Child abuse

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Child abuse is violence against children or young people. It is a particularly serious form of child welfare violation . The term child abuse encompasses physical and psychological acts of violence, sexual abuse and neglect . Such acts on children are a criminal offense in most western industrialized countries. Statistics have shown that the perpetrators are often the parents or other close relatives.


Child abuse can be understood as a non-accidental, conscious or unconscious, violent, psychological or physical damage that occurs in families or institutions (e.g. kindergartens, schools, homes), which leads to injuries, development inhibitions or even death and which is good for and the rights of a child are impaired or threatened (according to SchBast).

This definition does not take into account forms of everyday and systematic hostility towards children, such as those expressed in poor housing conditions or life-threatening traffic. To count these as mistreatment would make the term too imprecise.

Forms of abuse

A distinction is made between:

  • Physical abuse (physical violence),
  • Sexual abuse ,
  • Emotional abuse (emotional violence) and
  • neglect

For physical abuse include physical violence and severe punishment by guardians. For sexual abuse , the exposure of the perpetrator or exhibitionistic forms of action as well as counts of sexual abuse with physical contact . Of emotional abuse is spoken when the child learns permanently hostile rejection, cancellation, ridicule, threats, withdrawal of love or isolation and can not develop humanely. On the other hand, inappropriately controlling behavior, pampering or urging the child into an overwhelming role as a partner or parent substitute ( parentification ) also represent emotional abuse. The incidence in the USA and Great Britain is around 10 percent for women and 4 percent for men. In science and society too little attention is paid to the form of abuse of emotional and physical neglect . The neglect is often not immediately recognizable, since health consequences or development deficits only become visible after a long-term inadequate supply.

Often these forms of abuse are mutually dependent, for example intimidation of the child after the abuse can be understood as emotional abuse . Physical abuse can result from neglecting an infant .


Corporal punishment

In most countries around the world, corporal punishment is not generally prohibited by law as a means of education. It is therefore between "non-abusive" (nonabusive) and "abusive" (abusive) differed punishment. Each country has its own laws that separate the offense of abuse from legal punishment. In Germany, since the law was changed in 2000 , every corporal punishment, regardless of its severity, has been regarded as abuse by law (see also right to punishment ). Most of the abuse occurs by people close to you (older siblings, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, close friends in the family).


The German Children's Aid is not rated as a "matter of individual lifestyle or an expression of constitutionally guaranteed education law " when guardians permit that minors obese are. "Parents who allow a 10-year-old to weigh 100 kg or more are abusing their child according to the existing legal situation! Only if we accept this is there a chance to take preventive countermeasures together with the families within the framework of child and youth welfare and to intervene early on to change behavior. "The state must be given the right to oblige parents of obese children to take part in nutrition courses and not to take part to sanction.

Legal issues


According to Section 1631 (2) BGB , children in Germany have “a right to a non-violent upbringing. Corporal punishments, emotional injuries and other degrading measures are inadmissible. ”In addition, certain forms of abuse are punishable under the Criminal Code , for example according to § 225 StGB abuse of wards (or § 221 - § 229 StGB (killing and bodily harm )) and according to § 177 - § 178 StGB ( rape , sexual coercion ).

It is possible to prosecute abusive tourism, which means that people who rape or otherwise sexually abuse children abroad can also be punished for this in Germany. Most of these paragraphs describe official offenses , which means that the public prosecutor's office must investigate any evidence, even if a complaint should be withdrawn.

Inconsistency in legislation

The legislation has taken on a contradictory form. On the one hand, child abuse is regarded as a criminal offense and the Criminal Code, with Section 225 of the Criminal Code, requires up to ten years imprisonment for such an offense. With the newer law to outlaw violence in upbringing , however, the principle "Help instead of punishment" was anchored. Quote from the draft law (only here was the concept "Help instead of punishment" named):

“The aim of the bill is to outlaw violence in upbringing without criminalizing the family. In conflict situations, the focus should not be on criminal prosecution or the withdrawal of parental responsibility, but rather on helping the children, young people and parents concerned. "

The publication of the adopted law in the Federal Law Gazette ( Federal Law Gazette 2000 I No. 48 ) shows, in addition to changes to the maintenance regulations, two legal modifications to protect children from violence:

Change of the BGB:
Section 1631 (2) is worded as follows:
“(2) Children have the right to a non-violent upbringing. Corporal punishments, emotional injuries and other degrading measures are not permitted. "
Amendment to Book Eight of the Social Code (SGB VIII):
"They (child and youth welfare) should also show ways in which conflict situations in the family can be resolved without violence."

