The Jugendschutzgesetz, or Youth Protection Act, in Germany specifically deals with the rights and responsibilities of adolescents. When traveling abroad it is always good to know if there are any age restrictions. Corinna Bienger, our German correspondent, says, “these laws in Germany are the most complicated laws I ever read. There are restrictions, and then there are a lot of exemptions, too.”
Until the age of 14, the law sees you as a child. From 14 to 17 you are a youth (half adult) and at the age of 18 you are considered an adult. As in all such situations, as you are given more freedoms you take on personal responsibility for your actions.
Although the Jugendschutzgesetz prohibits young people under the age of 16 to consume alcohol in public, unless with a guardian, once you turn 16 you are allowed to consume wine and beer without restrictions. Drinks with higher alcohol content, such as schnapps and brandies, will only be served to individuals over the age of 18.
The Jugendschutzgesetz also prevents anyone under the age of 18 from entering a casino, and there are even some high stakes casinos that require you to be 21. This law also says you must be 16 or under the supervision of a parent or guardian to go to a disco. If you are over 16 but under 18 you can only be out until midnight. Corinna told us, “There are exceptions when the dance, or disco is a cultural thing or falls under the act of “art” or is at a church, etc.”
As a parent, Corinna commented, “Oh yes, the jungle of a German law… it was always complicated for me to know what I could let my child do. In reality, as soon as they’re 15/16, they’re out and about. Sometimes, in summer, our kids would visit a concert hall close by, stand outside and drink champagne from a bottle even after midnight. Police would tell them to go home, but hey, nobody really seemed to care.”
“German kids learn about the negative effects of alcohol very early on, and drink responsibly, so we don’t have as many problems with DUI as in America. German kids are raised to be very independent and self-responsible. My daughter, now 19, finds that living in the US, and suddenly being “underage” again, a bit problematic,” Corinna went on to say.
Photo by Strawbleu™ via flickr