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Call for corporal punishment to be banned

Experts are calling for violence against children to be banned (montage) Keystone

Corporal punishment of children should be banned in Switzerland and awareness of the problem raised, according to a group of experts on child issues.

The measures are part of a series of proposals aimed at preventing child abuse. They were put forward by the Centre for Family Affairs unit – part of the Federal Social Insurance Office – in a report issued on Tuesday.

In a statement, the experts said that child abuse was a problem which concerned all members of society.

For this reason they had developed an action plan for the protection of children which would work on three levels – federal, cantonal and local.

The plan calls on the government to create a special centre devoted to the prevention of child abuse, which would concentrate on training, research and information campaigns on the subject.

It also wants to see a ban on the corporal punishment of children – as well as any behaviour that is humiliating and degrading to the child – to be enshrined in law.

Another measure would be to create a special ombudsman or delegate to look after children’s best interests.

Information campaigns

National information campaigns are also needed to raise awareness of childhood abuse and violence, as well as how better to protect children, the experts said.

They went on to suggest that the cantons should be obliged to add the subject to all training courses for those working with children.

Other proposals included encouraging better awareness on the part of parents and making the authorities dealing with children more professional.

At a local level, communes should apply preventative measures via their school, medical and social infrastructures.

The study’s authors said that the aim of the report had been to start a debate and point out where coordination could be improved.

They warned that any new measures were likely to be expensive but pointed out that savings could be made in the long-term.

The experts said that at present medical, police and judicial costs were “enormous” when dealing with cases of child abuse.

“The problem is so complex that we can’t content ourselves with any half-measures,” said the authors.

swissinfo with agencies

Around 3,500 children die every year from violence in the OECD’s most industrialised countries.

The United Nations child agency, Unicef, says Switzerland should completely ban corporal punishment for children.

Switzerland ratified the United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights in 1997.

Switzerland does not normally prosecute parents but uses legal means to ensure that social services intervene in abuse cases.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR