BERLIN ( Associated Press) – German police reported a significant increase in depictions of sexual abuse against children last year compared to the previous year, the country’s top criminal police officer said Monday.
According to a special analysis of police crime data presented to journalists in Berlin, more than 39,000 cases – or an increase of 108.8% – came to the attention of authorities last year. Those cases include the distribution, acquisition, possession and production of depictions of sexual violence against children and adolescents.
According to the report, known cases of child sexual abuse rose 6.3% last year to more than 15,500. Holger Muench, head of Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, said that while the annual figures only cover a fraction of the cases police are aware of, the actual figures are expected to be much higher.
Officials estimate that one to two students in every school classroom in Germany are affected by sexual violence.
Muench also said that more people are reporting suspicions of child abuse than ever before.
“We very much welcome this: serious acts of violence against children and youth, as the most vulnerable members of society, especially those unlawful, should be prosecuted and put to an end,” he said.
Germany’s independent commissioner on child sexual abuse, Kerstin Claus, pointed out that Europe has become a hotbed of the spread of images of abuse.
“We need to increase European cooperation and invest significantly more in the human and technical resources of the investigating authorities,” he demanded. “Every investigative success is important because it provides an opportunity to stop acute child abuse and prevent further acts.”