Child abuse could increase under the new restrictions imposed on public life due to the coronavirus outbreak, the German government’s Independent Commissioner for Child Sexual Abuse Issues warned on Wednesday.
For children and adolescents, the restrictions could mean that abusers “can carry out acts of sexual abuse without friends and family noticing,” said Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig.
“It’s more important now than ever to not look away, but to act” in the cases of a “strange feeling” or an incident, he said.
Cases of ‘endless suffering’
Abusive behavior within the family is often uncovered through schools or clubs, he said. With these institutions closed for the time being due to the coronavirus outbreak, “there could be scenarios in which girls and boys will be abused for an unforeseeable length of time without any prospect of help.”
“In times of coronavirus, protective social proximity and responsibility can’t be given up,” Rörig said, and called on citizens to report suspicions of abuse to the authorities.
The commission’s appeal to the public came a day after Germany’s Federal Criminal Police revealed a 65% spike in crimes related to images of child abuse between 2018 and 2019.
The statistics reveal “endless suffering for children and adolescents due to sexual abuse” in 2019, Rörig said. It is a clear sign that efforts up to now have been marginal and aren’t enough, he added.
If you are in Germany and experiencing violence and need confidential advice, call Hilfetelefon’s central helpline in Germany at 08000 116 016 or visit hilfetelefon.de.
kp/rt (AFP, epd)
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