I (16) live in a residential unit. I have a very strict curfew. If I am late I am grounded. Is that right?

Your carer in the residential unit has to look after you.
That means that you are not allowed to stay out too late.
It is right to say to you:
You must be home on time in the evenings.
However, you have the right to have fun with your friends.

Sometimes you may lose track of time.
You come home much later than agreed.
Then it is right if your residential unit is stricter with you.

However, sometimes it is not your fault that you are late.
Because the bus is late.
Because an appointment lasted longer than planned.
In that case it is not fair that you are punished.
Your carers must take this into consideration.

Being grounded may not be fair.
If you think you are being treated unfairly then you can seek help.
For example, you could talk to your guardian about the matter.

I (16 years old) live without my parents in a youth welfare organisation. I would often like to meet my friends. However, I have lots of appointments. Is it the same for all children and young people in Germany?

All children and young people in Germany have the right to leisure time and fun.
You have this right just like all other children and young people.
Your carers must take this right into consideration.

However, they also need to care for you well.
That is why you sometimes have appointments.
You may need to visit the official authority for questions about your place of residence.
To ensure you can stay here.
Or if you need to talk to your guardian.
So that they know what they can do for you.
Or if you need a specific document.
So you can prove who you are, for example.

You must keep some appointments because you are here without your parents.
Your carer cannot take care of these appointments for you.
Do you think that these appointments are too much for you?
Then please discuss this with your carer.
Or ask your guardian.

I am from Syria and I have been living in a residential unit for half a year (15, girl). I am very homesick and often sad. Who can help me? I don’t want to burden anybody.

You are alone in Germany.
You have had a long path behind you.
Much of it was certainly very unpleasant and unsettling.
You have experienced a massive burden.

You are not an adult yet.
You have the right to help and support.
And: you have the right to be heard.
This means: it is important that people listen to you.
It is important that your voice is heard.
This is one of the UN Children’s Rights.
It means: the people who are taking care of you now listen to you.
They are interested in your wishes.
They help you to feel happy and safe.

If they do not do this then something is wrong.
Then you need to seek help.
Please talk to an adult who you trust.

There are special rights for children here in Germany. What does that mean?

UN human rights apply almost everywhere in the world.
They state: all people are equally valuable and important.
Therefore, the state must treat all people equally.

Human rights also apply to children.
However, children need even more rights.
To achieve this there is the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
All children must be treated equally well.
All children must be protected.
All children must be encouraged.
Your opinion is important and should be heard.
These are the children’s rights.

Children’s rights apply worldwide in almost every country.
They apply to all children from birth until they are 18 years old.
Adults are responsible for giving children these rights.
Children’s rights are very important in Germany.
Girls have the same rights as boys.
All people in Germany should pay attention to children’s rights.
What rights do you have as a child or young person?
We will explain that in another article.

I (15) am not allowed to smoke in Germany. Why not? What is the Jugendschutzgesetz (youth protection act)?

The youth protection act is intended to protect children and young people from harm.
It applies in particular in public, meaning outside your home.
Adults may not allow children and young people to do some things here.
If they do, the adult can be given a penalty.

The law differentiates between children and young people.

What is forbidden for you?
You may not be in restaurants or pubs after 11 pm.
You may not play gambling games for money.
You may not drink alcohol and you may not smoke.
You may not buy or rent films which are not ‘approved’.

Each film is assigned an age rating. If you are younger than this rating you may not watch the film.
This is on the packaging.
These rules also apply to games consoles, computer and mobile phone games.

Take a look here to find out more:
For adults: you can order the law in different languages for young people here:

I (girl, 15 years old) am not allowed out by myself. If my girl friends are doing something I have to say no or take my brother with me. What can I do?

You can try to talk to your parents.
Because: it is your right to do things by yourself.
There are children’s rights.
These rights apply to all children and young people in the entire world.
You can explain three of these rights to your parents.

You have the right to be treated equally!
That means: you must be treated just like your brother.
You have the right to free time and relaxation!
That means: you can also decide yourself what you do in your free time.
You have the right to privacy!
That means: you also need to have time to yourself and with your girl friends.

Maybe your parents are not listening to you.
Maybe you don’t have the confidence to talk about it with them.
In that case you can go to a help centre.
You can get advice here if you have problems.
The consultants here can talk to you together with your parents.
You can find a help centre here, for example:
If you enter your address you can find a centre close to you.

I am a 16-year-old boy and a friend told me that in Germany you can touch girls on the bottom and not be punished. Is that true?

No, that’s not true.
A new law was passed in November 2016.
Perhaps your friend doesn’t know that yet.

The law now says:
Nobody is allowed to touch another person on the body “in a sexual way” if they do not want to be touched.
“In a sexual way” means:
The touch has something to do with sex.
Or the touch is in an intimate area.
For example, on the bottom, the breasts or between the legs.
This is also called “sexual harassment”.

Everyone is allowed to decide for themselves how they are touched.
And everyone is allowed to decide for themselves where they are touched.
That is called “sexual self-determination”
That is a right for all people.
Anyone who infringes that right can be punished.

I am a 16-year-old boy and I have to watch my sisters to make sure they don’t go out with boys. They have to behave virtuously in public. This is a matter of honour in my family. My parents say that I am responsible. It’s often exhausting. What can I do?

Watching your sisters is very tiring and a great responsibility.
And it is very unpleasant for your sisters.
It means that they are not free to live and enjoy their own life.

Honour is very important in many families.
Think about what honour means for your family and you.
And what is really important to YOU?
What will you do when your sister meets a boy?
Unfortunately there are some families who may hurt girls because of this.
They also say that this is a matter of honour.
But honour should not mean violence.

Other boys have already refused to do this in the name of honour.
They say that “honour is fighting for my sister’s freedom”.
That is also honour.
It might still be difficult for you to think that way.
You might need support from other boys.
You can speak to boys who think differently about honour.
They might be able to help you decide what honour is for you.
Find them here:
www.heroes-net.de (in many large towns and cities)

I am a 16-year-old girl and I have already had sex and am no longer a virgin. In my family this is considered a violation of honour. I’m frightened of my family finding out. What can I do?

This must be a very worrying situation for you.
It is therefore important that you understand
that honour has different meanings in different cultures.

In Germany, a person might be considered dishonourable
if they do not respect the laws and regulations
or if they hit or rape women and children.
It can be honourable to help someone when they need help and protection.

In some cultures people understand honour differently.
Sometimes honour means that a girl should remain a virgin until marriage.
Or that girls and boys should marry a person chosen by their families.
But these decisions should be made by you alone.
It is your personal right!
Nobody is allowed to violate your rights.

You can get help if your family thinks otherwise and puts you under pressure.
It is not ok for your family to pressure you about your virginity.
You can get help via these websites:





I am a 16-year-old girl. And I have only been in Germany for a few weeks. Everything is different here. What is life like for women and girls in Germany?

A lot of things must seem strange to you here in Germany.
Women and girls have the same rights as men and boys.
These rights apply to all women and girls who live in Germany.
It is important for women and girls to know these rights.
Do you know your rights?

Here are a few examples:
You are allowed to study and attend school.
You are allowed to choose a job for yourself.
You are allowed to travel alone when you are old enough.
You are allowed to make your own decisions.
You are allowed to decide whether to get married or not.
You are allowed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
You are allowed to dress as you like.
You are allowed to go out with anyone.

It is important for boys and girls to know these rights.
These rights must be respected.

This link will take you to a website containing more information.
An information sheet is available in many different languages (Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, English, Farsi, Dari, French, Serbian and Somali – and new languages are always being added).
Read the text carefully.
It is important for you to know the rights of women and girls.