• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

'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
Train evacuated as passenger flips out during ticket check
Police at the scene in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

A regional train was evacuated in Leipzig on Wednesday after a passenger became aggressive during a ticket inspection.

Man arrested in Wuppertal as part of Spanish Isis raids
Police detain the suspect in Wuppertal. Photo: DPA

Police have arrested five suspected members of an Isis cell in Spain, Belgium and Germany that spread propaganda for the group online, the Spanish interior ministry said Wednesday.

Germans cut home energy usage by six percent in a year
Hamburg at night. Photo: DPA

The Energiewende is the German government's ambitious policy of drastically reducing carbon emissions. New figures show one remarkable success.

Merkel party MP under fire for using Nazi propaganda term
Bettina Kudla. Photo: Büro Bettina Kudla MdB/DPA.

A member of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party is in hot water after tweeting over the weekend a Nazi propaganda term in her criticism of the country’s refugee policies.

Govt denies planning bailout for troubled Deutsche Bank
Photo: DPA

Germany's finance ministry on Wednesday said the government was "not preparing rescue plans" for Deutsche Bank, denying a newspaper report that state aid was being considered for the embattled lender.

Munich at high risk of housing bubble: report
A view of Munich. Photo: Pexels.com

Considering buying property in Munich? This report might make you think twice.

After fatal hail storm, south Germany set to see sun
The hail storm in Baden-Württemberg on Monday night left the streets looking like a winter landscape. Photo: DPA.

A hail storm in southwest Germany on Monday night led to the death of one woman, but forecasters predict a bit more sun in the days to come.

Police shoot dead father who attacked daughter's abuser
Police at the scene of the shooting in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Berlin police on Tuesday night shot and killed the father of a young girl at a refugee home as he tried to attack a man who allegedly sexually abused his daughter.

TV celebrity criticized for claiming 70 kg is overweight
Sophie Thomalla. Photo: DPA

Model Sophie Thomalla claimed that promoting models who weigh over 70 kg sets as dangerous an example as skinny supermodels.

UK files show how Spanish spy tricked Nazis over D-Day
Photo: DPA

Secret files released in Britain Wednesday shed new light on how a Spaniard dubbed the greatest double agent of World War II tricked Germany with false intelligence about the D-Day Normandy landings.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,545
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd