NGOs criticise lack of national strategy on protecting children

Some 260,000 children in Switzerland live on the poverty line © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Children’s rights in Switzerland are insufficiently enforced, according to the Child Rights Network Switzerland, which has launched a campaign, “Children have rights!”, to raise awareness of the issue among the public and politicians.

This content was published on June 8, 2021 - 13:30

At the same time, the network is for the first time integrating the views of children and young people on growing up in Switzerland and the realisation of their rights in a “Children and Young People’s Report”.

The report will be presented to the UN Committee on the Rights of the ChildExternal link in Geneva this week together with the NGO report, which according to the network, shows that Switzerland still has a long way to go before children’s rights are fully implemented.

One criticism is that Switzerland, unlike many of its European neighbours, does not have an explicit ban on domestic violence. The right to a non-violent upbringing must therefore be anchored in the Civil Code, the network demanded at a media conference in Bern on Tuesday.

Almost half of all children in Switzerland experience physical and psychological violence in their upbringing, and every fifth child even experiences severe violence, it said. There are also major differences between the cantons in terms of prevention and early detection services.

Giving cantons autonomy at the perceived expense of children is criticised in other areas. For example, a family’s place of residence and socio-economic background determine whether children and their parents have access to low-threshold support services and whether they receive timely and competent help in the event of a risk to the well-being of a child.

However, children and adolescents should be able to exercise their rights to the same extent across Switzerland, the network said. A national strategy is therefore needed for violence prevention, access to support services for families, and the quality of residential care and foster care, it said.

Supplementary benefits for poor children

Some 260,000 children in Switzerland live on the poverty line, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

For those children, that means material disadvantage, social exclusion and poorer educational opportunities, the network said. Disadvantaged families must therefore be strengthened throughout Switzerland with comprehensive supplementary family benefits.

Refugee children also have a particularly hard time, the network pointed out. Child- and family-friendly accommodation for refugee children is not guaranteed everywhere. More than half of underage asylum seekers suffer from psychological stress. Therefore, refugee children should be able to benefit from low-threshold psychosocial services.

Child- and family-friendly accommodation and care for refugee children must be ensured in Switzerland, it urged.

The Child Rights Network SwitzerlandExternal link is an association of Swiss NGOs that campaigns for the recognition and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Switzerland.

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