von Dennis Theurer
- Englisch-Referat (11. Klasse)
- 15 Minuten
- 15 Punkte
Our society is getting older and older and less young people have to maintain a growing amount of old aged people. That's what our social system is like. Considering this social problem, politicians claim, that we must have more children but the fact is just the opposite: Less and less children are born. Are we tired of having children? What are the reasons for such a misbalance? Is our society really fit for more children?
The current birthrate in Germany is 1.3 children per woman of child-bearing age. According to researches a rate of 2.1 children is needed to maintain a stable population. But at present we are further away from reaching that aim than we have ever been. It seems that there must be many severe circumstances in our society which are responsible for the low birthrate.
Does our society really have a good attitude towards children? I don't think so. Families of four or more children usually don't have a good reputation. Having many children does not contribute to a good status in society like having several cars. When I asked what people connect with children, a lot would come up with the negative sides for example that children are noisy, disturbing and leaving dirt and chaos wherever they have played.
2. Environmental future
Another reason for the low birthrate might be the uncertainty of what will happen in the future. There are more and more things in this world that make us worry. For example pollution, global warming, wars and nuclear threatening are increasing as well as resources are running out. But also criminality, drugs, offences against children, sexual abuse and dangers like traffic are problems which have to be taken in account.
3. Children and jobs
Another great problem seems to be the fear of women of losing their job after the baby break. In Germany child care is available for children between 3 and 6 and normally operates only four hours a day, which is inadequate for parents who work full time as well as part time. To take care of their babies, mothers often have to give up their job. A woman doesn't have the right to get back to her former job after a longer break and ends up being unemployed and has to rely on her husband's income. If he, for whatever reason, loses his job as well, another child has to grow up in poverty.
In Germany 25% percent of women have a full-time job, in France this rate is at 45%.
In Germany like in no other country of the world education depends on the economic situation of the family. It becomes even worse with the study fees recently introduced which make poor students completely unable to study at all. This may seem odd for us as we have pretty good social conditions. Claiming that they should work to pay the study fees or get a scholarship sounds simple but I'm sure that some of us would fail to finance their study on their own if their parents would not pay for them.
For those who can't study for this or another reason and don't get a good graduation it is almost impossible to find a decent job. Thus they can't give their children good chances to get a good graduation either, because they have to suffer from their parents' failure and grow up in poverty.
And those who can afford to study will get to know the downsides really fast when they have to learn in classes with hundreds of students because of the lack of teaching staff.
In a current opinion research among young adults on reasons for not (yet) having children 47% reported the fear of financial burdens as a major factor. In Germany children are a poverty risk for families. This is not to say that children are "blamed" for poverty, but increase the risk of becoming poor when a child is born for households with bad economic situation. Child poverty being at a rate of 10.5% which are about 1.4 million children is at an all time high. In Denmark the rate is at 2.4%. The sharpest contrast however is found for children living in single parent households. Four out of ten live in poverty. Growing up in poverty restricts the opportunities for children: For these children it's difficult to participate in peer group society because they cannot afford the goods and services that others consider necessary.
To give an idea of costs I came up with a list of expenses and problems:
- Leisure activities
- Holidays - especially families suffer from rising prices during school term holidays. The whole holiday industry including airline and oil companies abuses this by rising the prices for everything.
- Education - books, class trips, college which includes the recently introduced study fees as well as keeping a second household.
- Medicine for children is no longer fully covered by health security.
- Many hospitals for children are closing down due to profitable reasons.
It's also proven that poverty often leads to learning difficulties, low levels of education, higher risk of criminal behavior and unemployment. It finally leads to a self-enforcing spiral of poverty and violence (including violence in families) across generations. Battered children often become battering parents. Violence creates violence. Children, which are not respected by their parents, won't respect others. Parents, who batter their beloved children to death, let them die from hunger or thirst, get rid of them like waste, often themselves experienced heavy mistreatment in their childhood.
As a consequence observers of this phenomenon call for much higher benefits for families with children. But the opposite is happening.
It is hard to find a solution to the problem, but I have thought of some things that could be done, leading to the right direction.
- Improve child care: Mothers wouldn't have to give up their job if there was better child care. Kindergartens need to be full-day and include children under the age of 3. Also better part-time working conditions could help mothers to earn money. For example Sweden offers a full time preschool for children from 1 to 5. It's voluntary but 96.5% of the Swedish parents use this offer.
- Do not look away when children are mistreated but take action.
- Encourage young parents to let their children play. Parents often rather lock their children away than letting them play outside in fear of their neighbors being disturbed.
- Don't complain yourselves because of noise or dirt caused by children.
- Give them room to live and play.
- Construct rooming respecting the needs of families (the classical German flat is a three room flat with a small child's room).
- Create better learning conditions like full time school. Schools and kindergartens need better equipment and more teachers. Again Sweden wants to lead as many pupils as possible to the higher education entrance qualification (Hochschulreife). That costs money and the society is ready to pay. Schools there are well equipped and the teacher/pupil proportion is 1-15. Therefore it's possible to offer children good individual treatment.
- Give children priority in our society. They are the society of tomorrow. They deserve to cost money.
Where does the money come from?
There is money. Germany is considered as one of the richest countries of the world so I must presume that there is money.
- Spend less on military.
- Cancel subventions that don't make sense.
- For example the European Union pays subventions for bananas grown in Europe. The Canarian Island La Palma is covered with banana plantations despite of bad growing conditions. The bananas are neither needed nor wanted and the majority of them are thrown into so called barrancos (abysses). The only reason for growing bananas are the subventions of the EU. They made the farmers multimillionaires and left a destroyed and poisoned countryside. From 2006 on the same subventions are paid for destroying the banana plantations.
- Don't spend public money on nonsense. For example Germany spent 10 million Euros to change the colors of the logo of the Arbeitsamt from red in white background to white in red background.
It's all a question of how to set the priorities.
Why do we still get children then?
Luckily nature has fitted us with a basic instinct of the wish for being parents. For a woman the moment she gives birth of a child is the most happy and overwhelming feeling in her life. I take this for granted. And also fathers seem to get very happy when they first hold their baby in their arms. Mr. Hacker can probably confirm that. So we have happiness and overwhelming feelings in the beginning, but how long do these feelings last? Can they make up for the problems young parents are quickly confronted with in the long term?
I cannot provide an answer to how to change parents' situation neither how to motivate more Germans to have children. But I think dealing with this problem as a social problem that will face all of us should be worthwhile and make us more aware when politicians talk about family policy.