Child Protection

Kind sitzt weinend auf den Boden

Parents have the right and the obligation to care for their child. If they fail to do so, community and especially government agencies must protect children and young people against neglect and abuse.


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A task for society as a whole

Children must be able to develop in as healthy a way as possible. They need care and protection against all threats to their well-being. Parents are responsible for the care and upbringing of their children and must ensure that children’s fundamental rights are safeguarded. The governmental community makes sure that parents perform this task adequately.

If parents fail to fulfil their child-raising duty, governmental agencies will ensure that the children are protected against neglect and abuse. Every adult who is concerned about the well-being of a child should in the child’s interest inform the state youth welfare service. If there are concrete indications of an endangerment to a child’s welfare, the youth welfare office is entitled and even obligated to examine the living situation of the young people affected and to act accordingly.

There are two tasks for the youth welfare office that result from this protection mandate:

  1. Strengthen and support the parenting responsibility of the parents, for example, through counselling, support and assistance with parenting.
  2. Take measures to protect the child (intervention), for example, by taking custody of the child or procuring a judgement on custody by the family court.

Situations dangerous to the child's well-being

For healthy development, children and young people need the right diet, physical care, health care, emotional attention, supervision and protection as well as encouragement from their parents or guardians. A child’s well-being is always at risk if these basic needs are not met at all or not met sufficiently.

Endangerment of a child’s well-being

A child’s well-being is at risk if the behaviour of parents or other individuals in families or institutions (for example, residential homes, day care centres, schools, clinics) adversely affect the well-being and rights of a child. This can occur through active action or failure to take reasonable care. The standard for this are socially established norms and a well-founded professional assessment. The consequences can be injuries, physical and mental damage or developmental risk to a child or adolescent. Infants and young children are particularly affected.


Neglect is all types of failure to ensure necessary care. In the event of neglect, the children or young people do not receive the measures necessary for their survival and well-being or receive them inadequately. These measures include clothing, personal hygiene, medical care, undisturbed sleep, age-appropriate attention, protection and supervision by parents or caregivers, care and support. This neglect negatively affects and harms the children or young people.

Physical violence

Physical abuse is characterised by direct violence to the child or young person, in particular by hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, choking, causing chemical burns, inflicting stab wounds, exposure to cold, etc. Most physical abuse leaves visible marks on the skin.

Psychological violence

Mental or psychological violence are attitudes, feelings and actions that lead to a serious impairment of a trusting relationship between the child and their caregivers. Here the mental and emotional development of the child into an independent and life-affirming individual is hampered. Mental violence is exercised by threatening violence and neglect, yelling, insulting, mocking and debasing as well as by expressing feelings of hatred or demanding the child neglect or abuse others.

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Sexual violence

Sexual acts of violence against children or young people are all sexual acts that are committed with, on or in front of a child or young person and that serve to satisfy the perpetrator’s own needs for closeness and intimacy, power and control or sex. This includes, in particular, involving the child or young person in sexual acts, forcing the child or young person to perform sexual acts in front of the perpetrator and asking the child or young person to engage in sexual activity with or in front of others.

The brochure Ask courageously – act prudently of the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth offers information for mothers and fathers on the subject of sexual abuse of children and young people.

Domestic violence

If there are violent confrontations of an emotional, physical or sexual nature between the parents (hitting, kicking, pushing, abusing, insulting, humiliating, mocking, debasing, raping the mother), children often get caught up in or witness these actions.

Children who experience domestic violence themselves or who observe it from their relationship of dependence have their well-being placed at risk. These experiences can impair the emotional, physical and cognitive development of the children affected and under certain conditions, for example in the case of very young children or serious acts of violence, can also lead to traumatic harm.

Assistance when a child’s well-being is endangered

If you are concerned about the well-being of a child or young person, please contact the following offices personally, by phone, in writing or by e-mail – also anonymously – for a confidential consultation:

These offices are legally obligated to treat the information from the consultation and the personal data as strictly confidential. All reports that indicate that the physical, mental or emotional well-being of a child or young person is at risk will be followed up immediately. The offices will provide quick assistance in acute cases. As a precautionary measure, the causes will be clarified together with those affected. Parents will be offered counselling and specific assistance so that they become aware of their care and child-raising tasks.

If there are indications that a child’s well-being is at risk, the responsible agencies will take action immediately:

• They will follow up on information about risks to the child’s well-being and take a close look at the situation of the child or young person at risk.
• They will assess the endangerment situations.
• They will hold discussions with the family and all collaborating partners.
• They will activate family resources.

The youth welfare office will act by

• Developing an assistance and protection concept,
• Calling the family court, if necessary,
• Initiating a medical or socio-educational diagnosis and
Supporting the family by helping them with child-raising.

Emergency telephone services

Child protection crisis service of the youth welfare offices (Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

  • Child protection coordinators of the youth welfare offices and health authorities

    PDF-Document (93.5 kB)

Berlin child protection emergency service

Berliner Notdienst Kinderschutz

The Berlin child protection emergency service is a social educational institution.

The child, youth and girls’ emergency service, the contact and counselling centre (KuB) with the “Sleep In” as well as the child protection hotline are available around the clock, 365 days a year, for counselling and taking children and young people into custody.

In addition, the Berlin child protection emergency service performs child protection duties outside of the opening hours of the Berlin youth welfare offices.


Prevention is the best way to protect children against risks to their well-being. Risks that can arise in everyday family life in stressful situations must be recognised at an early stage. These families should be offered reliable assistance and support right from the start.

The assistance must be easily accessible, available at short notice and must not give the impression that the parents have failed. Because problems in families have many causes and effects, there is a wide range of different programmes. Individual support can be ensured through the cooperation of all services and facilities of child and youth welfare and health care. It is necessary for this purpose to bring together in a close and reliable way the structures of the health system and child and youth welfare services as well as other institutions that are in contact with young families in order to achieve a child protection network.


The child protection network

The protection mandate in the case of endangerment of a child’s well-being can only be borne as a shared responsibility. Close and early cooperation and collaboration between the various institutions involved improves the effectiveness of child protection The child protection network

Schwangere Frau umfasst ihren Bauch mit den Händen

Early assistance

Parents should be supported during pregnancy and especially in the first years of the child's life. During this time it becomes clear whether a stable parent-child bond can be successfully established and become the basis for the child's physical and mental well-being. Early assistance

Bildausschnitt: Hände halten schützend Scherenschnitt von einer Familie

Support programmes

Child and youth welfare has the legal mandate to counsel and support parents and other legal guardians with child-raising. The need for help for families in difficult life situations often arises where health care and youth welfare intersect. Support programmes