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German kids turn sensible about sex and booze

The kids are all right - at least that's what a pair of German studies has appeared to show. Young people in Germany are taking greater precautions while having sex and have an increasingly sensible approach to alcohol.

A report published by the Federal Agency for Health Education (BZgA) examined contraception techniques used by 14 to 17 year olds and deemed their behavior "exceedingly prudent."

More the 90 percent of the young people surveyed said they speak openly with the sexual partners about contraception. The study found that condoms were the preferred method of contraception among young people.

The study compared previous numbers gathered in 1980, when 20 percent of all girls and 29 percent of boys reported not using any contraception the first time they had sex. Today, that number has declined to 6 percent and 8 percent, respectively. BZgA Director Heidrun Thaiss said the changes observed over 35 years should be regarded as a success.

"Until 2005, we saw a steady increase in sexual activity. This has stopped, if not begun to reverse," she said. Among other factors, Thaiss said there could be a change in values among young people to account for the change.

Youths of migrant backgrounds

The report also singled out young people with foreign backgrounds, who grew up in Germany. In 2005, 34 percent of boys with a migrant background reportedly forewent the use of contraceptives during their first sexual intercourse, while the number for 2015 had shrunk to 19 percent. In the case of girls with immigrant parents, the number went down from 19 percent to 2 percent in those 10 years.

Group of young people drinking

Young people in Germany are becoming more sensible not only when it comes to sex but also around the consumption of alcohol

The report also pointed out that there was a common misconception among adults that teenagers were having sex for the first time at an increasingly younger age. The report concluded that only 6 percent of all 14-year-olds had had sexual experience, while more than half of all 17-year-olds had already engaged in sex.

Again, the report featured a discrepancy in numbers between migrant youths and German-born youths: over 90 percent of all native German females had sex by the time they were 19 years old, while the number for foreign-born females at the same age was 61 percent. The number of native German and foreign-born males who had sex aged 19 was almost identical at 73 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

Still a taboo subject at home?

The report surveyed 5,750 young people and was the eighth of its kind commissioned by the BZgA. More than half of all native German youths reported speaking openly with their parents about sexuality and contraception, while 41 percent of migrant teenage girls and 36 of migrant boys said they felt comfortable discussing sex with their parents. Some 93 percent of those surveyed said they had sex education in school.

Correlation with alcohol consumption

The number might be part of a trend among youths in Germany to approach adolescence with more sensibility. Germany's Federal Statistical Office announced Thursday that the number of young people being hospitalized on account of binge drinking had fallen by nearly 4 percent last year, following a decrease of over 12 percent the previous year.

The report emphasized, however, that at a sum total of 22,391 admissions to hospital for alcohol abuse last year among 10- to 19-year-olds, there was still a lot of work to be done to fight the effects of over intoxication among young people.

According to the report, the number of heavy drinkers among youths was slightly higher for males than females. The study stated that the number of in-patient treatments at hospitals for alcohol abuse under the age of 19 was 3.5 percent per 100,000 residents for males and 3.3 percent for females. More than two thirds of all youths hospitalized on account of alcohol excess were under the legal drinking age, which in Germany is 18 for hard liquor and 16 for beer and wine. People under 20 accounted for more than a fifth of all alcohol-related hospital stays in Germany last year.

BZgA director Thaiss said public safety campaigns had contributed to raising awareness among young people about alcohol, including the government's "know your limits" campaign.

ss/sms (AFP, dpa, epd)

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