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Germany: Sex education group recommends daycare centers set up body exploration rooms

Updated: Mar 14

Germany’s leading professional association on sexuality and partnership, Pro Familia, is under fire after issuing a recommendation that daycares implement “body exploration rooms” and “sexual games” for young children.

If it's up to Dirk von Osten, chairman of the board of the AWO Region in Hanover (small pic), children in daycare centers will probably be taught "doctor games" without panties in rooms specially created for this purpose in the future.

The issue first came to light when news outlet BILD revealed that parents were sent an e-mail from an Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) daycare center in the Hanover region which presented a list of ten rules explaining how children in the “body exploration room” would be encouraged to “pet and examine” themselves and other children.

“All children, especially preschoolers, are aware of the places in the facility where nudity and body exploration can take place,” reads the message. “Each child decides for themselves whether and with whom they want to play physical and sexual games. Girls and boys pet and examine each other only as much as is comfortable for themselves and other children.”

Other rules outlined in the communication stipulate that the children must be within the same age group with a gap of no more than two years, and that at no time should a child “stick anything into another child’s body openings.”

1. Each child decides for him/herself, whether and with whom he wants to play physical and sexual games.

2. All children, especially those of kindergarten age, know the places in the facility where nudity and body exploration can take place.

3. Girls and boys fondle and explore each other only as much as is comfortable for themselves and other children.

4. No child hurts another in the process.

5. No child puts anything in another child's orifices (buttocks, vulva, mouth, ear) or licks another child's body.

6. The age difference between the children involved is no more than 2 years.

7. Older children, teenagers and adults are not allowed to participate in the doctor games.

8. Saying "stop" is possible at any time and will be respected in all cases.

9. Getting help is not snitching.

10. If there are not enough pedagogical professionals to ensure compliance with the rules, there may be restrictions on play, e.g. children are not allowed to strip naked.

One shocked father told BILD, “My daughter is five years old. I don’t want boys groping her. I have another child in another daycare center [where] there is no such thing [as an exploration room].”

Another father responded, “I’m devastated. We were told that this was determined by the Ministry of Education. As parents we were intimidated. What options do you have if you don’t want this?”

The Ministry of Education in Lower Saxony responded to the concerned parents by terminating the program before it was put into effect. A representative told BILD that, at the end of May, “the state youth welfare office reported to the Ministry of Education that the pedagogical concept of the physical exploration rooms in the daycare centers cannot last, and that this puts the well-being of the child at risk.”

However, Dirk von der Osten, Chairman of the Board of the AWO Region in Hannover, disagreed. “Exploring one’s own body is part of child development, during which they also learn to recognize their own limits, to express them clearly and to develop shame,” von der Osten said. “Children also play role-playing games in their group rooms. We do not see any child welfare endangerment in this.”

This is not the first time a policy recommended by Pro Familia has been called into question. In 2013, Deutsche Welle asserted that “Pro Familia is stuck in the pedophilia swamp,” and emphasized how the sexual education organization has repeatedly published the works of pro-pedophile lobbyists.

The Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel investigated articles published by Pro Familia Magazine and found that pro-pedophile views were represented in works released in the 1980s and 1990s. An article by the psychologist and educator Wolf Vogel, dating back to 1987, for example, reflects “without prejudice” on the causes of pedophile lust.

Pro Familia has also platformed Rüdiger Lautmann, a sociologist and gay rights advocate who has a lengthy history of normalizing pedophilia. Lautmann authored a book titled The Lust for Children: A Portrait of Pedophiles. The book is based on his interviews with 60 men who admitted to sexually abusing young children, primarily boys.

“They really love the children, read their every wish, organize trips, buy toys and are only comfortable around children,” Lautmann says of the 60 pedophiles he interviewed.

Released in 1994, the book became popular with pedophiles for its sympathetic portrayal of adult attraction to children, which Lautmann described as a sexual orientation, and its repeated assertions that children are capable of sexual autonomy.

“For me, it is is very clear that there do exist relationships that do not require any intervention,” Lautmann wrote, “The children cling to their lovers, and can leave them any moment if they choose.”

In 1995, Lautmann repeated the thesis of his book in an article for Pro Familia, a leading NGO which provides resources on sexual health. In Pro Familia’s official magazine, Lautmann’s article states: “Our study defines the term pedophile, distinguishes it from incest, abuse and sadism. We prove that such men exist.

The thesis is therefore: The desire for a child is an independent and differentiated sexual form. Pedophilia is therefore a sexual orientation like any other and no longer a perversion.”

An article by Lautmann was again published by Pro Familia in 2013, titled “sexual research can change reality.”

Last year, after public outcry, Lautmann was blocked from participating in the creation of daycare centers coordinated with Berlin’s Senate Department for Youth, Education and Family. He had initially been one of the members of the board overseeing aspects of the project.

Critics have also pointed out that one leading policymaker behind Pro Familia, Uwe Sielert, has questionable views regarding sexuality and children, and has ties to controversial sexologist Helmut Kentler, who has been described as a fatherly mentor to Sielert.

Kentler, who campaigned throughout his life for the abolition of laws which prohibited the sexual abuse of children under 14 years of age, was responsible for a state-funded project that saw children sexually abused by pedophiles in an “experiment” to prove that adult-child sex was harmless.

Beginning in 1969, Kentler’s project had placed foster children in the homes of pedophiles in an attempt to test his theory that pedophiles could make good foster fathers. Kentler had theorized that the pedophile’s attraction to children would result in a strong drive to take care of them.

“These people were able to put up with these [mentally] retarded boys only because they were in love with them, infatuated with them, crazy about them,” Kentler explained in 1970.

Kentler’s project was approved by the Berlin Senate, and the pedophile foster fathers received monthly allowances from the government to care of the orphaned children.

According to Frank Herrath, a lecturer in sexology and co-founder of the Institute for Sex Education (Institut für Sexualpädagogik – ISP), “sex education in Germany was shaped by Helmut Kentler and Uwe Sielert.”

“Sex education would not be what it is today if Uwe Sielert had not helped shape it for over a quarter of a century as an affair of the heart. Like his fatherly friend Helmut Kentler, Uwe Sielert was and is extremely important for both sex education theory and the practice of professional sexuality support, over the years always innovative and initiative, staying curious about what is new and having a lasting effect,” Herrath wrote in 2009.

Sielert, co-founder of the Society for Sex Education (Gesellschaft für Sexualpädagogik – GSP), is a scientific advisor to the Dortmund Institute for Sex Education and professor of education at the University of Kiel.

He has authored several books on child sexuality. In one example, Sielert co-authored a sexual education book with Herrath, aimed at children ages 4 to 8 years old, in which explicit sexual activity between children is depicted and readers are encouraged to imitate masturbation and sexual interactions.

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