"Another child abuse scandal is in the German press. Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper says that up to 100 pupils at a school in Hesse may have been victims between 1971 and 1985. Odenwaldschule is an elitist, private school with famous alumni like the writer, Klaus Mann." The charges at the Odenwald School come in the midst of a major set of scandals raising the same charges against priests at catholic schools and institutions across Germany.
The claims at the Odenwald School in Hessen, Germany comes after the school was recognized many times over the decades as a model school. The school has had very innovative programs based around shared housing and a family atmosphere in a rural setting. However, the dark side of this world included ganging up on weaklings and sexual abuse of youth by adults and students there over the decades. This Odenwald School was even investigated in the 1990s, but the state of Hessen investigators had claimed that the charges were baseless.
A similar pattern of lack of oversight by the state occurred in Catholic schools and in Catholic school settings dating back to the 1950s--not only in Germany but in Austria, Switzerland and other neighboring lands.
In the cases of the Catholic Church and its European schools and monasteries, one "senior church official acknowledged [last] Friday that a German archdiocese made "serious mistakes' in handling an abuse case while the pope served as its archbishop." Likewise, the Odenwald School's "Deputy Principal, Uwe Koltzsch, can not rule out current abuse: "I can't exclude it how could I? I can only speak about my actions, and hope that children today are brought up to deal with these things more freely. To talk about these things with their parents or with others. But I can't say there has been no abuse after 1985.'"
No countries have publicly dealt with the issues of how one becomes either a "perpetrator" or a "victim" more than has Germany over the past three decades. This has been because of the Nazi-era legacies followed by the Communist Security State in what was once East Germany. However, too little focus has been given in Germany to continued secrecy and bullying in society and how victims still have too little recourse for airing their concerns. I believe these recent--but long-brewing--crimes against children and youth in German schools is the most important issue to be tackled in education. Victims need sanctuaries and a way to move on in their lives.
I believe it is no secret that the number of school shootings, school violence and attacks in German schools over the past decade are the result of years of bullying, mobbing, and possibly sexual abuses permitted for far too long. Children need sanctuaries, but they are finding it hard to locate in German schools and society. The society and schools need to provide and promote more sanctuary options.
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