The Jugendamt visited my home

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This is a difficult post for me to write because my family and I have experienced something that we would have never thought could (or should) happen to us. My SO and I have been married for four years. I am North American and SO is ethnically and culturally German---in other words from here.  We both have professional careers and are university educated I am not saying this to gloat but rather to provide a full scenario. We are very happily married, and I would be considered ‘well integrated’ considering that I speak C1 German and work in professional sector.  We are observant Roman Catholics but not overly conservative.

 

I work part time and my SO works home office two days a week while I work. Our child just turned two years old in September. Our child has been on the waiting list for a part time place at Kindergarten for two years, but the waiting list is so extensive and most kitas will not accept children under three  years old so we have never been contacted for a place.

It is ok; we are both very involved and loving parents. Our child reads, plays indoors and outdoors, does art projects with me and is learning a variety of songs and stories. I keep a detailed journal of all the stuff we have learned and done together which is modelled in the fashion of the binders that kids at kindergartens have. My child also participates in bilingual toddler group. I love being able to spend so much time with my child and I chose to work part time for this reason.

 

We would love to put our child in more activities, but Corona has suspended all extracurricular possibilities for the time being.

 

The doorbell rang earlier this week. Two social workers from the Jugendamt. They had two questions: is my child so and so and am I north American?

 

I was shocked. I asked to see their identification and they asked to see my home and my child. For whatever reason they were most keen to see my child’s room.

 

What they saw was a clean, large and comfortable single-family home. They saw our Halloween decorations, family photos, framed degrees on the wall and the marks of an observant Catholic home (crucifix on the wall, sacred heart painting.) I also showed them our child’s library and play areas.

 

This is not what they had been told and they became very apologetic and told me that whenever someone makes a report they must follow up. They said that they found no reason within the context of their visit to support the claim that had been made and so they would not open a case.

 

They were friendly and I could tell they were embarrassed to be in my home once I offered to show them around and share the basics of our very standard family life.

 

It turns out that someone anonymously called and believed that my half foreign two-year-old might be at risk of being ‘socially isolated.’

 

What in the world does that even mean for a toddler in the middle of a pandemic?

 

Of course, the person who made the report was anonymous. My SO and I have no real idea who could have done this. There are many people where I live who are openly ‘anti-foreign’. The area is very multicultural and I am sure there are many families who do actually need the assistance of the Jugendamt. There are individuals in SO’s family who have behaved in this way and neighbours who work for the government/schools---but we have no idea who exactly would lie and target us like this.

 

The social worker left her card with me and my German SO was able to speak with her personally over the phone later the same day. She reaffirmed that they found no evidence for the claim that had been made and would not be opening a file.

 

I am writing this post to understand what our rights are in this situation---can we request the original complaint? What do we have in terms of legal recourse if this should ever happen again?

 

I should know better after living here so long but it’s hard to fathom that people can judge and construct an idea about someone’s way of life in such a way that they feel they have the right to call the Jugendamt. The Jugendamt serves an important function in society but I also feel that it could be used as a tool of harassment/discrimination in cases where claims are not founded.

 

This whole ordeal has really taken a toll on my health. I am having trouble sleeping and I find it difficult to trust people. For a good hour after the visit I was still shaking. I have heard many stories about the Jugendamt but they are rarely positive.

 

Has this happened to anyone else here?

 

Please feel free to send me a PM if your story or advice is too personal.

 

 

 

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The very same thing can and does happen in the US - a neighbor dislikes you, and calls CPS (child protection services) on you for no good reason!
It's harassment, pure and simple. You beat down the report - good on you.

I am not a lawyer - better if you /your SO ask one if you can get a copy of the original complaint. On the other hand, it probably won't tell you much more than you already know. Also, the Jugendamt is not out to "get" your child - they also much prefer leaving the child with its parents and not having the next complex angry case.

 

Basically, you have to carry on with your life. Yes, there are mean people out there. That goes for any country.

 

Edit: The suggestion below of filing a police complaint about defamation if this episode repeats is a good one! Send a copy to the Jugendamt if it gets to that point.

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" tool of harassment/discrimination in cases where claims are not founded. "

No, they can't the Jugendamt visited you and found everything ok. Case settled.

Because of "datenschutz the will not give you the bane of the person so you could sue him/her.

I think it has to be anonymously. Imagine you have a neighbour, 300 pound who is tourturing his children.

Would you inform the Jugendamt when you would kbow that they would give him your name?

 

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Dude :o

 

Firstly, whoever reported you is an arse.

 

Secondly, hats off to you for having such a transparently lovely life that they walked in and accepted your awesome just like that.

 

Thirdly, as you say, we are all supposed to be socially isolated at the moment, let alone a pre-kiga toddler. Duh.

 

It takes us a week to tidy up enough to let the Schornsteinfeger in. 

 

Honestly? Some people are horrid. It is awful that someone did this to you, but you are so amazing that you have headed off all negative consequences by wowing them with your home life and child care. There will be nothing more, and if that person calls again, they will feel the rough edge of someone's tongue. The Jugendamt is not going to give you a copy of the original complaint. I am sorry I can't help with any actual knowledge about possible legal recourse if it happens again, but wanted to post and say that it is a dreadful thing that happened and I hope you can put down the burden of not-knowing-who and move on, for the sake of your health and child.

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4 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

Sorry you had to go through this. Maybe this will help you laugh it off, because you'll know what you can do if it happens again: in that case, go to your local police precinct and file the following charges gegen Unbekannt: § 187 STGB Verleumdung (defamation) and § 186 STGB Üble Nachrede (malicious gossip).

