Dresden: School fires in Dresden are a dangerous competition on the Internet





Fires in the Dresden school are a dangerous competition on the Internet

Again and again there are fires at the school site in Johannstadt. According to the city, this is a trend of social networks.

By Nora Domschke and Julia Vollmer

5 minutes

In January in the 101st Pfotenhauerstraße high school there was a fire in the school bathroom.  Now the firefighters have had to move there again.

In January in the 101st Pfotenhauerstraße high school there was a fire in the school bathroom. Now the firefighters have had to move there again.
© Roland Halkasch

Dresden. At 11:45 the firefighters had to intervene. At the Pfotenhauerstraße school site, shared by the Johannstadt High School and the 101st High School, a fire occurred on Monday afternoon. Again.

According to police, three cardholders were set on fire in a toilet. The flames also damaged the partition walls of the cabin. A school worker managed to put out the fire before the firefighters arrived. The damage to the property is still unclear. During the first investigation, a 14-year-old was suspected of setting the rolls of paper on fire. Police are investigating for arson. It was not the first time that there was a fire on the school site.

In this report you will learn:

  • What’s behind the multiple fires in the Dresden school?
  • Why can TikTok become so dangerous?
  • What sanctions do arsonists face?

What’s behind the multiple fires?

According to the Mayor of Education Jan Donhauser (CDU), there have already been three fires in the Pfotenhauerstraße school this year. Three fires were also reported in 2021.

According to Donhauser, the cause was arson. “These events are suspected to be related to the ‘Devious Licks Challenge’ on the Internet platform Tiktok, which involves the theft and destruction of school property and arson by students,” she says. The fire and disaster agency also drew attention to this. Challenge stands for competition and challenge. The city does not know the phenomenon from other Dresden schools. “There are no obvious connections to the Tiktok Challenge in other fires. A pattern can only be seen at the Pfotenhauerstrasse school site.”

Asked what the city had done so far to counter this, Donhauser said smoke detectors had been installed, which also caught fire. “Because of this, the fire could be extinguished quite quickly and prevent further damage,” he points out. However, no further measures can be taken in the health wing, but they must continue to rely on smoke detectors and school communities, who cope with this repeated incident and are very careful.

Green party leader Agnes Scharnetzky is now calling for better media education concepts from school teachers and social workers. “It is your responsibility to actively seek dialogue with students about problem phenomena in social networks. This also includes Tiktok challenges that require property damage.” Left-wing city councilor Anne Holowenko points out: “Arson is not a fashionable challenge, but a serious criminal offense and can cost lives. If you accept personal injury and property damage to make yourself interesting on the Internet, a red line it is clearly outdated. “The expansion of school social care and the widespread use of smoke detectors in school buildings is urgently needed.

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Why can it be so dangerous?

Professor Veit Roessner, Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Clinic, knows about these Tiktok challenges. “I would not speak of an appeal, but of ‘contagious tendencies’, which several times result in a wave of imitators and sometimes even more violent statements, especially among young people”. Affected children and young people often come to him as patients due to the problems and helplessness of adults such as parents, schools and police.

To his knowledge, the so-called “Devious Licks Challenge” is based on a video from a user in Great Britain. In early September last year, she uploaded a video proudly presenting his loot, a pack of disposable crown masks, which he claims he stole from his school. The clip then went viral on the internet and the theft became a challenge in its own right. Users then posted the theft of increasingly sensational items they actually or allegedly stole under the hashtag “#Devious Lick”. “Then there was property damage and finally other destruction and arson. And unfortunately now this is happening in Germany too,” says Roessner.

But why do young people commit themselves? “Particularly in adolescence, tests of courage, including bragging and comparisons, have always been an elementary part of the search for identity,” explains Roessner. “To train various skills such as assertiveness and to know its market value and its place in a ranking system”, observes the expert.

Since young people in general and especially when they outweigh each other often misjudge risks, such a trend could become truly dangerous. “And when it comes to arson, the line of potentially life-threatening uncontrollable danger has definitely been crossed,” Roessner points out.

Professor Roessner advises parents and teachers to have an authentic speech on the subject. However, some parents and teachers are not taken seriously by young people and are unable to connect with them. “It is therefore difficult for them to convey the real dangers and serious consequences of such behavior for the victims, but also for the individual young person”.

What sanctions do arsonists face?

Related articles

Arson at the Dresden high school: a 14-year-old suspected

If the suspicion of an alleged perpetrator is confirmed, a court will decide on his conviction. At the end of 2019, for example, the Aachen regional court sentenced a 15-year-old to four years in prison on seven counts of serious arson and two counts of attempted murder.

Among other things, the student had set fire to a high school because he wanted to avoid a parental party. In this case, the fire could not be extinguished that quickly and the damage caused millions of people.

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