.
Dresden. It happened at midday at 2:30 p.m. on bus number 64 bound for Kaditz. An unknown assailant boarded a bus at the “Enno-Heidebroek-Straße” station in mid-June and spoke to a 12-year-old. “He complimented her and asked if she wanted to come to his house. The child refused,” police said.
When the girl wanted to get off at the “Nätherstraße” station, the man grabbed her by the straps of her bag. Only when a roughly 20-year-old woman intervened did the stranger leave the girl, according to police. Such cases, where strangers approach children, happen again and again in Dresden.
How many times were children talked to in Dresden?
“In 2022, 34 cases of suspicious contact with children were detected in Dresden,” said police spokesman Marco Lasky. But it did not reach the state of emergency. “There are no known cases of children who have boarded or walked in vehicles,” he says.
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Cases are generally spread across the city. But in the Plauen and Bichen districts there were four cases each, according to police. “Cases often happen in the early morning or early afternoon,” Laske said when asked by SZ. “It can be assumed that there is a connection to the way to school.”
Often the perpetrators use the same scam over and over again: “In the majority of known cases, the display of sweets and the opportunity to raise pets are named.” It is difficult to identify the culprits. “So far, the suspect has been identified,” Lasky said of the 2022 balance sheet so far.
34 cases this year are many compared to previous years. In 2021 there were 54 known cases to the police, and in 2020 there were 30. However, schools were closed for months in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the closures were imposed twice.
How can I protect my child?
Dresden Police advise parents to talk openly with their children about this and to educate them. “Parents should give the child a firm opinion. The main message: No one can ask you for something you don’t want,” the police spokesperson stresses.
It is also important to practice with the child how to behave in threatening situations. “They should run away, talk to other adults, or shout loudly for help,” advises Lask.
Parents should also discuss with the child where and from whom they can get help in an emergency. The child should know the police number 110. According to Laske’s recommendation, let the children go to school in groups with other children.
Heik Mann, Head of the AWO Specialized Center for the Prevention of Sexual Violence against Children and Youth “Shakora”, knows the problem of frequent approaching of children and young people by strangers in Dresden. The social worker advises conveying to the children: “My body belongs to me. I decide which touches I feel comfortable with. I can rely on my feelings.”
It is important to convey to children that they can pass on apparent secrets that are harmful to themselves or to another person. “I’m allowed to get help, even if I’m prevented from doing so,” Mann says. “It’s not my fault if my rights are violated.”
But she warns of another major danger: “Often, sexual violence against children and young people is perpetrated by perpetrators who know children and young people – from neighbors, parents or coaches.”
Unfortunately, there are still very few prevention and intervention offers in Saxony. “We very much hope that the current offerings will not be reduced further due to the necessary cost savings due to Covid-19, but will be expanded and expanded,” Mann says. Offers often cannot meet many inquiries and requirements due to capacity reasons.