Suddenly the Child Is Dead – Why Youth Welfare Services Fail

NDR/ARTE, 2013, 52 min.

Their names are Chantal or Zoe, Bastien or Marina. Again and again, children in Germany and France die virtually under the very eyes of the youth welfare services. The reflexive response of the general public is outrage and perplexity – while the welfare services involved generally curl up defensively. The public never hears about the conditions under which youth welfare services operate, or the problems and challenges faced by German and French authorities.

In fact, Germany’s expenditure on child and youth welfare has been rising for years – from 5.1 billion euros in 2001 to 7.5 billion in 2010. And the number of cases is also increasing dramatically: whereas in 2008 just 800,000 children and adolescents received so-called “education benefits”, two years later there were already 866,000 – an increase of about eight percent. While the German public has been sensitised to the failings of the youth welfare services since the death of two-year-old Kevin in Bremen in 2006, the case of Marina led to a similar wave of consternation in France in 2009. Since then, the threats posed to children’s welfare have been at the top of the agenda here too.

This TV documentary analyses why Chantal and Marina had to die, and shows what efforts child welfare services in Germany and France are making to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.

Written and directed by: Nadja Frenz, Michael Richter
Camera: Felix Korfmann
Sound: Matthias Doebert
Editing: Silke Olthoff
Production: Sandra Šamec, Katharina Au
Producer: Nadja Frenz
Executive Producers: Sandra Maischberger, Matthias Martens
Editorial Assistance: Cornelia Schöffler (NDR/ARTE)
Editorial: Kathrin Bronnert (NDR/ARTE)
Commissioning Editor: Ulrike Dotzer (NDR/ARTE)