In addition, this contradiction was also incorporated into the administrative regulation on the action of the public prosecutor's offices (RiStBV, guidelines for criminal proceedings and administrative fines). There it says in the nationally applicable version from February 1, 1997 under Section 235:

"Child abuse
(1) As a matter of principle , the public prosecutor also investigates unnamed and confidential information .
(2) In the case of child abuse, the special public interest must generally be affirmed. As a rule, referral to private legal action is not appropriate.
(3) If socio-educational, family therapeutic or other supportive measures have been initiated and these appear promising, there may be no public interest in prosecution. "

The implementation of the concept of help instead of punishment is reflected in the guidelines for the responsible authorities. The Handbook on Child Welfare, sponsored by the Ministry of Family Affairs, guides the employees of the Youth Welfare Office and the General Social Service (ASD) to make decisions about protecting children as follows:

“The involvement of the police is only possible if the legal possibilities of the ASD to protect the children and adolescents from dangers to their well-being are not sufficient, the action of the police to protect the children is therefore absolutely necessary, and if the success of their own work of the ASD is not endangered by the involvement of the police. "

Child abuse is an official offense, but it will only be prosecuted if it is reported to the law enforcement authorities. Even if the authorities responsible for child protection do not call in the police and the public prosecutor, child abuse remains a criminal offense:

"Anyone who fulfills the offense of § 223 StGB on his child has made himself a criminal offense."

Split attitude of the state

This form of legislation expresses a divided state attitude towards cases of violence in families. This is particularly evident in the paradox that a spouse who is violent against the partner has to reckon with deprivation of custody , eviction from the home and finally also deprivation of liberty according to the violence protection law applicable to adult victims Upbringing) is pursued as a solution to alleviate an overwhelming situation . In the state measures against domestic violence , children are excluded as an independent group of victims. In its “Standards and Recommendations” , the federal-state working group on domestic violence only allows children to be regarded as indirectly affected victims.

Reactions to media reports

After the media reported a large number of serious child abuse cases, some of which were fatal, in which the youth welfare offices were previously involved, their competence in measures to combat violent family crimes against children was questioned. In 2005, this led to a new version of the protection mandate in the Child and Youth Welfare Act (SGB VIII). Since then, the youth welfare offices have been obliged to call in skilled workers and, as a last resort, the police in dangerous situations. The youth welfare offices were already obliged to take care of the child if there were recognizable risks to the welfare of the child ( Section 42 of Book VIII of the Social Code).

Limited opportunities for youth welfare

In the case of youth welfare and child protection, it is sometimes argued against the involvement of the police that parents would then withdraw from all offers of help for upbringing . One problem lies in the fact that the Child and Youth Welfare Act, which came into force in 1991, unlike the Youth Welfare Act before, regards the custodian and not the child as the beneficiary. Therefore, up to the introduction of Section 8a of Book VIII of the Social Code, the youth welfare office's options for intervention were largely curtailed. With the introduction of § 8a, the youth welfare offices are now called upon to develop concepts on how, in the case of child welfare endangerment in youth welfare institutions, this can be remedied through gradual interventions.

Even after the introduction of the new legal instruments, however, a major problem remains that the majority of cases of child abuse are not known to either the youth welfare offices or the police and the children concerned remain completely defenseless. A Federal Council initiative that provides for the introduction of compulsory examinations is to take this into account.

Example Berlin

Only in Berlin is there a specialized police station . In order to save victims of violence often agonizing multiple statements, it would make sense in the event of a complaint to only submit it to such an authority (nevertheless, the statements must be repeated at least once in court). The use of video technology for victim statements to avoid multiple statements or confrontation with the perpetrator is only very rarely noticed in Germany; it is often rejected with formal legal or financial arguments.

Reporting requirement

Even with the introduction of Section 8a of the Book of the Social Code (SGB VIII), there was still no obligation to report in Germany when individual abuse became known. Doctors, social pedagogues and psychologists are fundamentally bound by their duty of confidentiality ( § 203 StGB). If, however, there is a risk to the physical and / or psychological development of children / adolescents, they can not only assert a “ justifying emergencythat justifies the breach of confidentiality (which is the case beforehand in the event of danger to life or limb was ( § 34 StGB)). In the event of a child's welfare endangerment (e.g. repeated abuse), persons with professional secrecy are entitled (but not obliged) to inform the youth welfare office if those affected do not accept suitable assistance measures. The decision-making and rejection of offers of help by those affected should be documented in writing. The professionals have a right to advice from the youth welfare agency on questions of procedure; The responsible data protection supervisory authorities also answer questions about data protection. For comparison: In the USA, representatives of institutions dealing with children are obliged by law (the “Reporting Act”) to inform the law enforcement authorities. These so-called mandated reporters can remain anonymous and enjoy immunity as long as they behave correctly.


