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Comparison of the legal basis for health prevention and promotion in the school laws of the federal states in Germany

Niehues C, Höldke B, Gericke CA

Gesundheitswesen; 68: 101-109


Health prevention and promotion in schools are key public health tasks in most countries. This study focuses on the importance given to prevention and promotion of health in law texts through comparatively analysing school laws for the sixteen federal states in Germany. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The basis for the analysis are the sixteen federal school laws in Germany. A conceptual framework to analyse the law texts has been developed grouped according to the following categories: aims of literacy and education; development of organization; individual and social health; and security and accident prevention. Examples for second level categories include nutrition, motility, alcohol, violence, and road-traffic accident prevention. Based on a point-system of valuation, a ranking for the federal states was derived in terms of an assessment of the importance of health prevention and promotion in federal states' school laws. RESULTS: Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern -- three "new" states (i. e. formerly East-German) are leading the ranking. Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, two states that had been ruled by conservative governments for a long time, had special difficulties to take over new values in their legislation and occupied rank 14 in our ranking. The last place was taken by a state under social-democratic rule -- Nordrhein-Westfalen. However, this law dated from 1952 and a new law has just been passed in August 2005. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION: The comparison of the school laws of the federal states in Germany demonstrates that there has been a substantial amount of change in recent years. In some school laws, the impulses of the Ottawa Charta regarding health prevention can be clearly recognised. In others prevention and promotion of health are only subordinated subjects. As in many other areas of social importance, reorientation is taking place. In particular, federal states who have placed little emphasis on school health will have to renew their corresponding legislation.

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