The UN General Assembly defines a “young person” as anyone between 15 and 24 years of age. Going through puberty, leaving school, starting a career or going into further education, flying the parental nest, and finding one’s identity are all key parts of youth. An awful lot happens in this time and there are many decisions to be made. Young people today are faced with endless possibilities – too many, perhaps?
In April 2013, UNICEF published a report on “Child well-being in rich countries”. From a material point of view, young people in Germany are doing very well in international comparison – Germany ranks sixth in overall well-being. Education has also greatly improved – the country takes third place. Germany tops the table in preventing addiction: a decreasing number of young people are starting smoking, and alcohol and cannabis are consumed less and less frequently. But when young people were asked to assess their own “life satisfaction”, the report produced some alarming results – Germany only ranked 22nd! At the launch of the UNICEF report, Hans Bertram of the German National Committee for UNICEF, said that “such one-sided focus on performance and formal success means that many children and young people feel excluded. It therefore seems that our society, so rich in resources, is failing to provide all girls and boys with hope and the perspective of getting their fair share.” Is that perhaps why our young people are so dissatisfied?
Dr Susann Beetz, Project Coordinator of the Ideas 2020 exhibition, answered this question in collaboration with the German National Committee for UNICEF.