German children have a healthy value system, UNICEF says | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.12.2010
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German children have a healthy value system, UNICEF says

Contrary to popular belief, children in Germany have a high appreciation of social values. A new UNICEF report finds that most kids attach great importance to family cohesion, friendship and trust.

Man with grandson on his shoulders

Harmony in the family is what German kids value most

A survey compiled on behalf of UNICEF and officially released in Berlin on Wednesday takes a closer look at which social values six to 14-year-old kids in Germany cherish the most. Information gathered in 1,500 interviews has led the authors of the study to conclude that the vast majority of children are very highly value-oriented.

"We don't see any decline in values in this age group as some scientists want to make us believe," said Professor Hans Bertram from Berlin's Humboldt University during the presentation of the survey. "Values such as mutual trust, and increasingly also respect for other people's opinions and life experiences, are extremely important for children here."

Family as a safe haven

UNICEF researchers presenting the study to the media

German children's values are not declining, says the UNICEF team

Other qualities that rank high in the value system of the young are reliability, a sense of belonging, and honesty. Far less important for those polled appear to be money and religious faith. But what counts most for children is family cohesion, the study says.

"Of course, many kids do have problems with their parents once in a while," said Gerd Bruene from the GEO publishing house which was involved in the survey. "But the kids want to feel safe and protected, and they clearly associate this with their families."

Working parents are not a problem

A group of children playing at a table

When parents are away, the children can play

The study also reveals that most children here have learned to deal with the fact that many parents – increasingly also mothers – have to stay away from home for a long period to pursue their jobs. But they enjoy the time they can spend together with their parents who are credited with largely keeping job-related problems away from the kids.

"The kids feel that there's often a lack of time for working mothers to spend with them," said sociologist Hans Bertram. "But many youngsters also feel they have more freedom to pursue their own activities while their mothers are away."

German children fully accept the primary role of both parents and teachers to instill values of social behavior in them. Only a small proportion would make use of the media for this, and even fewer care about what religious leaders or politicians tell them.

Author: Hardy Graupner

Editor: Susan Houlton

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