Baden-Baden children learn about the dangers of the Internet

“I didn’t know that”: This quote can no longer apply to all the students whom Reinhard Walter informed about the dangers of the Internet during his visits to schools in Baden-Baden.

Photo: Stephanie Hölzle

Whether he enjoys it is a question that does not really arise: Reinhard Walter is bursting with commitment, ideas, anecdotes and explanations. “I live for it” is his verdict on his task. Walter is a police officer in the crime prevention department of the Offenburg police headquarters based in Rastatt. In this capacity, he goes to schools, especially in Baden-Baden, and explains the dangers of the Internet.

“Each case is one too many,” he says – but immediately adds: “My colleagues can’t keep up.” And that is why he and three other colleagues visit the schools in the region: “Because we simply see the need”.

“Media dangers” is a teaching unit that the police take over in schools. And when the 55-year-old talks about investigative practices with one example after another from the region, it quickly becomes clear that the schools would do well to get the police’s offer for their facilities.

It is two school periods – usually in fifth to eighth grade. “Mostly there’s no drawing or music,” says Walter – if sports are left out of his classes, he personally thinks it’s a shame, even though the content of his teaching is very important.

Because it’s about things like secure passwords and data, the dangers of images and movies, cyberbullying, copyright infringement, hate speech and so on – and always about protecting children.

They need to realize that they are not alone online.

Reinhard Walter, Chief Police Officer

“They need to understand that they are not alone on the Internet,” says Walter. He points out that their data is stored, that they are visible, that they leave traces – and that they meet others who they may not even know for sure who it is: “I always say to them: maybe you want to chat with me tonight. and think I’m 15. The kids are so amazed.

According to Walter, there are especially many dangers lurking on social media – and virtually all children are there very early: “Snapchat, Instagram, Tiktok – it’s part of it from a certain age.” And very often children encounter things there that are harmful to who they were.

Children with mobile devices on a sofa

Dealing with the Internet starts early: Even elementary schools are already asking about media education.

Photo: Benjamin Nolte/dpa

“Where there are nudes, you are not,” Walter gives an example of how he shows and names problems in a child-friendly way. In this way, the children can learn where it is dangerous and not right for them. Because on the internet they are mostly left to fend for themselves – often already at primary school age.

“The first smartphone is usually given at communion,” says Walter. This is in third grade. So it is probably no coincidence that, according to Walter, primary schools always ask the police about media education. Walter’s personal opinion: “I didn’t really want to find smartphones until seventh grade.” But he knows it is utopian. The social pressure is there and also the requirement in many schools that digital devices must be required for teaching in the fifth grade at the latest.

With reasons, there is an understanding of controls

And what about the parents? Walter seems quite disillusioned. They are often far behind their resourceful offspring online technically, restrictions or even controls are often too lax for them. He cannot understand that: “No parent wants their child to become a victim.”

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Disputes over control or not, parents have a duty to set rules and enforce them – simply to protect the offspring. Especially because he says the kids would understand control if you justify it. When you explain to them that it is often the parents’ turn because they have signed the contracts, he has experienced that “the children then say to the checker: ‘It’s okay!'”

In any case, when there are problems, the children quickly become overwhelmed. Walter advises them to “always get their parents on board right away”.

Because it is not uncommon for these to be criminal incidents, which young people in particular are often not aware of. Videos glorifying violence are shown or child pornography is shared. Walter knows that this often happens unintentionally, but the consequences are far-reaching.

He points out to the children that there will then be an investigation, there may be a raid at home, devices will be taken away – or the dream job is gone: because anyone over the age of 14 who shares a child pornography image, for example, will have an entry in their identity card. It will be for ten years.

“And then I can’t be a policeman anymore,” says the police commissioner. “When they hear all this, I see worried faces.” To hear about the consequences of their possible actions directly from the police officer impresses the children and young people Yes – and makes them more vigilant and careful, Walter hopes, because: “There is nothing worse than when a child falls into the wrong person and being abused.”

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