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The Social Impact Of Birth Control In Germany

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THE "SOCIAL IMPACT" OF BIRTH CONTROL

Positive impacts of access to sexuality education, public information, and medical services are available to young people in Germany. In Germany, adolescent sexuality is regarded as a health issue, not a political or religious one. An overwhelmingly majority of the people and institutions in this country support sexual health. Teens are educated about safer sex and have access to both birth control pills and condoms if they have sexual intercourse.

German adolescents are valued, respected, and expected to act responsibly. The adults trust adolescents to make responsible choices because they see young people as assets, and not problems. Teen abortion rates are much lower in Germany than in the United States. For Germany, the abortion rate is 8.7 for women ages 15 to 49 (Kelly, MeGee 1998/1999). The reality of this is that teens in Germany have intercourse without as many negative consequences as teens in the United States. These teens get flooded with positive messages aimed at helping them to avoid unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. The messages sent to German teens are not designed to ask them to refrain from sex until marriage, but educates them on the safety precautions involved with the act itself.

The movement to provide access to contraception, condoms, and comprehensive sexuality education is based on the desire to further reduce abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. In Germany, there is a national sexuality education policy, but individual states determine which curricula to use. They also have massive public education campaigns targeting safer sex behaviors and condom use.

Media are engaged in helping young people make healthy sexual choices and not simply titillating audiences with sexual content for the sake of advertisers' money. These countries also appear to have little concern that sexually explicit media messages will encourage young people to have intercourse. The mass media sexuality education campaigns are supported and encouraged by a broad array of people with an equally broad array of beliefs and values, ranging from AIDS educators and parents to religious leaders and policy makers. We in the United States can learn from this non-adversarial relationship between religious communities and advocates for sexuality education, and as a result, should encourage all groups to make strides toward a place where young people and families are supported to be sexually healthy.

Religion and politics have little influence on policies related to adolescent sexuality in the European countries (Kelly & MeGee 1998/1999). National health insurance in this country gives youth convenient access to sexual health care, including contraception and emergency contraception. The country provides youth-friendly access to sexual health care by having free or low-cost services, numerous locations with generous hours of operations, and social support for making responsible sexual choices (Kelly & MeGee 1998/1999). Most young people get contraceptives through their family and Pro-Familia in Germany provides services as well (Kelly & MeGee 1998/1999).

In a German study, it was found that 80 percent of the family communication about sexuality is introduced by the mothers, and that 40 percent of German young men report that they get no sexuality education from their parents. Almost 60 percent of parents regard human sexual behavior as a natural part of their life and, as a result, German families are taking sexuality education far more seriously than earlier generations (Kelly & MeGee 1998/1999). The role of the family in sexuality education is profound, not simply as a prevention method, but as a model for building healthy relationships and communications skills.

Germans have made significant strides within the last two decades toward implementing national harm reduction programs at their best. They saw the negative outcomes of HIV infection and too-early pregnancy, and worked collaboratively to create educational materials and provide access to services to address the negative outcomes,

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