The treatment of violent and sexual offenses in the family is divided into different offenses in Austrian criminal law: bodily harm is prohibited in § 83 ff. StGB , torturing or neglecting underage younger or defenseless persons, such as refusing medical treatment, in § 92 StGB, the deprivation of liberty, such as being locked in a cellar or storage room, are dealt with in Section 99 StGB. Furthermore, § 105 , § 106 StGB (coercion), § 107 StGB (dangerous threat) and § 212 StGB (abuse of a relationship of authority) come into question for child abuse . Serious sexual abuse of minors is regulated in § 206 StGB, sexual abuse of minors in § 207 StGB. The offense of neglect of the care, upbringing or supervision of minors is laid down in Section 199 of the Criminal Code. This act can be punished with a prison sentence of up to six months.


Representative studies on the extent of child abuse are rare in Germany; Most studies differ considerably in terms of research approach, underlying definition and, accordingly, the results. According to a study by the medical journal The Lancet , which is based on several international studies in which children and parents were asked about experiences of abuse and educational means , almost every 10th child is affected in affluent countries.

Physical violence in upbringing can be found in many children: according to studies, 75% to 80% have already received a "slap" or a "slap" at least once, 20% to 30% have suffered a more severe form of abuse such as a "beating" .

Probably the most common form of abuse is the neglect of children's needs, i.e. the withholding of material or emotional attention that is necessary for the child's development or life. So far, neglect has seldom been addressed by both society and science. The emotional abuse that occurs, for example, through degrading or negative behavior, has hardly been investigated empirically.

Every year 15,000 to 20,000 children across Germany are victims of sexual or sexualised violence .

Administration of drugs to children: In autumn 2010 hair samples were taken from 5 children in Bremen . Polytoxicomaniac consumption patterns were found in all 5 children . Then hair samples were taken from all children who were cared for in the context of public youth welfare in Bremen . Almost all children were found to be polytoxicomaniacal and a few monotoxicomaniacal patterns of use. In Bremerhaven, children whose parents use drugs or are supplied with methadone are tested regularly.

Cases recorded by the police: The bright field

The PKS ( Police Criminal Statistics ) provides information about the number of cases of child abuse recorded by the police . Please note:

  • The PKS only lists the cases shown ( bright field ). Cases without a display ( dark field ) are not taken into account (see " Overall extent ").
  • Due to the inhibition threshold for police reports, there is a concentration on "serious" cases.
  • Although child abuse includes non-sexual as well as sexual abuse, both categories are listed in parallel in the PKS due to the different criminal law paragraphs to be applied ( § 176 and § 225 StGB). The numbers in both areas may differ. a. due to different levels of awareness and / or willingness to report in the population.
  • The number of proven cases and judicial convictions is significantly lower.
  • In many cases, the investigation is stopped because evidence of a criminal act cannot be provided. In particular, it should also be noted that about every fourth reported case does not involve criminal conduct. There are many reasons why an advertisement is nevertheless made.

The police crime statistics in Germany show the following data for the year 2005 under the codes 2231 (abuse of children) and 1310 (sexual abuse of children) (PKS 2005):

Case development and clarification (PKS, Table 1)
Cases recorded change Clearance rate
2005 2004 absolutely in % 2005 2004
Child abuse: 2 905 2 916 −11 −0.4% 97.6% 97.2%
Child Sexual Abuse: 13 962 15 255 −1 293 −8.5% 81.7% 81.3%
Victims (PKS, Table 91)
All in all Male Female
Child abuse: 3,390 55.4% 44.6%
Child Sexual Abuse: 17 558 23.2% 76.8%
Gender and age structure of suspects (PKS, table 20)
total Male Female Age under 21 Age from 21
Child abuse: 2 962 56.5% 43.5% 4.7% 95.3%
Child Sexual Abuse: 9 805 96.4% 3.6% 27.9% 72.1%

In addition to these cases, which are directly assigned to the “child abuse” category, the police figures contain further data on crimes against children. For the year 2002 the PKS reported the following numbers of reported crimes that were directly related to child abuse (only child victims):

Offense Displayed cases
murder 38
Manslaughter and homicide on demand 67
Negligent homicide 108
Rape and sexual assault 643
Bodily harm resulting in death 21st
Dangerous / Serious Bodily Injury 9,028
Abuse of wards 3,058
Intentional slight bodily harm 26,119
Negligent assault 3,658
Offenses against personal freedom 9,982

Overall extent by including the dark field

Number of unreported cases in child abuse were determined by an investigation by the “Criminological Research Institute Lower Saxony”. This study was limited to physical violence, i.e. it did not take into account other forms of abuse such as neglect, sexual abuse, etc. The survey of young people about their experiences of violence carried out in 1998 showed that 7.2% of all children in the previous 12 months were under 12 years of abuse and 8.1% of these children had experienced severe punishment by their parents. Since there were approx. 9.3 million children of this age group in the Federal Republic according to the figures of the Federal Statistical Office, 1.42 million children were thus affected by severe punishment or abuse. The Federal Ministry of Family Affairs also mentioned this number in its press release of November 2000. For further information on frequency from population samples, see Childhood Trauma .

