Federal Department For Media Harmful To Young Persons - History


The original Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften (Federal Department for Writings Harmful to Young Persons) was established on May 18, 1954, after the Gesetz über die Verbreitung jugendgefährdender Schriften was adopted on June 9, 1953. The presiding officers of the Bundesprüfstelle have been:

  • Robert Schilling 1954 - 1966
  • Werner Jungeblodt 1966 - 1969 (Deputy: Eduard Tack)
  • Rudolf Stefen 1969 - 1991 (Deputies: Elke Monssen-Engberding, later Gerhard Adams)
  • Since 1991: Elke Monssen-Engberding (Deputies: Dr. Bettina Brockhorst, now Petra Meier)

The first session deciding upon applications requesting the indexing of materials took place on July 9, 1954. The first two works indexed by the BPjS were Tarzan comics. The rationale for this was that they would affect young people in a "nerve-inflaming and brutalizing way" and "transport them into an unreal world of lies". Such works were supposedly "the result of a degenerate imagination".

In 1978 the number and type of institutions which could petition for a work to be indexed was widened considerably. Since then, not only the higher authorities with responsibility for young people in the Länder (states), but also the youth welfare offices of individual Kreise (districts) have been authorized to submit applications. The number of applications for indexing has multiplied significantly as a result of this.

Following the Erfurt massacre (a Columbine-like shooting at a school in Erfurt), the Jugendschutzgesetz was passed in June 2002, replacing the Gesetz über die Verbreitung jugendgefährdender Schriften and the Gesetz zum Schutz der Jugend in der Öffentlichkeit (Law for Protection of Young Persons in Public Places). It came into effect on April 1, 2003.

The change in the law clarified the area over which the Bundesprüfstelle had authority. New forms of media such as websites and computer software were within its jurisdiction. As a result of these new powers the organisation's name was changed to the current Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien. As previously, an examination order can result from the application of a state youth protection agency or from the request of a non-governmental youth organisation.

For video games, the new law also made the ratings of the USK compulsory. Games that have been given a rating by this organisation can no longer be put on the index.

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