In contrast to perceptions that young people are highly promiscuous, a new study on youth sexuality has found that more and more German teenagers are waiting for first-time sex.
German teens are not as wild as the media makes out
A recent study by the Department for Health Education (BZgA) entitled "Youth Sexuality 2010'" has found that young Germans aged between 14 and 17 are waiting longer for their first sexual experience than the same age group did a few years ago.
"Assumptions that more and more young people are having sex earlier and earlier, have not been confirmed," said BZgA director Elizabeth Pott.
The findings are in stark contrast with the way adolescents from the so-called "Generation Porno" have been portrayed in the media, especially after Berlin pastor Bernd Siggelkow - in a book called "Germany's Sexual Tragedy" - voiced concerns that Germany's oversexed youths were losing their ability to form meaningful relationships because of their early exposure to sex and pornography.
The new report paints a picture of a generation of young people with a mature attitude to sex, with values such as fidelity and love playing an important role in their lives.
Waiting for Mr or Mrs Right
Over half of boys had sex for the first time with a long-term partner
Compared to the last study five years ago, the percentage of 14-year-old girls who had already had sex now stands at seven percent, rather than 12 percent. When boys are included too, the study noted a drop from 10 percent in 2005 to four percent in 2010.
In the 17-year-old age group, the number of girls with sexual experience has dropped seven points to 66 percent, and the boys have remained almost constant at 65 percent.
When asked why they were abstaining, most said they had not found the "right person." This was the reasoning for two-thirds of girls, whereas boys said they were also shy and "afraid of being clumsy."
The report describes a generation happy to wait for love and commitment. 58 percent of boys said their first sexual experience was with a long-term partner, whereas 30 years ago this number was much lower, at 41 percent.
"The desire for trust is quite large," Potts said. "When it comes to sex, most want to be in a committed relationship."
The report also commented that most teenagers seemed to be more well-informed, with a much lower number than in 2005 being "completely surprised" by their first sexual encounter. In addition, they are also practicing safe sex, with the lowest number to date (eight percent) admitting they did not use contraception the first time.
Value of sex education
Condoms were the number one contraceptive used by 14 to 17-year-olds
At least three-quarters of those surveyed said that their main source of knowledge about reproduction, sexuality and contraception came from school lessons. The Internet was also cited as a useful tool for filling in the gaps.
"Finally, the bashful conversations of previous generations are over," Pott said.
Perhaps the most shocking discovery from the survey was the high level of young women who have experienced sexual violence. Thirteen percent said they had been in a situation where they had to defend themselves against sexual assault. This figure jumped to 19 percent among teenagers from immigrant families.
In total, 3542 adolescents were surveyed by the BZgA, including 1014 youths whose parents were non-German.
Author: Catherine Bolsover (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Toma Tasovac