Parents denounce alleged abuse of children

Were there physical and mental assaults on one to three-year-old children in a Grafrather crèche in 2019? But above all: Were investigations prematurely stopped? And have the authorities fulfilled their duty of supervision, as they claim? A report by the Bavarian Radio from Wednesday from the Funkstreifzug series. It is about the case of a former facility manager who is said to have insulted and abused several small children. The mother of an affected boy confirmed the parents’ allegations to the SZ on Wednesday and called for justice. The public prosecutor’s office now wants to take up the case again and hear other possible witnesses who have recently been named.

Corinna Bürk from Grafrath is one of those affected. In 2019, her two-and-a-half-year-old son attended the Rassobande daycare center in Grafrath. The mother of another child tells her that the head of the facility, who was clearly overwhelmed at the time, grabbed her son and verbally abused him. When asked, her child also reported that it had been hit on the head when it did not want to eat. Another toddler apparently said when asked that it was punished with a cold shower.

Corinna Bürk’s son was almost relieved when he found out from his mother that he didn’t have to go back to daycare after the summer holidays. In his own words, Bürk does not dare to confront the head of the facility, which is apparently also understaffed. However, she turns to the non-profit sponsoring company “Progress” based in the district of Starnberg. She finds it “shameful” that she received no reply to an e-mail in which she pointed out the attacks and was later told that the case was testimony against testimony. The facility emphasizes that there was written contact with parents and that there were opportunities for discussion at a parents’ evening. And to this day, the offer for psychological care is still valid.

Parent representatives file a complaint

In any case, Bürk feels let down. She and seven other parent representatives filed a complaint. But the investigation is slow. Neither employees who work with the accused director on a daily basis and who can report from their own experience, nor children were heard. The presumption of innocence still applies to the head of the crèche.

The youth welfare office based in the district office, as the responsible supervisory authority, sent employees to the Grafrather crèche in November 2019. As early as mid-October, the controversial manager, who could not be reached by BR for a statement, had initially called in sick and was then fired. It is incomprehensible to the children’s parents, some of whom still have mental health problems today, why it all took so long. According to the BR report, an educator who was working temporarily in the crèche at the time had already reported corresponding observations to the supervisory authority at the beginning of August. Because she feared consequences for breaching confidentiality, she did so anonymously.

Of course, the district office contradicts the accusation that it was inactive for too long. The reports in August were about an “inappropriate tone” in the facility and about team conflicts. Immediately after the summer closing time, i.e. in mid-September, the carrier was asked for an immediate statement, according to a spokeswoman on Wednesday. In a conversation on September 24, conditions for “further training and team building” were issued. It wasn’t until the end of October that a mother came forward and accused the facility manager of hitting her child and calling her a “stupid cow”. Therefore, the youth welfare office made it clear that the director, who had already been reported ill, “was no longer allowed to work alone with children” after her return. On November 5th, an unannounced check in the crèche followed. The accused director had already been fired.

Questioning children difficult

In comparable cases, carers and reporting parents would be questioned by the youth welfare office and parent surveys would be evaluated. The questioning of children is pedagogically difficult and only possible with the consent of the parents. “If they wish, kindergarten children will be questioned. Nursery children will not be questioned.” Ultimately, however, the allegations made could “neither be proven nor disproved”.

It is difficult to determine how often attacks in crèches and kindergartens occur in the district. Many parents are likely to shy away from reporting to the authorities. If their children reveal themselves to them at all. Since the incident in Grafrath and up to the end of 2022, the district office has recorded 53 reports. Mostly it was abuse among children, allegations of inappropriate pedagogical behavior and misconduct by staff towards children. “In principle, the carriers, the staff and the parents are heard in all cases. In cases of suspected abuse of staff, measures are always taken to protect the children.” Six employees in the district office take care of the supervision of daycare centers for around 204 hours a week – 26 hours a week more than in 2019.

A case that has been on record dates back a long time: In August 2003, the Montessori children’s home in Puchheim fired a teacher as a reaction to a penalty order for physical harm – the woman appealed against the decision of the public prosecutor’s office. She had been charged with two counts of assault and coercion and one count of negligent assault. At the time, employees had reported abuse of the crèche children, thereby confirming allegations by a group of parents.

Karl-Heinz Theis, the district chairman of the child protection association, is not aware of any such crimes. He can’t say anything about the case in Grafrath either. Basically, however, he has the feeling that the youth welfare office is doing “its best”, even if, according to his impression, the staff turnover there is unusually high.

Complaints office in every day-care center

Conflicts are now dealt with differently, according to the Progress organization on Wednesday. In the meantime, a complaints office has been set up in every day care center for parents. There are also professionally trained confidants for employees who want to report irregularities or worrisome observations. According to progress spokeswoman Verena Fahrion, “the case has clearly shown us again how important it is to always act transparently and, above all, to act preventively”. Since the beginning of 2020, every facility has developed a child protection concept with the involvement of parents and a child protection officer. In addition, a mobile psychological service now visits the daycare centers regularly. Any “imbalances” should be reported by the employee.

In June 2021, the Munich II public prosecutor initially stopped the investigation, which is now to be continued. A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office explained this to the SZ on Wednesday by saying that BR had presented a list of names with other possible and previously unknown witnesses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *