• Germany's news in English

'We have more freedom to teach sex in schools'

Jessica Ware · 8 Nov 2013, 12:40

Published: 08 Nov 2013 12:40 GMT+01:00

“Sicher Verliebt” (safely in love) coordinator Naomi Lämmlin told The Local one of the interesting aspects of the German system was that while sex education has been a mandatory part of the curriculum since 1992, a teacher does not have to take the classes.

Nor do they have to be present if someone else takes the class – unlike in the UK, for example. This means that someone more accessible can take over – like a Sicher Verliebt student volunteer, of which there are around 300.

Sending in a someone new “means pupils can ask questions they might be too embarrassed to ask their teacher,” said Lämmlin. Talking about pornography for example – a topic discussed in depth in German schools – “is easier with someone nearer their age.”

Germany has teenage pregnancy rate way behind many other European countries and the US.

In 2008, just 16 in 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 19 got pregnant, according to government figures put together by family planning organisation Pro Familia.

Compared with a rate of 84 per 1,000 in America, and 47 and 45 in the UK and Canada respectively, Germany was only bettered by the Netherlands and Belgium in avoiding teen pregnancies.

There are hundreds students in 28 different towns and cities offering sex education for Sicher Verliebt, sitting down with 5,400 youngsters this year alone. Starting with puberty and anatomy and moving up to teen pregnancy, HIV, homosexuality, and pornography there's not much they won't tackle.

“We talk with teachers beforehand and get a feel for what they want the class to learn,” said Lämmlin. Sometimes pupils are also invited to submit questions anonymously for the guest teacher. Rarely do they get joke questions, “most are serious,” she said.

Organised by the national German Medical Students' Association (BVMD), the aim of Sicher Verliebt is not only to ease a squirming teacher's angst, but to create a more “relaxed atmosphere in which young people can learn about sexuality.”

The idea originated in Sweden and was initially focussed on raising awareness of HIV, but has become more broad ranging in Germany. “We talk about HIV with kids in the sixth grade, [when children are 11 or 12 years old],” said Lämmlin.

“They are more open-minded and curious that you'd expect,” said Lämmlin. By the ninth grade, when kids are 14 and 15, and when teen pregnancies and STDs come onto the agenda, pupils are often less receptive and often embarrassed to talk, she added.

Story continues below…

And talks can be tailored to fit the needs of particular classes and pupils - so, for example, if a gay kid is having trouble in class, the Sicher Verliebt team will talk about homosexuality and homophobia.

“We have a lot more freedom than in other countries,” said Lämmlin, adding that what was on offer was much more than simply condom guides.

She even said she did not think Germany's solid sex education programme was responsible for the low teen pregnancy rate. “Of course it's really important to explain contraception, but I don't think that alone is preventative," she said.

READ MORE: 'We have less of a problem with sex on TV'

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica Ware (jessica.ware@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Brexit vote
German stock market sees biggest drop since 2008 crash
Photo: DPA

News that British voters had opted to leave the EU led to panic in Germany's largest stock index.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd