Writen by Bernd Siggelkow, the founder of a Berlin youth centre, “Germany’s Sexual Tragedy: When Children Stop Learning What Love Means,” describes shocking examples of childhood exposure to sex and pornography, including a 17-year-old who has had 51 lovers, a 12-year-old who invited boys over for sex games, and teens who share lovers with their parents.
“The children cannot mentally organize so much sexual information. The rift between physical and mental sexual maturity is growing,” Siggelkow said, adding that he fears this will increase teen pregnancy and create a more violent and commitment-phobic generation.
Siggelkow, who set up the Arche youth programme in Berlin’s Hellersdorf district, describes 30 true stories of children he has worked with at the centre. Most of these children have single parents who struggle with unemployment and other social issues. Siggelkow describes eight-year-olds who watch pornography with their mothers, and 14-year-olds who pass their lovers on to their mothers.
He criticizes readily-available pornography, mothers who teach children that their bodies are their most valuable capital and that frequent sex is a measure of life success.
But the Federal Centre for Health Education (BzgA) denies that such cases are part of a mass phenomenon in Germany. The most recent survey on youth sexuality found that only 10 percent of children younger than 14 were sexually active, said BzgA spokesperson Marita Völker-Albert. The age when young people lose their virginity has also remained constant since the 1990s, she added.
Siggelkow also writes that contraception is a foreign word to the youth at the Arche centre – citing children who think that drinking warm cola or running around the block will prevent pregnancy. He warns that teen pregnancy is on the rise, but Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) numbers show that 2007 had the lowest rate of pregnancy for girls younger than 15 since 2000. Abortion rates have also remained steady.
But the BzgA does not discredit Siggelkow’s observations entirely. “It is a problem in society as a whole, especially within difficult social milieus,” Völker-Albert said. Socially neglected families have problems with alcohol, drugs, media consumption, nutrition and also sexuality,” she said. “But there is no serious study that confirms a trend toward sexual depravity.”