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Knife attacks on par with larger cities: Bonn forms network to prevent youth violence

Knife attacks on par with larger cities : Bonn forms network to prevent youth violence

The City of Bonn is working with the University of Marburg to develop a concept for youth violence prevention. While the administration sees positive results for the interim, there are concerns about increasing knife attacks by youth and young men.

The City of Bonn is zeroing in on youth violence, developing a prevention concept together with the University of Marburg. After one year, the city sees positive results.

Compared to other cities, Bonn does not show any anomalies so the emphasis is on prevention. At the same time, Bonn has shared the spotlight with much larger cities when it comes to violent crime. In July, the prevention concept is to be presented to politicians and city administrators.

Many initiatives but “not always coordinated”

It was the violent death of the teenager Niklas Pöhler in May of 2016 in Bad Godesberg city center that tipped the scales. A "Round Table Against Violence" was subsequently established, with members developing a violence prevention concept for all of Bonn. The measures target both physical and psychological violence. According to Udo Stein, director of the Youth Welfare Office, there have been an "impressive number" of people and initiatives in Bonn, but they were "not always coordinated".

Besides the University of Marburg and the Youth Welfare Office, the Bureau of Education and Bonn police are also on board. Around 750 organizations and institutions - from kindergartens and schools to churches and youth clubs - were invited to take part in an online survey. As well, background discussions were held with the various institutions. Networking is key, "Only together can violence prevention succeed", said Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan.

Youth crime statistics

According to Udo Stein, the interim results available for Bonn - also in comparison to other cities - show that "no anomalies" could be determined. The number of cases seemed to be declining in the past years and to follow the national trend. The percentage of crime suspects under the age of 21 (3,136 persons) was just under 22 percent. According to the NRW Ministry of Justice, the number of convicted juvenile offenders aged 14 to 18 has fallen from 3,423 to 1,049 in a ten-year comparison (2006 to 2016), a decrease of more than two thirds. But authorities are concerned about repeat offenders.

The crime statistics in NRW can also be interpreted differently. Recently, the number of criminal offenses at schools in NRW rose from 25,596 (2015) to 27,541 cases; the number of assaults rose by more than 400 cases (2017: 4,343). Teachers' associations also report an increasing number of cases in which teachers are attacked, threatened or verbally insulted.

Bonn on par with larger cities when it comes to knife attacks

Meanwhile, the two major police unions are warning against more and more knife attacks by young men and teenagers and in unison they see a link to immigration. Meanwhile, the SPD in the Düsseldorf state parliament evaluated police press releases and found that there had been 33 knife attacks in Bonn just in the six months between September 2017 and March 2018. Age groups were not broken down separately. In the evaluation, Bonn is on par with much larger cities such as Cologne (39), Dortmund (31), Essen (34), Düsseldorf (32) and Duisburg (44).

A further problem when it comes to youth violence is that many victims remain silent for fear of retaliation. For that reason, part of the prevention concept now includes anonymously surveying ninth graders about their personal experiences in schools chosen at random.

(Orig. text: Rüdiger Franz / Translation: ck)