The following table shows the breakdown of these numbers:

Results: Victims of parental violence
Last 12 months Entire childhood
Abuse: 7.2% 9.8%
Severe punishments: 8.1% 17.1%
Light punishments 26.7% 29.7%

Factors for the brightfield / darkfield discrepancy

The reports recorded in the police crime statistics only amount to approx. 3500 per year. A comparison with the overall extent (see previous section) shows that only one in 400 cases is reported to the police. This extremely low reporting rate only increases slowly in the sub-areas where “awareness campaigns” increase the public's willingness to report, such as B. in child sexual abuse. Many of the youth welfare measures are justified with reasons other than suspicion of child abuse. The most common are excessive demands and relationship problems. However, this information is typical of youth welfare services, since the accusation of a criminal offense usually leads to a refusal to cooperate with voluntary forms of support. Its legal form was the assumption of excessive demands as the most common reason for child abuse through anchoring the principle of “help instead of punishment”. However, there is no scientific basis to support “excessive demands as the most common cause of child abuse”. But the political function of this classification is evident. On the one hand, this supports a hegemony of youth welfare for measures against child abuse, which counteracts a redistribution of public funds in favor of the law enforcement authorities, which are also responsible. Excessive demands as a reason for child abuse also has a relieving function for women's policy. According to the bright field figures from the Federal Criminal Police Office and the dark field figures from research on violence in the family, a significant proportion of the perpetrators are women.

State of knowledge of child and youth welfare in Germany

The level of knowledge available in child and youth welfare is centrally prepared and made accessible by the Dortmund work center for child and youth welfare statistics. In the special edition of its KomDat magazine from October 2006, the AKJStat summarized the situation as follows:

  • The data on neglect and mistreatment of children have so far been more than unsatisfactory.
  • The 11th report on children and adolescents says that 10% to 15% of all parents punish their children with frequent and severe physical punishment.
  • There are no comprehensive statements on how many cases in total were processed by the responsible “General Social Service” of the youth welfare offices and for how many cases of neglect and abuse countermeasures were taken.
  • The majority of the last 25,400 people who were taken into care by the Youth Welfare Office each year to protect children affect 12 to under 18-year-olds. Children under 6 are taken into care about 3,100 times a year. As a result of being taken into care, the youth welfare offices at the family court bring about a complete or partial withdrawal of parental custody in approx. 8,000 cases annually (or 5.2 per 10,000 under 18-year-olds).
  • The annual official cause of death statistics used by the AKJStat reflect the cases that were reported as homicides, i.e. it does not take into account the unreported cases of deaths in children not recognized as homicides. According to these statistics, the number of children under 10 years of age who died as a result of an assault fell by around half between 1980 and 2005 (from 1.5 cases to 0.6 cases per 100,000 of the population of the same age) . Infants under the age of 1 are particularly victims (3.1 versus 0.3 deaths per 100,000 children among 1 to 10 year olds). According to the statistics, the causes of death are, in addition to “assault by hanging”, “strangling” or “suffocating”, “neglect and abandonment” and “other types of abuse”.
  • According to a study by the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences in May 2008, children and young people who are under the supervision of the youth welfare office in homes and residential groups are exposed to a high risk of violence. According to the dean, Richard Günder, it is “irritating and alarming” that “over half of the educational specialists in homes and residential groups (are) of the opinion that physical violence still occurs as a punishment in today's home education”, but this is not the case means that an almost equally high percentage of respondents would approve of this.

USA statistical data

Much more detailed data on child abuse is collected in the United States. The Children's Bureau , a facility of the Department of Health and Human Services, has been collecting and publishing data from child protection facilities (55.8%) and directly from the population (44.2%) since 1995. Facts from the last report, "Child Maltreatment 2004":

  • In 2005, 872,000 children were ill-treated (based on an analysis of approximately 3 million reported cases).
  • Number of victims by age group: the younger the children, the greater the number of victims (16.1 ‰ for 1-3 year olds compared to 6.1 ‰ for 16-17 year olds).
  • Deaths predominantly affect the group of 1-3 year olds (81%, 12-17 year olds account for 3.4%).
  • Distribution of forms of abuse:
35.5%: Exclusively neglect
30.2%: Various forms of abuse
28.3%: Exclusively physical abuse
3.9%: Psychological or other forms of abuse
1.4%: Neglect of health
0.8%: Exclusively sexual abuse
  • Perpetrator / victim relationship: 78.5% of the perpetrators are the parents, 6.5% are other relatives and 4.1% are unmarried partners.
  • Age and gender of the perpetrators: 57.8% of the perpetrators are women (mean age 31 years) and 42.2% are men (mean age 34 years).

