Education Minister Bans “Original Play”

At this club, adults play with children in kindergartens and schools on mats on the floor. Experts see this as an invitation for pedophiles and child abuse.


On Wednesday, 6 November, Education Minister Iris Rauskala issued a decree officially banning the association from schools. However, this only applies to Bundesschulen (“federal schools”) that are under her responsibility; Kindergartens and elementary schools are administered by the Gemeinden (municipalities) and Länder (federal states).

The adult men and women crawl on all fours on the ground, while young girls and boys roll around on mats in front of them. One of the women claps her hands with a child. Another one lifts a girl into the air and gently lets her sink again. But when one of the boys crawls wildly on a man’s lap and he tickles the child, laughing, it is at this point, at the latest, that uneasiness sets in.

At courses of the association “Original Play”, adults who are strangers to the children play with them in kindergartens and schools on the floor. They wrestle, tickle and touch each other, smell each other and roll over mats together. For experts, the whole concept could be an “invitation” to pedophiles and abuse.

Invitation to attack children

“For me, this is an invitation to attack children,” said trauma expert Michaela Huber to the ARD magazine. The child psychiatrist Karl-Heinz Brisch, who works in Salzburg, demanded legal consequences: “This association must be banned immediately because it seeks physical contact with children in a protected situation in an undifferentiated and completely uncontrolled manner.”

One of the biggest criticisms is that it is strangers who cuddle up with the children, not the people the kids know, and that you can take part in training sessions with children after just a few short seminars.

  • On the homepage of “Original Play” it says:

“Original Play goes back to the play of small children and wild animals. Their game knows no rules and no mistakes, no fight and no competition, no winning and no losing, no strong and no weak, no exclusion and no fear.

Their play is a gift of creation that has been lost to us adults in the gears of society and everyday life. Our need for touch and connectedness has remained.

In Original Play, we rediscover this gift. Original Play enables all children, adolescents and adults to live together in love. It enriches our lives and expands our possibilities for action.”

Allegations in Germany

In Germany, there have already been investigations into allegations of abuse by parents. However, the investigating authorities discontinued the proceedings after a short time because the children were too small, and parents not believed.

In Bavaria and Hamburg, authorities are now officially warning schools against the association, according to reports on ORF. The association is also active in children’s elementary schools and kindergartens in Austria. Here, people were largely ignorant of this method initially, as joint research by ZIB2 and ARD revealed.

But once the research became known, there were consequences.

Warnings against Original Play

In Lower Austria the association is no longer allowed to operate, and Vienna has recommended kindergartens and schools to discontinue existing cooperation.

Upper Austrian Education Director Alfred Klampfer wants to examine the situation carefully and recommends that schools stop working with the association, at least for the time being.  Organizations in Vorarlberg and Salzburg now officially warn against “Original Play”.  Austrian organizations like “Die Kinderfreunde” and “Diakonie”, which have worked with them so far, will not continue to do so.

Original Play itself wants to draw up a child protection directive – at the request of the “Liga für Kinderrechte ” (League for Children’s Rights).

On the company’s homepage there is now a note that says among other things: “We condemn any form of abuse and violence and understand that there can be zero tolerance for it. Rest assured that our first interest is always in the protection of children.”

(Foto credit: Original Play Video)

Julia Seidl
Julia started out at "Die Presse." She went on to study "Journalism & Media Management" in Vienna and worked for several local news outlets such as ORF, Kurier and Falter before joining Metropole as online content and social media manager.

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