Rights of School Age Children in Germany

Over the years, I have been questioned about several issues related to minors’ rights in Germany by ex-pat parents and students alike.

Here is a short summary:

  • Germany has a compulsory school attendance law, which requires all children between the ages of six to fifteen to attend school.
  • Germany is a member of the Global Conventions Act, that protect the rights of children. This entitles them to a childhood free of emotional, mental, and physical abuse. *
  • Children under 15 may not be employed. Exceptions are made for minor jobs such as newspaper delivery routes, babysitting, taking care of pets, or other tasks which are not dangerous.
  • At the age of 14, when in presence of parents or guardians, minors are allowed to consumer beer and wine.
  • At the age of 16, minors are allowed to buy and consume beer and wine.
  • At the age of 18, they are of legal age. Therefore, they can buy and consumer beer, wine, and distilled liquor.

*More about this at Children’s Rights: Germany

Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. My blog Pension Sprachschule assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on the service.

Sequoia Trees in the Oberursel Forest

There are two Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) near the Frankfurter Forsthaus located in the Oberursel forest.

If you live in the Oberursel area, enter the Rosengärtchen at the U-Bahn station An der Waldlust. Walking downhill a bit, you’ll soon see a sign pointing you to the Tierheim (animal shelter). Follow this road into the woods, pass the Tierheim, and you will soon come to and intersection and see the trees on the left side. Walking time: 20 – 25 minutes

These trees were planted around 1860. One of our international friends asked me if I knew who planted them. As of now, I have only learned that 1860 was a significant year in Europe’s history.

As these tree have been planted close to the Frankfurter Forsthaus in the Oberursel forest (closer to Oberstedten and Bad Homburg), I suppose it might have something to do with all the important people and events in Bad Homburg.

Certain events in 1960:

* Bad Homburg got connected to Frankfurt by rail.

* Emporer Wilhelm II. started using the Bad Homburg castle as his summer residence on a yearly basis.

* The Bad Homburger Kurverein was founded.

* In the year of 1860 alone, there were  275 000 Kurgäste (spa visitors) in Bad Homburg.

* The Gotische Haus (Gothic House) bordering the city limits of Bad Homburg came into possession of the  forest landgraviate( landgräfliche Forstverwaltung).

Sequoia sign in Oberursel Forest

Sequoia sign in Oberursel Forest

Oberursel Forest

Oberursel Forest

Sequoia cone and seeds

Sequoia cone and seeds

Looking for information about 1860 Deutschland, there are about 9,560,000 results. Searching for 1860 Bad Homburg, the net comes up with 126,000 results.

 Who planted these two Sequoia trees? If you know, feel free to share it here with us.


China’s View on Female Education and Marriage

A recent article in the New York Times, written by Leta Hong Fincher, focused on China’s Leftover Women (剩女). I thought, what an interesting title to catch the readers’ attention.

At the same time, I remembered the derogatory term Christmas Cake used for unmarried women in Japan. In the early 90s, an unmarried Japanese woman was referred to as such. Back then, I was in my early 30s and independent,  and I needed clarification for this term. I was told a woman over 25 is not desirable for marriage, just like a day-old Christmas Cake. Ah so desuka.

I was hoping this outlook would improve for Asian women (in general), but it seems China is still holding on to its very traditional perception of female roles in society.

During my first reading of the above article (link below), I kept just shaking my head in disbelief in what the author shared in her writing. During my second reading – one just for good measure – I started smiling, and yes, sometimes even laughed out loud.

Quoting one part from the website of the Women’s Federation *:

Pretty girls don’t need a lot of education to marry into a rich and powerful family, but girls with an average or ugly appearance will find it difficult. These kinds of girls hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is, they don’t realize that as women age, they are worth less and less, so by the time they get their M.A. or Ph.D., they are already old, like yellowed pearls.

Quoting Ms. Fincher’s words:

* In 2007, the Women’s Federation defined “leftover” women (sheng nu) as unmarried women over the age of 27 and China’s Ministry of Education added the term to its official lexicon. Since then, the Women’s Federation Web site has run articles stigmatizing educated women who are still single.

– end of quote –

I guess they see the age of 28 and above like an overly ripe commodity which is no longer wanted on the market. On the other hand, I wonder who makes up this Women’s Federation. Women themselves? I doubt it. Unless these are pretty women who have been employed by this Women’s Federation to write what they have been told by powerful old men.

See for yourself what else Ms. Fincher has to share with us in her post China’s “Leftover” Women.

Be prepared for a good reminder how different our values are. Sad to say, this stigma has also increased the suicide rate among young women, the ones who fear the sheng nu status.

Another reason for China in strongly encouraging women to consider early marriage is the current statistics for university graduates. Close to 52% of all graduates are female, and hence, the Chinese government might worry about its male-dominated employment situation.

Where once bound feet was a mark of beauty, being a prerequisite for finding a husband, as well as a way to marry into money, the current China seems to put a tight wrap on women’s education. When young women are being discouraged from higher education and careers, in order to find a husband at a young age, then we are looking at some dark times again.


Senior Citizen Age in Germany

The other day I read the article Selbstverteidung für Senioren (self defense for senior citizens) in our local small town paper.

As I started reading it, I assumed this offer for a two-day self defense class was geared at senior citizens, this term usually defined by our current retirement age of 65, with several options for early retirement.

Then it said: Der Kurs richtet sich an Menschen ab dem Alter von 50 Jahren (this class is intended for people as of the age of 50).

This put everything in a different light for me, as I soon would be eligible for the class, with my 50th coming up in December.

To be called a senior citizen, while I am still a mother with kids in school, I would find perturbing if this were a common perception in Germany. But I hope this was just a single case of a young writer not knowing the changing demographics of society.

The Volkshochschule in Oberursel, which offers this class,  is part of the Hessischer Volkshochschulverband e.V. As this is part of a public institution, I wonder if their recognition of 50-year-olds to justify as senior citizens would earn me a senior citizen discount in a restaurant? This is one of the benefits Germany still lacks – granting children menus and entrance fees at reduced prices, but not for senior citizens.

On the other hand, I can do without the discount right now. Just don’t label me a senior citizen when I am still contributing to the Bruttosozialprodukt (gross national product).

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