Killed Luise from Freudenberg: When children do bad things
Ztwelve years. You don’t have to have children yourself to be stunned by this number, but if you have children, the shock is even greater. Luise from Freudenberg was twelve years old, one of the girls who was partly to blame for her death was twelve years old; the other was 13. At twelve you’re a child, not even a teenager, who is usually credited with more escapades, albeit not before the age of 14 or 15 – and even then hardly a murder.
Nothing is worse than the violent death of a child. The anger that is then directed at the perpetrators can also be felt this time, curses are being uttered against the girls on the Internet, who, which infuriates quite a few, are under criminal responsibility. However, if one takes it for granted that the two are actually too young and immature to be able to answer for their terrible act, then the anger may mix with pity. The tragic death of Luise and the lifelong suffering of the bereaved may sound like mockery to some, but three families and three children’s lives have been destroyed in Freudenberg. Will a mother or father ever be happy again about a good grade in school or a homemade gift when the child has taken a life?
It could have been my child
And no, nothing is meant to be explained, put into perspective or even excused. The fact that a child kills another child with a knife is in fact so abnormal and incomprehensible that it can overturn a world view. It could also have been my child: this is the thought that comes to parents every time they learn of a crime. Does it come to mind for some when it comes to the perpetrators? Not much will be known about them if authorities and the media adhere to the rules for the protection of minors, but the prognosis is not daring that they have childlike facial features, love french fries and have at least one stuffed animal in their bed. Just like most other 12-year-olds.
In the imagination of many people, the world of children is a colorful alternative to the serious, regulated adult life. Childhood should be happy and carefree, which is glorified in the same way as the children themselves. “Children to power”, demanded Herbert Groenemeyer almost 40 years ago and fantasized: “Instead of suppressing, there’s strawberry ice cream for life.” The certainly well-intentioned ballad follows the thesis that human beings are born pure and are only spoiled by the bad influences of adult society. Expelled from the paradise of childhood, one loses one’s innocence.
Strawberry ice cream and oppression
The antithesis is: Man already carries evil within himself and must first be civilized in order to learn to control it. Small children, tearing the wings off flies or scorching ants in concentrated sunlight, reinforce them. And it’s not just girls and boys who are mistreated and abused by adults who know that a childhood can be anything but paradisiacal. Hell, that’s the other children – sometimes that’s true too. Not only strawberry ice cream, but also oppression is part of everyday life for some. And don’t talk yourself into thinking it’s going to be comparatively easy. A child who is bullied by others for weeks or even months is in danger of losing the courage to face life. For someone who is bullied in this way, his tormentors should not be cocky children, but overpowering tyrants.
The topos of the bad child is not alien to culture. In Stephen King’s horror visions, children appear as heroes, victims and perpetrators. As early as 1954, William Golding had a bunch of schoolboys stranded on an island in “Lord of the Flies” and failed as an emergency community: the meek and reasonable are lost to the growing group of wild and violent people, two boys are murdered. The oldest of the children in the novel are around twelve years old.
Golding’s long-ago deeds on the distant island may not only leave those who work through the book as school reading unmoved. The deed of Freudenberg, on the other hand, whose cheerful-sounding name will be clouded over for many years, is close to our hearts. With the death of a girl by a knife in a child’s hand, another evil of the adult world has invaded the supposed shelter of childhood, which has become increasingly fragile anyway. Not least due to the Internet and social media, children today are much more confronted with questionable things than previous generations, and the parents, who are often not only technically overwhelmed, often let it run its course.
Most children, thank God, still grow up quite sheltered in this country and rarely suffer injuries worse than the proverbial bloody knees. The great social task of adults is to stand by them as confidants. This also applies to Freudenberg’s crime: whether it’s online or at school, almost all children will sooner or later hear about it, and we adults should talk to them about it. Even if we can hardly understand it ourselves.