Kerstin Claus is particularly concerned about one number. In a survey, 85 percent of respondents said they could not imagine that sexual abuse could take place in their personal environment.
For the new Independent Commissioner for Questions of Child Sexual Abuse, this is a fatal misjudgment. “I fight to make it visible that sexual abuse affects everyone,” she said on Tuesday when she presented the focal points of her work. Claus has been in office since April 1st.
In order to prevent abuse as far as possible, the former journalist strives for a close network of advice centers, child and youth welfare, investigative authorities and training institutions. “We need better local structures,” said Claus. In cities, the possibility of professional advice is satisfactory, “but in rural areas we still have big gaps”.
Claus also advocated protection concepts in daycare centers, schools and clubs. “In this landscape in which children move, you need expertise,” she said. “In day-care centers, schools and clubs sex education concepts have to be considered.”
She also advocated the establishment of advisory councils for those affected in the individual federal states. Involving those affected in the work is important “because victims know the perpetrator’s strategies”. Claus is himself a victim of sexual abuse.
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A multi-year education and awareness-raising campaign is to be launched in the fall, but Claus complained that funding has not yet been secured. The campaign is expected to cost around five million euros.
The new incumbent also wants much more information and data on sexual abuse of children and young people to be collected than in the past. This is the only way to effectively combat the crimes and ensure good prevention.
“It’s a scandal that in 2022 we still don’t have any reliable figures on the extent of sexualized violence against children and young people,” she said. “It is known that the number of cases recorded represents only a fraction of the actual numbers.” She spoke out in favor of setting up a national “Research Competence Center”.
Claus also wants her position to be enshrined in law as quickly as possible. “You have to define a reporting obligation, it’s about a picture of the situation, as well as processing and prevention.” A reporting obligation brings “debates into parliament”.