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Germany

Hospital to Treat Potential Child Abusers

A hospital in the German capital will launch a revolutionary program later this year to treat potential pedophiles in an attempt to deprive them of the urge to prey on children. Current schemes concentrate on men who have already sexually abused children, but the treatment at Berlin's Charite hospital will target those who have sexual fantasies about children and fear they will commit abuse. "We are taking a new approach, concentrating on potential offenders," said Professor Klaus M. Beier, who leads the hospital's Institute for Sexual Medicine, as he announced the scheme on Wednesday. "Until now there has never been a therapeutic prevention which focuses on the offender. In that respect ours is a pioneering project." Men must volunteer for the three-year treatment, which is free of charge, and is due to begin on October 1. The hospital hopes that through individual and group consultations, men can learn to control their desires by developing empathy for their potential victims. "It is like training," Beier said. Jerome Braun, who runs the Berlin-based Hansel and Gretel foundation which treats children who have been sexually abused, welcomed the scheme. "There can be no better prevention than stopping men who are aware of their problem from becoming offenders," Braun said. An advertising campaign will be run to attract volunteers for the scheme. One poster says: "You are not responsible for your sexual fantasies, but you are responsible for your sexual behavior. You can get help! Don't become an offender." In Germany alone, 20,000 children are the victim of sexual abuse every year, according to police statistics.

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