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Germany’s youth at risk from loneliness, warns Minister

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Berlin, June 17:  Young Germans are acutely susceptible to feelings of loneliness in modern society, according to a new study published on Monday as the government launches a campaign highlighting the issue.

“Who knew that younger people are among the loneliest after coronavirus? This finally deserves attention,” Family Affairs Minister Lisa Paus told the Funke media group of newspapers.

“We must take loneliness, including that of young people, seriously and take action,” Paus said, noting that the issue also impacts political participation and, ultimately, democracy.

According to the study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, an independent think-tank in the north-western city of Gutersloh, almost half of 16 to 30-year-olds in Germany feel lonely.

More than a third (35 per cent) of 2,532 respondents in this age group said they were moderately lonely, while 10 per cent said they were “very lonely”.

In response to the issue, a government-sponsored campaign week titled “Together out of loneliness” will run until Sunday, with many different events planned across the country.

Compared with studies conducted in 2021 and 2023, slightly fewer young people now said they were socially and emotionally lonely.

However, the high ranking of young people in the assessment of loneliness requires a rethink, the authors of the study said.

“Loneliness is no longer a phenomenon that only affects older people. In recent years, it has become clear that young people are also increasingly affected by loneliness and therefore represent a new risk group,” said Anja Langness of the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Several other recent studies also described loneliness among young people as a problem.

Loneliness has long been known to be as harmful to those affected as smoking, obesity or air pollution, said Family Minister Paus. Less well-known is that it also has an indirect negative impact on democracy.

“Those who lose confidence in society also lose confidence in democracy, political participation decreases, as does the willingness to vote,” she said.

“Loneliness is an underestimated phenomenon.”

–IANS/DPA

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