I´d give it a rest and not produce a storm in the teacup. You´d only produce lots of paperwork to no end, wasting police capacity along the way.

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6 minutes ago, jeba said:

a storm in the teacup.

 

:o being reported to the Jugendamt is not a storm in a teacup, for goodness sake. It's horrible.

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On 23.10.2020, 20:58:31, jeba said:

Being German I think you´re overreacting.

 

Being German, he loves telling other people on various threads to suck it up. :(

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OP- you sound  amazing parents and wish you all happiness in life.

The Jugendamt is there for the safety and care of children, and they are duty bound to follow up a complaint.   They seem to have been very polite and are satisfied there is no valid complaint against you.

Request a copy of their findings for your file.

 There have been too many cases where social workers have not followed up complaints, so be thankful they are there for the care of children.

Try and accept this as an unpleasant occurrence, but  continue with your lives.  

 

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9 minutes ago, kiplette said:

 

:o being reported to the Jugendamt is not a storm in a teacup, for goodness sake. It's horrible.

 

I absolutely agree with this statement, it is horrible. OP, hold your head up high when you go out, and look people straight in the eye, you have been wronged!

 

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23 minutes ago, kiplette said:

 

:o being reported to the Jugendamt is not a storm in a teacup, for goodness sake. It's horrible.

But creating paperwork for police and state prosecutor is! Does anyone really think they will make an effort to find out who called? Police will send the file to the prosecutor who will close the case as it´s not worth the effort of investigating. Taxpayer´s money is better spent elsewhere.

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2 minutes ago, jeba said:

But creating paperwork for police and state prosecutor is! Does anyone really think they will make an effort to find out who called? Police will send the file to the prosecutor who will close the case as it´s not worth the effort of investigating. Taxpayer´s money is better spent elsewhere.

 

We are taxpayers in GERMANY. For that reason, we have a right to decide how we receive the services for which we pay. Where do you pay taxes again?

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4 minutes ago, jeba said:

But creating paperwork for police and state prosecutor is! Does anyone really think they will make an effort to find out who called? Police will send the file to the prosecutor who will close the case as it´s not worth the effort of investigating. Taxpayer´s money is better spent elsewhere.

 

I guess that for the people living here and paying taxes here to worry about, and I, for one, am ok with it.

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5 hours ago, El Jeffo said:

go to your local police precinct and file the following charges gegen Unbekannt: § 187 STGB Verleumdung (defamation) and § 186 STGB Üble Nachrede (malicious gossip).

 

Take a copy and post it on the building's entry! Maybe the asshole reads it and backs off!

You can strike the names and dates, he/she will still know what it means.

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Great that this issue got resolved positively. Its quite traumatic for a parent just to imagine any one questioning their top intentions for their children. And the way you describe it, its abundantly clear that you have provided the best for your child.

 

One vague possibility i can think of for someone lodging a complaint is if you left the child unattended at home between you and your partner even for a short duration. And  then some nosey neighbour saw that and concluded, hmm if X is going out now and his/her partner is not back yet, then who is with the child? I know a case like this about the  jugendamt visiting the home on such complaint.

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2 hours ago, RajeshG said:

One vague possibility i can think of for someone lodging a complaint is if you left the child unattended at home

 

BTW, what is the age limit? 12?

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Thank you very much the responses here thus far.

 

I hope that you all are correct and we will have no more more visits. I am still in shock that this happened to us. We are a very open, normal and friendly family. Why someone felt that they had the right to do this to us is still beyond my comprehension. I do believe whoever did this did this frankly just to hurt us. 

 

I am having trouble sleeping and experiencing panic attacks at night. We love and provide for our child to the upmost of our abilities. The area that we live in is a 'socially destressed' area---very multicultural and economically hit hard by the pandemic.  That is not our family, we are a bit out of the standard in that we are married and in 'white collar' careers. I am not saying we are better--rather that we are not the standard in the neighbourhood. 

 

There are extended relatives who expressed in the past that they do not like how we are rasing our child 'culturally'---two languages, a stay at home parent, postpoining kindergarten until our child is three/four years old. I am not sure if it could have been them who made the report. 

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Do your best to find something to do when your mind starts revving because of worries and suspicions. If you can give yourself a 10-minute, 15-minute, or half-an-hour walk through your house or around your neighborhood, using that physical energy will drain the emotional efforts to figure out who was behind the Jugendamt visit. Or cull your wardrobe, empty and rearrange dresser drawers, or clean the oven.

With time this will become the half-forgotten and disregarded past.
 

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2 hours ago, expatparent said:

I do believe whoever did this did this frankly just to hurt us. 

That´s not necessarily the case. It might have been a genuinely false estimation.

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3 hours ago, expatparent said:

There are extended relatives who expressed in the past that they do not like how we are rasing our child 'culturally'---two languages, a stay at home parent, postpoining kindergarten until our child is three/four years old. I am not sure if it could have been them who made the report. 

 

Envy and jealousy are powerful motivators. I wouldn't waste too much mental energy with whodunnit though. You can easily swing and miss, or start to mistrust innocent friends, family, neighbours. Whoever reported you will fume more if they see you thriving, so thrive. I would make sure everyone I knew heard what happened and that the Jugendamt not only found nothing but were apologetic for having come, as it was clearly a malicious report. And that you yourself filed a police report over 'false witness'. If you have a frenemy in your midst, they will get the message.

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