It should be noted that corporal punishment in raising children (such as so-called paddling ) is still common today in US families and sometimes in schools and is not prohibited in large parts of the US ( see also: Childhood and Adolescence in the United States ) .

Sexual abuse special position

The sexual abuse of children and the sexual abuse of wards have a special position in child abuse. This sexual abuse of children is a special form of violence. In the specialist literature, a wide distinction is made between sexual abuse of children and abuse.

In Austria, the estimates of sexual abuse of children are between 10,000 and 25,000 (as of 2004) people affected per year. This affects mostly girls.


The causes and backgrounds of child abuse are diverse. According to the two forms of state reaction, “punishment” and “help” , criminal and social causes are named.

Child abuse as a crime

Causes with criminal relevance

Child abuse occurs when fundamental legal norms are violated in the upbringing:

  • Violation of the "right to a non-violent upbringing" ( § 1631 Paragraph 2 BGB)

and particularly:

  • Violation of the prohibition of ill-treatment of those under protection ( § 225 StGB)

Examples of reasons for child abuse are:

  • Violence as a regular means of education in disregard of the applicable law
  • Punishments resulting in permanent damage to health (e.g. brain injuries due to shaking trauma)
  • Leaving out aggression on children caused outside the family, taking advantage of their vulnerability and dependency in private areas that are not socially controlled
  • Traumatizing revenge for undesirable behavior instead of child-friendly upbringing
  • Use of violence-based educational methods from other cultures in disregard of the applicable laws
  • Abuse of children by inducing them to commit criminal acts (e.g. theft) in order to take advantage of their underage
  • Sexual abuse

Causes of Incapacity and Mitigation

As with all criminal offenses, the perpetrators of child abuse can only be exonerated for the reasons set out in Sections 19, 20 and 21 of the Criminal Code:

  • According to § 19 of the Criminal Code: debt Unable are persons who have not attained the age of 14
  • According to § 20 StGB: Persons with pathological mental disorders, profound disorders of consciousness, feeble-mindedness or severe mental abnormality are incapable of guilt
  • According to Section 21 of the Criminal Code: People who have a significantly reduced ability to see or control are given mitigation

Causes of Impunity

Although there are only a few cases of incapacity or mitigation, very few child abuse is prosecuted as a criminal offense. The main reasons for this are:

  • Insufficient awareness of the population: An extremely low reporting rate means that the vast majority of cases of child abuse are not even known to the law enforcement authorities.
  • Socio-pedagogical, family therapeutic or other measures: If alternative measures are promised, in many cases of child abuse the public prosecutor's offices, referring to the RiStBV (Guidelines for Criminal Proceedings and Administrative Fine Proceedings) Section 235, will refrain from prosecution.
  • Lack of evidence: The difficult evidence that is typical of domestic violence has often led to the termination of proceedings.

Child abuse as a socio-educational problem

In the literature, risk factors are named, according to which certain moments in development, personality or life situation promote the development of abuse. According to the Berlin Senate Administration, some possible risk factors are:

child family Framework conditions / environment


  • These risk factors need not lead to abuse. There are many unemployed , single, minor, or mentally ill parents who are adequately caring for their children, and not all cry babies are mistreated.
  • One cause of violence in upbringing can be excessive demands.
  • Only in rare cases (but with particular public attention) is a particular sadism the background to child abuse. The opinion is still widespread that violence in the form of a “slap” or “spanking” “has not yet harmed anyone”. This attitude is in clear contradiction to the presented legal goals of a non-violent upbringing.

Child abuse is most common in the lower class. Christel Hopf comments on this:

“In newspaper reports on violence against children you can read that it occurs in all social classes. This is not wrong, but it distracts from a discussion of the quantitative relations. Various sociological and criminological studies show that children from the lower social classes are mistreated significantly more often than children from other classes [...] The risk of being mistreated increases particularly in the so-called fringe classes of society [...] classes with particularly low incomes, higher ones Unemployment, low level of education and particularly unfavorable housing conditions. Contrary to expectations, women are relatively often perpetrators - especially young, single mothers from the lower social classes. "

A 2012 meta-analysis by scientists from the University of Liverpool and the WHO , which evaluated 17 studies in Geneva with 18,374 disabled children and adolescents under the age of 18, also suggests that mentally and / or physically disabled children are at increased risk of being victims of abuse to become.


The detection of the consequences of injury through abuse is of great importance in the early detection systems currently being discussed. An important prerequisite for their functioning is an adequate qualification of midwives, kindergarten and school staff as well as paediatricians in recognizing the consequences of abuse.

Acute injuries

Child abuse can have a number of serious consequences for the affected child (and possibly also for siblings). These depend on the type of use of force.

