Between 30,000 and 50,000 children who suffer abuse are registered by the child protection authorities in Switzerland every year, according to a study published on Wednesday.
The children required help because they had experienced physical or psychological violence, neglect, sexual abuse or had witnessed domestic violence.
The study by the Zurich-based UBS Optimus Foundationexternal link analysed the number of abuse cases, the types of welfare risks in Switzerland and the kinds of services provided by the various child protection organisations.
The foundation wrote in a press release that the high number of cases recorded should serve as a “wake-up call”.
The researchers surveyed a total of 423 Swiss child protection agencies, of which over 80% participated in the study.
The agencies included government-sponsored bodies such as the social protection programme for children and adults, hospitals, the police and victim aid services.
They found that 2%-3.3% of all children living in Switzerland are referred to a child protection agency every year, corresponding to 30,000 to 50,000 children annually.
'Tip of the iceberg'
The survey also showed that in 22.4% of the reported child abuse cases, the victims had experienced neglect. Some 20.2% involved physical abuse and 19.3% psychological abuse.
In 18.7% of cases, the children had witnessed domestic violence and a further 15.2% had suffered sexual abuse.
The study could only take into account those cases which had been reported to the authorities, and thus the figure was “likely just the tip of the iceberg”, wrote the foundation.
The researchers had also found that the services “did not always meet actual needs” and that they were not equally accessible to children across the different regions of the country.