At least 15,000 minors were the victims of sexual abuse in 2019, over 1,300 more than the year before. German police officials are concerned that the coronavirus restrictions will lead to a further spike.
Germany reported a large increase in the number of cases of sexual violence against children in 2019, new police statistics released on Monday showed.
According to the figures, 15,936 cases of sexual violence against minors were reported last year, compared to 14,606 the year before. They also noted 12,262 reported cases of child pornography, a huge jump from 2018 and over double the number reported in 2016.
"Sexual abuse is also a pandemic; a pandemic on a dramatic scale," the federal commissioner for abuse Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig said. He pointed out that one quarter of cases of sexual abuse against children are carried out by members of their immediate family.
Federal police chief Holger Münch was quick to point out that the effects of coronavirus restrictions on public life were not reflected in the figures, as they refer only to 2019. Experts say that school closures and parents and guardians spending more time with children, is likely to cause an increase in abuse against children.
Münch also warned that the figures should be treated cautiously as the real numbers may be much higher.
"The number of unknown cases is large," Münch said. "We don't yet know if the coronavirus restrictions will lead to a further increase."
Meanwhile, the number of killings of children under the age of 14, including murder and manslaughter, decreased from 136 in 2018 to 112 in 2019. The majority of these deaths were of children under the age of six, predominantly owing to negligence.
Police also released statistics regarding the perpetrators of the crimes. The statistics show that up to 90% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are male and around 75% of victims female.
Many of those found to have shared child pornography images were minors themselves, a problem caused by the changing use of technology to share images and videos, police said.
German child abuse inquiry
If you are in Germany and experiencing violence and need confidential advice, call Hilfetelefon's central helpline in Germany at 08000 116 016 or visithilfetelefon.de