U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Social Change and the Protection of Children (From Verbrechensopfer, P 397-414, 1979, Gerd Ferdinand Kirchhoff and Klaus Sessar, ed. - See NCJ-72716)

NCJ Number
U Wittenhagen
Date Published
18 pages
The position of the child in society, the form and limitations of assistance to children in West Germany, and social services provided by the Child Protection Center in Berlin are discussed.
Social work to protect children presumes awareness of children as a special social group separate from adults. As a result of social changes, children have become dependent on social institutions, especially the family for protecion and satisfaction of various needs. Certain conditions under which the modern family lives afect the treatment of children. Families tend to be isolated from an extended family system, subjected to growing financial pressures, geared to material consumption, and faced with challenges to patriarchal structures and destabilized marriage. Parental force has shifted from a means of childrearing to a sign of parental helplessness. The German family protection system is intended to aid families in dealing with internal problems, but it suffers from lack of coordination and of appropriate means for intervention. The situation is further aggravated by the isolation of problem families, agencies' inability to recognize families at risk, and social workers' lack of training and dealing with abuse. Frequently social workers' sympathy with children and anger with parents as well as social workers' heavy work load make meaningful family counseling impossible. Legal regulation of child abuse situations tends to separate children from their familiar surroundings, placing them in an even more confusing situation; to discourage parents who are painfully aware of their own shortcomings; and to disrupt even more family situations characterized by unsolved problems. The Berlin Child Protection Center provides an institutional alternative. Emphasis is placed on multidisciplinary therapy-oriented family assistance and voluntary treatment. Assistance takes the form of crisis intervention, family counseling, research, and continued education for concerned professionals. A children's living group with temporary shelter for abused children is also planned. Notes and a 21-item bibliography are supplied.