The year 2021. Eleven years have passed since the full extent of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church came to light. Eleven years in which the church had to take a lot of criticism for its hesitant coming to terms with the injustice. Suddenly there is a new actor in the spotlight who accuses himself of failure and you realize: yes, the church is acting slowly, but others are even slower. For example the SOS Children’s Villages association.
Formerly custodians raise serious allegations against two employees, SOS itself made the allegations public and admitted systemic deficiencies in child protection. One of the accused children’s village mothers rejects the allegations. That the public prosecutor’s office investigates is important and good for everyone involved.
As alarming as the current reports from former SOS children are, what is known besides the internal investigation from 2010 is shocking. As a result, hurtful “upbringing” methods were named, and this too: The once authorities did a lot to keep such incidents under the covers, to keep them in the “inner circle”, also to keep the shiny SOS image clean. And what is the association doing with this report, which deals with the silence of injustice? Does he take it as an occasion for further investigation? No, he puts it in the drawer and closes it. Systematic processing of psychological, physical and also sexualised violence? So far not with SOS.
This is an indictment of poverty for this association, which claims to give children from precarious backgrounds a good future. Due to its idea of the children’s villages and the work of many women and men, it has such a good reputation that it collects many millions of euros in donations every year. In order not to endanger the work that is so important for children, SOS Children’s Villages must quickly do what abuse expert Heiner Keupp recommends: Set up an independent commission and thoroughly clarify and review the past. The fact that SOS Children’s Villages needs such advice in 2021 says a lot about the omissions so far.