Project on child protection from the perspective of children and parents completed

Up to the 1970s, children and young people in Switzerland were often taken away from their families without them being properly informed. They had no idea what had happened to them, and were unable to assert their rights.

Children and young people in Switzerland were often taken away from their families without being properly informed about their impending placement in care right up to the 1970s. They had no idea what had happened or why, or where they had been taken. This often resulted in traumatic and upsetting experiences for those affected. Children and young people were unable to understand Switzerland’s numerous legal principles and practices for placing them in care. Differences in cantonal regulations due to the country’s federal structure exacerbated the problem. The cantons, guardianship authorities and other players had a great deal of scope for action. Children and young people, on the other hand, were seldom able to assert their rights, which led to arbitrariness and inequality.

It wasn’t until 2013 that the reform of the child and adult protection legislation secured fundamental procedural rights for parents and children. However, the rules for child protection proceedings are still not aligned with the particular needs of children and their families. This has resulted in a patchwork of different standards. Furthermore, the law does not provide enough detail as to how children can be involved in the proceedings. In other countries, children’s rights of participation carry considerably more weight and there are regulations governing how children can be involved in proceedings and influence the decisions made. The results indicate that, overall, Switzerland has some good approaches for promoting the integrity, autonomy and involvement of children and parents. However, these do not form part of the legislation or procedural law. Rather, they depend on the specialists’ attitude, individual willingness and competencies, as well as on organisational factors such as time resources.