Examples of typical acute injuries are:

Chronic consequences of injuries

Examples of long-term consequences of abuse are:

Consequences in adulthood

Mental stress and stress in childhood such as B. Neglect, mistreatment, abuse or witnessing war and natural disasters can result in mental disorders in adulthood (e.g. affective disorder or anxiety disorder, personality disorder, eating disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse), but also changes in the immune system or in the neuroendocrine system to have. There are also proven neurological effects of child abuse .

The severity of the consequences of violence and neglect for the aging child and the later adult is controversial. The extreme positions range from “did me good” or “my own fault” to “destroyed my life”. This is related, among other things, to the severity of what has been suffered, the situational circumstances and the possibilities for processing, but also to the fact that as you grow up, the memories of your own child's pain fade without the adult necessarily becoming aware of it. With the disappearance of the memory of humiliating feelings, for example, it can later be claimed with honest conviction that the blows of the past "did you really good" or "definitely not hurt you".

Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse

As a short-term consequences consequences are called, occur within the first two years after the sexual abuse. Under long-term consequences impacts means that last longer than two years or be delayed by more than two years. Most often they do not appear until adolescence or adulthood.

Short-term consequences

  • Somatic consequences : injuries in the genital, anal and oral areas. Pregnancies, venereal diseases
  • Emotional reactions : fear, feelings of guilt and shame, anger, hostility, self-damaging behavior, impulsiveness
  • Psychosomatic consequences : Chronic abdominal pain without physical findings, eating disorders, sleep disorders, bed-wetting, defecation
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior : Excessive curiosity about sexuality, early sexual relationships, open masturbation, exhibitionism, inappropriate sexualised behavior in social contact
  • Social behavior: running away from home, school difficulties, truancy, withdrawal behavior, hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, physical attacks, consumption of addictive substances

Long-term consequences

  • Chronic trauma : flashbacks, avoidance behavior of trauma-associated stimuli, increased level of arousal, irritability, memory lapses
  • Cognitive disorders : negative self-awareness, insecurity, low self-esteem
  • Social behavior: school failure, chronic problems in contact with peers, poor physical health, alcohol addiction, drug addiction
  • Personality change: change of identity, changed worldview


Therapies for victims

Remember the abuse

Childhood researcher Alice Miller made it her main concern in this context to point out that even without her vivid memory, the consequences of violence remain latent in the body and psyche , can develop a dangerous life of their own and begin to turn against the victim or others . To prevent this, it is important to carefully develop and remember your own authentic feelings of pain in childhood. Without remembering, access to one's own history is blocked. It is not uncommon for openness to remembering to be the beginning of a slow process that brings more and more fragments of a mosaic to light, according to their message.

Forgive and forgive

Miller's thesis is controversial, according to which forgiving and forgiving , which is aimed at in many therapies , is manipulative and rather testifies to the therapists' repressions and their own idealizations - especially in people with a religious background. The danger of forgiveness lies in the fact that the therapy process ends at the point up to which the respective therapist was able to accompany from his own personal constitution.

Trauma therapy

Methods of psychotraumatology can help to process traumatic experiences, especially intrusions such as so-called flashbacks.

Other specific therapies

Depending on the secondary illness, other forms of therapy may be useful. If z. For example, if you have developed a borderline personality disorder , it is important to conduct dialectical-behavioral therapy before working through the trauma , as working through the memories could otherwise trigger further attacks of self-harming behavior .


No violence against children: special postage stamp from 1998

Prevention aims to prevent child abuse. As is customary in crime prevention , a distinction is made according to time allocation and target groups:

  • Basic preventive measures ("primary prevention")
  • Early detection / early intervention ("secondary prevention")
  • Preventing repetition ("tertiary prevention")
  • Victim-related prevention
  • Perpetrator-related prevention
  • Activation of the social environment

Basic preventive measures

  • Dissemination of the model "Nonviolent Upbringing"
  • Creation of awareness of injustice and fear of prosecution as well as social ostracism. This function is often fulfilled by media reports on the prosecution of offenders.
  • Instructions on non-violent upbringing for risk groups (e.g. by midwives or youth welfare offices)
  • Promotion of parenting courses
  • Educational counseling and education support from the youth welfare office (family support, educational support ) and from advice centers such as child protection centers

Early detection / early intervention

Early detection should prevent continued abuse or escalation. In Germany, the coalition in power since 2005 agreed to set up early warning systems in the coalition agreement. The recognition of a hazard, which is possible as a result, enables various forms of immediate intervention:

Preventing repetition

Victim-related prevention

  • Reception facilities for children
  • Girls houses
  • Crisis telephones: Various institutions with different offers, in Germany nationwide under the number 0800-111 0 444

Perpetrator-related prevention

  • Youth protection and youth welfare services for parents who abuse or fear abuse (e.g. parenting advice, parent self-help groups, crisis hotline (see above))
  • therapy
  • Imprisonment

Activation of the social environment

  • Education of the population to identify situations of abuse
  • Encouragement of moral courage / to take action
  • Media campaigns to improve readiness to advertise
  • Awareness of the duty to help ( Section 323c StGB: "Failure to provide assistance - anyone who does not provide assistance in the event of an accident or common danger or need, although this is necessary and can be expected from the circumstances, in particular without significant personal risk and without violating other important obligations," is punished with imprisonment for up to one year or with a fine ” ).

