Children in Germany worry about poverty and want to be heard: study | News | DW | 19.02.2019
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Children in Germany worry about poverty and want to be heard: study

The Bertelsmann Foundation has found that while most children in German are existentially secure, they still worry about money. Yet quality family time and being able to effect change are also children's priorities.

Having enough quality time with parents and being able to participate in school decisions are key concerns of children, initial results of a German study published Tuesday have found.

The study "Children's Worlds+" comes as recent student movements around the world have raised debate about the political participation and impact of children and young adults, and also as Germany worries about rising child poverty.

Key survey takeaways

  • 99 percent of all participants were existentially secure, meaning they had enough to eat.
  • More than half of all children worried occasionally, frequently or constantly about their families' financial situations.
  • German children were overall well provided for materially, and the more material possessions a child had, the less they worried about their families' finances. 
  • More young children felt that their teachers took care of them and helped them with problems, while that was less the case with older children.
  • 5 percent of children aged 8 felt there was no one in their family to take care of them while 10 percent of 14-year-olds felt the same way.
  • Children of all ages in families with a mother and a father were more likely to feel their parents spent enough time with them than children in other family constellations.
  • Children's' awareness of their rights increased with age, with 60 percent of those aged 14 were aware of their rights while 36 percent were unsure and 4 percent were unaware.
  • In discussion groups related to the survey, older students more frequently expressed disillusionment that they could exert any real influence for change in their schools.

What's the big picture for children in Germany?

Recent studies have shown child poverty to be a growing problem in Germany. One report based on 2017 statistics showed nearly 21 percent of children fell under the poverty threshold, higher than national average for all ages of 16 percent.

A previous Bertelsmann study also tied the likelihood of child poverty to the mother's employment situation.

The researchers behind the 2019 "Children's Worlds+" survey called for direct financial support to children in need.

'Need for trust'

"Kids and young adults are experts. Scientists and politicians should regularly and systematically listen to their rights, interests and needs," study author Sabine Andresen from the Goethe University Frankfurt said.

"Children and young adults need adults that they can trust, both in their families and in their schools," said Jörg Dräger, the director of Bertelsmann said.

What was the study?

The study "Children's Worlds+" is part of a broader global survey on children's needs and interests. It was conducted by Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation in conjunction with the Goethe University in Frankfurt. The researchers surveyed around 3,450 schoolchildren between the ages of 8 to 14 over the 2017-18 school year. They also conducted an additional 24 discussion groups with children and young adults aged 5 to 20.

Further analysis will be released in summer.

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