Two thirds of children and young people in Germany feel that the Federal Government is not interested enough in what young people think. This is the result of a representative survey commissioned by the German Children’s Fund among children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 17. The reputation of local politics is even worse. Here, only 15% have the impression that local politicians are interested in young people and their concerns. At the same time, only 11% of children and young people said that there are sufficient opportunities for them to exert influence or engage in politics at home or in the neighborhood.
KNOWLEDGE OF OPPORTUNITIES
The survey also shows that there is a large lack of information among children and young people on the issues of participation. 44% of respondents do not know whether they can influence local decisions or engage in politics. It is particularly noteworthy that the main sources of information on this issue are school and teachers, with 58% of respondents, with parents at 37% and friends at 24%. The Internet is followed by 14% and daily newspapers with 12%.
Interest in political engagement increases with the age of children and adolescents, but only up to the age of 15. After that, there is a rupture. Children and young people are most likely to have a say in their leisure activities, two thirds (66%) see this as very important or rather important. This is followed by participation in school with 59% and environmental protection and environmental policy issues at 56%.
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PARTICIPATION IN POLITICAL BODIES
Interest in participating in political bodies, in which young people are also elected, or participation in political parties is very weak, at 7 and 9% respectively. But even participation in youth parliaments is hardly in demand, at 10%. The situation is much better here when it is possible to participate in political participation through internet-based procedures, where 21% of respondents would like to get involved.
It is even better to cooperate with concrete projects: 25% of children and young people would like to take action here. At 50%, however, the high proportion of those who do not want to get involved in politics is also noteworthy. Youth parliaments are still a shadowy existence. Forty-nine percent of children and young people do not know whether there is a youth parliament in their town, and another 29% said that there is no youth parliament. On the other hand, 48% of respondents consider a youth parliament to be a good idea, while only 13% do not find this form of participation interesting. The situation is similar with children’s and youth offices. 73% of children and young people do not know whether there is a children’s and youth office in their place. At the same time, 55% of respondents consider such an institution to be a good idea.
PARTICIPATION IN SCHOOL AND FAMILY
In the opinion of children and young people, participation in school is very poor. Only 2% said they had a say in many things at school. After all, 23% have a say in some things, but on the other hand there are 20%, those of very few things, or 55%, who, according to their own statements, cannot have a say. In many places, participation in the school is limited to class speaker and student speaker selections or classroom design and excursions. At the same time, only 8% are allowed to have a say in the design of school or house rules for topics relating to project weeks and only 2% in the selection of books that are read.
However, there is a desire for participation in school: 55% of children and young people would very much like to or would rather have a say here. Teaching is the most important form, at 23%.