The experiences of powerlessness from the corona pandemic have apparently left deep grinding marks on children and young people. A large majority of them feel that their interests and concerns are not being heard.

This is the result of the Children’s Report Germany, which the German Children’s Fund presented on Friday. According to this, both the children and young people surveyed by the political research institute Kantar Public and the adults in politics give very poor marks when it comes to considering the interests of children and young people in political decisions. 83 percent of the children between the ages of ten and 17 who were questioned felt that their concerns were heard little or not at all, and only nine percent felt that their interests were being taken into account.

“The feeling of not being represented has grown over the years. This finding worries us,” said Thomas Krüger, the president of the children’s charity. “The intergenerational contract has more than one dent. It is no longer functional.” In the political debate there is “an almost systematic neglect of the interests of young people,” warned Krüger.

The children’s rights organization sees deficits, especially in terms of participation and the right to have a say in political decisions. In order to break through this feeling, we must finally succeed in anchoring children’s rights in the Basic Law. A demand shared by the overwhelming majority of 94 percent of children and 84 percent of adults.

“I hope that the coalition agreement of the traffic light government will start a new attempt here – also against the background that these two years of pandemic have created disadvantages for children and young people, which will have long-term consequences.” In the long term, the constitutional Anchoring of children’s rights have a major effect, for example on the case law of the courts, according to Krüger. “Such a standardization will have an influence on social politics.”

But young people also hope that other instruments will have more influence on politics: from child and youth representatives, for example (94 percent), from examining all new laws for youth friendliness (86 percent). 80 percent would like the federal government to have an advisory board for child and youth participation.

“Children and young people are experts in their everyday lives. So they should also be taken seriously when they have something to say,” demanded Krüger. 64 percent of young people consider the right to vote from the age of 16 to be the means of choice to better represent the interests of young people. “With the right to vote, young people would have an additional tool to contribute their views and needs,” says the report.

The coalition agreement of the traffic light government also provides for the lowering of the voting age – but the votes of the Union are required for a constitution-amending majority. “I very much hope that the children’s report will have an effect here, including with the opposition,” said Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister Malu Dreyer (SPD) at the presentation of the report.

The children and young people surveyed also have clear ideas about the social areas in which more investment needs to be made: in better infrastructure (96 percent), better education and good schools (95 percent), digitization (90 percent), combating child poverty (89 percent) and climate protection (70 percent). Where is the money supposed to come from? The young people have ideas for this too. “By people who have a lot of money pay more to the state,” say 84 percent of them. 67 percent wanted to cut government spending elsewhere.

Only 17 percent, on the other hand, support tax increases for everyone – and only 16 percent want to take on more debt. For adults, on the other hand, it is 30 percent. Here the children and young people obviously have an inkling of who will have to spoon up the soup at the end.

On the other hand, they share the desire for greater taxation of high incomes with adults. “Behind this is the deep will to have a society based on solidarity,” said Krüger. “Children suffer when classmates in the class have visibly fewer opportunities.” 69 percent of children and young people are already aware of the dilemma that poor education is inherited and opportunities are not distributed fairly. For adults it is even 84 percent. A problem that has been exacerbated by Corona.

Many young people have even disappeared completely from the scene as a result of the pandemic, as the children’s charity managing director Holger Hofmann said. 200,000 young people practically disappeared in a vacuum after school, are neither in training nor in a volunteer year.

And the psychological consequences are still great, reported Dreyer. She had also included three student representatives in the Corona Alliance in Rhineland-Palatinate. “Her main concern was the mental health of her classmates. They saw that as the dominant issue.”

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