R.anya Funke, teacher at the rainbow school in Sarstedt, met Luca shortly after starting school in summer 2019: a small, tender boy who was always happy. But Funke soon had his first doubts: Luca’s mother always brought him to class in the morning and picked him up immediately after the fourth lesson. Like the other children, he was not allowed to play in the school yard during the second big break. Funke also noticed that Luca was missing a lot. “Between school enrollment and the autumn vacation, he was only about half the time in school,” she says as a witness before the district court in Hildesheim, “and when he was there, it was always about eating. He begged classmates and the elderly in the schoolyard and literally crammed the food into himself. “
The school social worker and Funke spoke to Luca’s mother. “We told her he should bring more food to school and be absent less,” she says. Luca, whose name is actually different, actually brought more food with her, but kept begging. When she asked why he continued to beg, he said he had to bring the food back home in his lunch box – his mother wanted it that way.
“We then bought a box with muesli bars and rusks especially for Luca,” says Funke. But his mother explained to her that she did not want that: “Because sweets make him jittery and she suspects he is sick because he is so thin. And she’ll go to the doctor with him. “
His face was sunken
After the autumn break, Luca looked even thinner than before, “he looked downright sunken,” says Funke. The school switched on the youth welfare office, and a family helper went in and out of Luca’s home from February of last year. The school’s counseling teacher made an appointment to meet Luca’s mother, but because of the first lockdown in March 2020, it no longer took place.
“Due to the closure of schools and daycare centers, many people who could have given evidence of child abuse have disappeared,” says Martina Huxoll-von Ahn, deputy managing director of the German Child Protection Association. She and her colleagues pointed out very early last year that “it is not possible to keep daycare centers and schools closed and furniture stores open”. And the then Family Minister Franziska Giffey warned at the beginning of the first lockdown that there would be “more domestic violence”.
But their calls faded, although there were even studies that put the misery of the children into words: In the violence protection outpatient clinic of the Berlin Charité, almost a quarter more children with fractures and strangulation marks were presented in the first half of 2020 than in the previous year. The youth welfare offices received fewer reports than usual in the same period – because of the lockdown. The police crime statistics recently revealed that violence against children has really increased significantly in the past year: the number of children killed rose by a quarter to 152, the last time the figure was in 2013. The number of reports of child abuse also increased – by ten percent to almost 5,000.