Oberbergischer Kreis declares war on sexual violence against children

Oberberg – All five youth protection offices and the four responsible counseling centers in Oberberg enter into a cooperation agreement to expand the counseling – 4.5 new offices will strengthen prevention.

By Peter Notbohm

A rule of thumb says that children who have been victims of sexualized violence must contact at least seven to eight adults before they are listened to. Deeds often remain undiscovered for a long time, and only a few of those affected manage to talk about what they have experienced. The number of unreported cases is similarly high. Abuse complexes, most recently in Bergisch Gladbach and Münster, but also most recently within the Catholic Church in Gummersbach, repeatedly cause a huge social outcry.

To combat this situation and meet the existing great need, all five youth care offices and the four responsible counseling centers in the Oberberg district (nina + nico, psychological counseling center Herbstmühle, house for all and psychological counseling center in the Oberberg district)) signed a comprehensive co-operation agreement Expansion of the counseling and coordination structures in the case of sexualised violence against children and young people in the Oberberg region. For this purpose, funds were acquired for 4.5 new positions from the NRW Ministry of Children, Family, Refugees and Integration (MKFFI).


“The offer should be used nationwide and as needed throughout the district. It must be accessible locally, quickly and professionally, but also with low-threshold access, ”Ralf Schmallenbach (photo), head of social health in the Oberberg district, emphasized at today’s press conference. The support could be applied for on the basis of the new NRW Child Protection Act, which has been in force since 1 May, to expand the specialized counseling structures and offers in this area, to create further and coordinate them with another to enable a uniform approach to the subject. Specialized counseling structures should make it easier for victims and their families to receive psychosocial counseling and therapy services tailored to their situation.

Schmallenbach is happy that the voted state government still has the law on the way, but at the same time called it a compromise due to some gaps: “And child protection must not tolerate any compromises!” by Birgit Steuer, Head of the Coordination Office for Social Development in the Oberberg District, joined together when we created the concept: “We want to set standards and show that this is where music will play in the future when it comes to protecting children . ” Counseling structures: From diagnostics, counseling and therapy to preventive services, networking activities and steering groups.

Thomas Hein, head of Gummersbach’s youth welfare office, also stressed that they wanted to go a step further than the state government intends: “We want a joint action plan for the protection of children.” He reported that all youth welfare offices in Oberberg were dealing with many cases, sexualized and dealing with normal violence. In Gummersbach alone, there are ten to 20 serious cases each year, but that says nothing about the number of unreported cases. The biggest problem is the long waiting time for the victims, which could only be helped after six months due to lack of specialists. He sees it as a great advantage that the counseling centers are now being strengthened by the newly created posts.

Of course, it is not known whether the number of seven-eight contact points can be reduced, says Ludger Sändker, head of the Herbstmühle psychological counseling center in Wipperfürth. With the expansion of the positions, however, the preventive part could be significantly expanded. “We need to see better, hear better and do things earlier,” he says. Herbstmühle was also awarded the contract to set up the regional office of Cologne’s government district. She will act as a liaison between the head office in AJS Cologne and the new offices in the counseling centers in the administrative district and will primarily be responsible for the information, education and public relations work on the subject in the region.

Olaf Hesse, head of the district’s psychological counseling center, also hopes to be able to combat another statistic: According to this, in every school class at national level, there must be one or two children who have already been subjected to sexualized violence. “We want to illuminate this dark field so we can get these kids to speak up.” With the preventive offers, however, it is also the goal to instruct children so far that they can ‘say no’ and defend themselves.

Dagmar Steinmann, CEO of nina + nico, sees it the same way: We need to go more to school and also train teachers so they can see when children change their nature. When the association started in 1999, they still had 40 cases. During the Corona lockdown, there were 250. ”We have dared to do a lot in recent years, but not because it would have gone beyond our limits. You have to catch everything you kick off. ”

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