Treatment of the topic in art (examples)

Child abuse is mentioned in the literature, among others, in "Unloved: The True Story of a Stolen Childhood" by Peter Roche . "They Called Me It," "The Prodigal Son," and "A Man Called Dave" by Dave Pelzer and " Mommie Dearest " by Christina Crawford .

The song Somewhere In the Country (1968), sung and written by Gene Pitney , tells of child abuse. The German singer Cora Lee also addressed the topic with the song and video Silent Scream (2010). The figures shown in the video are based on information from the Association against Abuse . The singer Claire performed another song on the subject with tracks , as did Suzanne Vega with Luka .

See also


  • S3 guideline child abuse, abuse and neglect with the involvement of youth welfare and education (child protection guidelines ) of the German Society for Child Protection in Medicine (DGKiM) u. a .. In: AWMF online (as of February 2019)
  • Georg Bienemann, Marianne Hasebrink, Bruno W. Nikles (eds.): Handbook of child and youth protection . Basics, contexts, fields of work. Votum, Münster 1995, ISBN 3-926549-83-1
  • Gerd Biermann, Hermann Häusler: Child chastening and child abuse Reinhardt, Basel / Munich 1969.
  • Hawickhorst, Katrin; Disclosure rights and obligations of the attending physician when they become aware of child abuse and child abuse, ZMGR 6/2012; P. 400ff.
  • ME Helfer, RS Kempe, RD Krugman (Ed.): The abused child. Physical and psychological violence; Sexual abuse; Failure to thrive; Munchausen-by-proxy syndrome; Neglect . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-518-58359-X
  • Child Protection Center Berlin: Child abuse. Recognize and help. A practical guide . 3. Edition. Federal Ministry for Family and Seniors, Bonn 1984.
  • Child Protection Center Berlin: Risks and Resources. Neglect families, child development and preventive help , Gießen: Edition Psychosozial.
  • J. Martinius, R. Frank (Ed.): Neglect, abuse, and mistreatment of children. Recognize, raise awareness, help . Hans Huber, Bern 1990
  • B. Mertens, S. Pankofer: Child abuse. Physical violence in the family . UTB Schöningh, Paderborn 2011.
  • H. Olbing, KD Bachmann, R. Gross: Child abuse. An orientation for doctors, lawyers, social and educational professions , Cologne: Deutscher Ärzte Verlag, 1989, ISBN 3-7691-0179-0
  • H. Petri: Erziehungsgewalt - On the relationship between personal and social violence in education ; Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1989.
  • Senate Department for Health, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection among other things [Hrsg.]: Violence against children and young people. What should I do? A Guide to Berlin , Berlin: 2002.
  • Alice Miller: The Drama of the Gifted Child and the Search for the True Self - A paraphrase and continuation , Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, ​​1994
  • Child abuse and neglect . (PDF; 1.3 MB) S2 guideline , status 09/2008, AWMF register number 071/003
  • Saskia Field: Bleeding Soul. The martyrdom and trauma of an unwanted and unloved child . Wagner-Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-86683-745-4
  • Siegfried Lamnek , Jens Lüdtke , Ralf Ottermann, Susanne Vogl: Tatort Familie: Domestic violence in a social context . VS Verlag 2004/2006/2012, ISBN 978-3-531-16777-0

