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Süddeutsche News report of 16 January 2014:

If in Doubt Against the Parents

This commentary by Ulrike Heidenreich has a closing section entitled:

“Hard Tools are Used More Often”

And what are the hard tools she speaks of? Removal, taking children into care, depriving custody: these are the “hard tools” of the Jugendamt. She reports that 40,200 minors were taken out of their parents custody in the year 2012. The causes (in translation):

The most common reason for this was completely overburdened mothers and fathers. Experts attribute the excessive demands on the parents, to, among other things that the whole of society has increased in uncertainty on how to educate children properly. And the most insecure are probably also the most overtaxed parents.*

In 2011 in Germany 37,675 children were taken into custody. Year by year then, in growing numbers, “over one hundred children per day are abruptly removed from their parents and put in psychiatric clinics, shelters, or foster families…the Association of Children Shelter estimates that 300,000 to 350,000 children are permanently being cared for out of their parents’ houses.“*

Why has society become insecure about how to raise children? Certainly the answers are complex and many-sided, but clearly they point back to changing values. Which ones are now good and which values are now bad? Have good and bad changed places? That would make everyone very insecure.

We would offer the Biblical answer that love has simply been outlawed. Their conscience tells them truly that love is not hate, but the government tells them forcefully that love is hate. This is what banning spanking — taking away parental authority to discipline — means. This is what both the Old and the New Testaments state:

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24)

From the New Testament:

God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. (Hebrews 12:7b-9a)

Paul could not even imagine a day such as ours when fathers would not discipline sons! Nations and eventually a world of illegitimate children will create a world beyond our imagination, too. You can see a foretaste of it in Sweden and the other nations that have banned spanking. They have far higher crime rates than nations like America where parental authority is still honored. In at least the case of Sweden, they have far more child abuse. The more time passes the worst the fruit of banning spanking becomes.

However, there is another cause, secular in nature, that has been raised by the Brazil-German Bilateral Seminar on Human Rights.  In the “Current Situation of Children and Adolescents in Germany,”* (printed in Portuguese, German, and English), Jacy Raduan-Berger writes of the large and growing difference between “objective” and “subjective” measures of children’s well-being (based on the UNICEF study published in April 2013).

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Jacy Raduan-Berger testifying with Senator Eduardo Suplicy of Brazil.

Germany, which still occupies the 5th position in the overall ranking, has reason to worry, because one child out of every seven is considered dissatisfied with his own life, a result which places the country in 22nd place in the aspect of life satisfaction. In relation to relative poverty, i.e., the material well-being, Germany currently holds the 11th position, up two positions compared to the previous study, which means an intermediate position.

The fact is that, despite the apparent improved living conditions, the way children and adolescents feel in Germany is very bad and is getting worse all the time. In no other industrialized country is there such a great gap between the objective factor and this subjective factor.

The rest of her essay is devoted to explaining why this “great gap” exists. The gap between the seeming factors of “happiness” and the observed “unhappiness” of German youth is real. This develops into insecurity for Germany’s young adults, especially those not so well off. Not well off enough to fight legal battles, that is. It’s an interesting story…

Unlike any other

Raduan-Berger first gives the reader knowledge he almost certainly doesn’t have — the extent of the Jugendamt’s power over children in Germany. It is unlike any guardianship, any child services agency, in the whole world. It can act without court order and freely practices “after the fact” (of seizure) searches for “evidence” to justify its brutal actions.

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“The Jugendamt was organized in the post War period to provide aid for children and teens in need, many of them orphans of war; they needed to be housed in new homes. Currently there are no more orphans of war in Germany, but the Jugendamt endures. Unlike the rest of the world, Germany has created a Guardian Council that is not subject to administrative or technical control of any superior body, i.e.. it is independent and autonomous.

The existing law, SGB VIII, which regulates the rights of the family, also allows the Jugendamt, in the name of the well-being of the child, to make any intervention on the family without judicial order. Thus, the Jugendamt is incredibly powerful and acts as “Political Judge.

“This is therefore an even greater power than the power of the police. The last one, for example, needs to obtain a court order to enter into a residence and effect a search and seizure, while the Jugendamt can enter the residence of a family without a court order, without even an expert report, and take a child under the claim that he/she could be at risk with their parents. This not rarely leads to alleged pre-caution and to the search of evidences justifying such brutality in order to obtain judicial approval of such an arbitrary act.”

Like any powerful institution that deals with so many individuals, the Jugendamt is prone to defending itself in the face of flagrant violations of its own rules and even of human rights.

“Unfortunately, mistakes and abuses of power have been found relating to these actions to help children and adolescents taken by the Jugendamt, in the name of the well-being of the child, but actually the employees defend their own interests and those of the German social policy.

Such abuses are evident and violate the human rights of children and adolescents, as well as of the parents and have been brought to the attention of the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights for many years now.

A policy of mass removal of children from their families

The government controls, quite literally, children and adolescents in Germany. Young families feel and fear that control, which coincidentally, is a source of immense financial gain for the Jugendamt:

“The control is exercised in a way that young families feel under pressure and have constant fear of the Jugendamt and can not freely raise their children.

Suffice to say, a false anonymous report to the Jugendamt is enough for a family to lose their children for many years.

“Either for financial reasons or convenience, the fact is that the Jugendamt is increasingly prioritizing the policy of mass removal of children from their families to put them in shelters, foster families and adoption at a cost of about Euro 4,000.00/month up to 7,000.00 Euro/month per child, with an annual cost exceeding 20 billion Euros/year.”

And what of the “distressed families” Ms. Heidenreich speaks of? How does the Jugendamt help them? When they ask for help, which they can only receive if they are “overloaded,” what happens? Well, their children are taken away…

For example, a mother who requires the help of a housekeeper or nanny twice a week, is often considered overloaded. In order to justify her request for help she says that she is overloaded. One of the most frequent justifications of the Jugendamt to remove a child from the family is the fact that the mother is overloaded. Thus, she loses her child.

In America this is called a “Catch 22” situation. In Europe one might say it has a “Kafkaesque” nature. So not many ask for help anymore. Is the following fact then any surprise?

Germany has the highest number of psychiatric beds in the world…

Here’s a big part of the reason why:

“One of the worst situations one might experience in life is the loss of a child. Soon after the removal, experts analyze parents and label them unfit to raise their children in an individual and subjective analysis, by presenting psychological disorders justifying removal.

In most cases, the reports are only made after removals to justify them. Families complain that these reports are biased and partial.

This is exactly what we have experienced too, no contact before the Raid and biased, partial treatment after it. Raduan-Berger continues:

“Families, who lost their children that are suffering from severe depression and have to undergo psychiatric treatment, often do not recover, and can even never be able to work again. Germany is the country with the largest number of psychiatric beds in the world, probably because the demand is so high. Children that were removed unnecessarily from their families and have lived in shelters, suffer from strong psychological disorders and are more likely to use drugs and commit crimes and suicides. Associations of former inmates know this problem well and are asking for the closure of shelters.”

This is exactly what our children have to look forward to…unless they are returned to their parents.

Financial comfort will never replace the love and affection of a family and it will never repair the damage caused in families that have had the displeasure of being “helped” by the Jugendamt.