Around 30 terabytes of child pornographic material are said to have been secured from the man from Wermelskirchen, who is at the center of the latest abuse scandal. As always after such finds, the question arises that has not been answered in previous cases: How can something like this be prevented in the future?

It is surprising that one of the most obvious measures is still a long time coming. So far, neither the public prosecutor’s offices nor the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) have ordered the deletion of child pornographic material that they come across in the course of their investigations.

Fortunately, they manage time and again to confiscate the servers of Darknet forums and bring their operators to court. But the actual files, which are only linked in these forums but are stored on the free Internet with common file hosters due to the sheer volume of data, remain available.

These filehosters don’t even know what they have stored there and are ready to delete it without any ado if they are informed accordingly.

The fact that the BKA does not take on this task as a natural part of averting danger and protecting victims is justified there with the reference to a lack of powers – as if every informal communication to a file hoster required a legal basis.

The federal government confirmed this view in March and saw the public prosecutor’s office as a duty, which in turn referred to the BKA. As a result of this confusion of competences, hundreds of thousands of child pornographic contents remain available.

This situation appears completely bizarre when contrasted with the developments at European level, where new forms of surveillance are currently being discussed to achieve the same goal, with foreseeable huge collateral damage to the confidentiality of communication between innocent citizens.

And as far as the abuse itself is concerned, more could be done. Violent and sexual offenses against children will be just as difficult to eradicate as against adults.

But better prevention and education work, which begins in kindergarten, could at least help affected children to turn to people they trust quickly and decisively, so that a one-off attack doesn’t turn into years of martyrdom.