FORUM Sexuality Education and Family Planning
'Don't get worked up, just about anything goes during puberty' is the philosophy my 13-year-old niece established some time ago, winning her parents over with her casual charm. But calm soon disappears in families when children are growing into adults and testing the relevance of values and standards, often by going beyond the boundaries. Puberty, but in particular the living conditions, attitudes and behaviour of young people in Germany today, is the subject of this FORUM.
Information is provided about the living conditions of adolescents and young adults in the east and west of Germany, and their opportunities for participating in their communities, by the representative results of the DJI [German Youth Institute] youth survey, obtained by means of regular detailed interviews of adolescents and young adults aged 16 to 29 since 1992.
‘Young people in Germany continue to be a pragmatic generation faced by the challenge of finding security and support in what they perceive to be a difficult environment, particularly in terms of personal relationships'. This is the conclusion of the article on the 15th Shell Youth Study which, amongst other things, looks at values, generational conflicts, gender relations, attitudes to family, education and religion.
Self-image, attempts at dieting and self-harming behaviour are all covered in a comprehensive investigation from Baden-Württemberg. Young people and their parents were asked about their life situation, behaviour, risks, psychological situation and problems.
The German Health Survey of Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), carried out by the Robert Koch Institute, provides comprehensive information on the health of children in Germany. These data are used to illustrate any changes in the physical and sexual maturity of children and adolescents over time. Significantly earlier maturity, which had been anticipated, could not be confirmed by this study. Michael Schulte-Markwort, Director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychosomatics at Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital, has answered some questions about the maturing of the brain during puberty. These questions are significant in terms of behaviour during puberty and moral development during adolescence. An extensive survey of 950 young women with a migratory background asked, amongst other thing, about attitudes to and knowledge of sexuality and about the people, institutions and media involved with sex education. The results show that widespread stereotypical ideas about female sexuality of certain migrant groups, especially Muslim women and girls, do not correspond to the reality. The author considers an increased intercultural focus in sex education to be essential.
The last article deals with the process of coming-out as homosexual or bisexual and asks why this often happens long after puberty. Don’t forget to have a look at the infotheque, which provides references to further studies and up-to-date information on the key area of youth/puberty.