A survey of 17- and 18-year-olds in Switzerland found that two-thirds have experienced parental violence at some point in their youth. The economic and geographic background of families plays a role.
Punishments including slaps to the face and hits were experienced by some 41% of respondents, the survey found; harder violence such as punching, hitting with an object, or serious beatings were reported by 22%.
The figures were reported by the SonntagsBlick newspaper, which had access to a report by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), which was in turn based on an anonymous survey of 8,317 students across ten Swiss cantons last year.
Various factors explained the extent of the violence among different groups, the report found.
For example, youths from families that were dependent on unemployment or other welfare benefits were twice as likely to report serious violence as those in wealthier households.
Families of immigrants were also more likely to use violence: more than three times as likely as non-immigrant Swiss children.
Such practices were most marked in families from African countries, Brazil, the Arab world, and Sri Lanka. At the other end of the scale, children from Austrian, German, and Swiss backgrounds reported less violence.
Respondents from urban areas were also more likely to have reported more physical punishment.
Study author Dirk Baier, interviewed by the SonntagsBlick paper, said that the results were significant in that such violence can seriously impact the future course of a child’s life: “affected adolescents are five times more dissatisfied with their own lives and become significantly more depressed”, he said.
The right of parents to use corporal punishment in disciplining their children was removed from Swiss law in 1978. But there is no outright ban in Switzerland, as there is in Germany.
In Germany, where the ban came into force in 2000, a lower number of children report receiving violent punishments – 40%.