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Violence against children and young people. What should I do? A guide to Berlin . Senate Department for Health, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, Berlin 2002.
  2. a b Carsten Spitzer, Hans Jörgen Grabe (Ed.): Child abuse. Psychological and physical consequences in adulthood . Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-17-022167-3 , p. 17f.
  3. Nonviolent upbringing. White Ring, 2017, accessed August 10, 2019 .
  4. Aaron Salzer: Emotional abuse as torturous as sexual. In: July 31, 2012, accessed September 8, 2016 .
  6. ^ Fifth report of the Federal Republic of Germany on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (PDF) BMSFSJ, August 2002 (page 79)
  7. a b Draft law to outlaw violence in education . (PDF) German Bundestag, printed matter 14/1247, 14th electoral term, 23 June 1999
  8. a b Guidelines for criminal and administrative fine proceedings, Section 235
  9. Handbook of child welfare risk according to § 1666 BGB and General Social Service (ASD) . 2006, ISBN 3-935701-22-5 ( [PDF; accessed on September 8, 2016]).
  10. Martina Julia Laura Maiorino: Parental chastisement and criminal law from a comparative perspective . Inaugural dissertation, University of Cologne, p. 104, DNB 96927596x / 34
  11. Standards and recommendations for basic and advanced training on the topic of domestic violence, in particular on the introduction and implementation of the new Protection Against Violence Act . ( Memento of the original from September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF) Federal-State Working Group on Domestic Violence, August 2002 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. Youth Welfare Act, § 8a SGB ​​VIII Protection mandate in case of child welfare endangerment.
  13. Resolution of the Federal Council for a higher binding character of the early detection examinations in the interests of the child's well-being. January 24, 2006, accessed December 18, 2015 .
  14. This is how child neglect is combated in Berlin . In: Berliner Morgenpost . January 10, 2007 ( [accessed December 18, 2015]).
  15. ^ Burden and consequences of child maltreatment in high-income countries . In: The Lancet , December 3, 2008.
  16. ^ Ruthard Stachowske: Lecture. (PDF) Regional Association Westphalia-Lippe; accessed on May 21, 2014.
  17. : Matthias Lüdecke Bremen hesitates when it comes to hair analyzes . Weser Courier; accessed on May 21, 2014.
  18. Detlef Busse, Max Steller, Renate Volpert: Suspicion of abuse in family court proceedings . In: Praxis der Rechtsspsychologie , December 2000
  19. Summary of the article "Do police crime statistics depict the bright field?" In: Kriminalistik , 2011, p. 698 ff.
  20. Police crime statistics 2005 ( Memento of the original from January 31, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  21. Domestic violence against children and adolescents and its effects. (PDF) In: Criminological Research Institute Lower Saxony. 1999, archived from the original on March 5, 2016 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  22. Protect children from violence! Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, November 8, 2000, archived from the original on September 29, 2007 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  23. Police crime statistics 2007 ( memento of the original from February 9, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF) Table 20 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  24. Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (ed.): Nonviolent education . 2003 ( [PDF; accessed on September 8, 2016]). Nonviolent upbringing ( memento of the original from June 15, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  25. Kevin. Bremen. And the consequences. (PDF) (No longer available online.) In: KomDat Jugendhilfe. October 2006, archived from the original on December 22, 2015 ; Retrieved December 18, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  26. Eleventh children and youth report. (PDF) German Bundestag, February 4, 2002, archived from the original on September 27, 2007 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  27. ^ Society without punishment remains an illusion. Fachhochschule Dortmund, archived from the original on September 2, 2009 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  28. ^ Statistics & Research. Children's Bureau, accessed September 8, 2016 .
  29. Child Maltreatment 2004 . Administration for Children and Families, Washington DC
  30. Summary Child Maltreatment 2004. In: Administration for Children and Families. 2004, archived from the original on September 22, 2012 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  31. ^ Victimization Rates by Age Group, 2004. Administration for Children and Families, 2004, archived from the original on September 23, 2011 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  32. ^ Age of Fatalities, 2004. Administration for Children and Families, 2004, archived from the original on August 14, 2011 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  33. Maltreatment Types of Fatalities, 2004. In: Administration for Children and Families. 2004, archived from the original on August 14, 2011 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  34. ^ Perpetrators by Relationship to Victims, 2004. Administration for Children and Families, 2004, archived from the original on September 26, 2011 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  35. Perpetrators. Administration for Children and Families, 2004, archived from the original on September 25, 2012 ; accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  36. Violence and abuse against children . In: Österreichische Ärztezeitung , No. 17, September 10, 2004
  37. Violence against children and young people. What should I do? A guide to Berlin . Senate Department for Health, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, Berlin 2002, p. 15
  38. Christel Hopf: Early Attachments and Socialization: An Introduction . Juventa Verlag, Weinheim / Munich 2005, p. 153
  39. ^ Prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies . In: The Lancet
  40. Nikolaus Barth: Maltreated or abused as a child: psychological consequences continue into adulthood .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF)@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  41. Consequences of sexual abuse . In: Jörg M. Fegert u. a .: Child sexual abuse - testimonials, messages, consequences. Results of the accompanying research for the contact point of the independent commissioner of the federal government for dealing with child sexual abuse, Christine Bergmann. Beltz Juventa, 2013, ISBN 978-3-7799-2264-3 , pp. 51f.
  42. Action Guide for Nonviolent Upbringing. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, archived from the original on November 6, 2015 ; Retrieved December 18, 2015 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  43. Together for Germany. With courage and humanity. (PDF) coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD. 2005, accessed September 8, 2016 .