Children should feel safe at home, in school and in their communities – the exact places where most children experience violence.
We are fortunate in Switzerland to have dedicated and committed professionals in Switzerland, working tirelessly across the child protection spectrum. But in order for them to do their jobs effectively, we need data to judge the health of the entire child protection system, and allow adjustments to be made where necessary. Only then can we reach our shared goal of protecting all our children no matter who they are, or where they live.
Our latest Optimus Study has shown it is possible to create the basis for the standardized collection of data we need. Over a survey period of three months we've gathered data from 351 child protection organizations, which corresponds to 81% of the organizations we surveyed in Switzerland. This is what we discovered:
- Each year between 30,000 and 50,000 children are admitted or re-admitted to organizations in the child protection system. But, many cases still get unnoticed. This number does not include all those children whose cases are unrecorded.
- Relatively few cases are referred by schools or early childhood care providers – schools record only 9% of endangerment records1 and 3% of criminal charges2. So there is a pressing need to invest in ways to promote early detection and further sensitize teachers, pediatricians, midwives, and others.
- Children who have suffered physical maltreatment come into contact with organizations in the child protection system relatively late: on average they are older than ten years, even though much younger children experience physical violence.
- Access to services across regions in Switzerland is not the same, meaning that depending on where they live, children have different levels of access to support.
I'm glad to say that a lot has been achieved since we initiated the Optimus Study series ten years ago – a multi-country epidemiological survey conducted in China, South Africa, and now most recently in Switzerland. But there is much still to do. This new study is intended as a call to action, with concrete recommendations to further advance the protection of children in Switzerland.
Phyllis Costanza, CEO UBS Optimus Foundation
Back in 2013 we've launched our first Optimus study in Switzerland where we presented data from students and institutions from the field of child protection. Since then, we have a new Child and Adult Protection law in Switzerland that came into force in January 2013. The institution KESB (Kinder- und Erwachsenenschutzbehörde) is an interdisciplinary professional authority which was created to protect the rights of children and adults who are not capable of doing this for themselves. Against this backdrop we decided to gather another and wider set of data in Switzerland, which we're launching with the current Optimus study in Switzerland.
Want to know more about child endangerment in Switzerland?
Download the full study.