The Swiss Federal Council is planning to introduce the principle of “non-violent parenting” in the country’s civil code, aiming to outlaw all forms of physical and verbal violence against children. Currently, parental violence is already prohibited under Switzerland’s criminal code, and anyone, including teachers and childcare staff, is obliged to report suspected cases of violence against children to the authorities.
Federal Councilor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider is advocating for the principle of non-violent children’s education to be fixed in the civil code. Her department is currently preparing the necessary amendments, which aim to ensure that parents raise their children without resorting to any form of physical punishment or degrading violence.
The proposed legislation defines “physical punishment” to include both mild and severe forms of physical impact. According to an explanatory note attached to the bill, slapping or shaking are considered mild punishments, while striking with objects like belts or sticks, burning, and kicking are seen as severe acts of violence. Psychological abuse, such as threats, insults, humiliation, contempt, intimidation, neglect, ostracism, and isolation, is also included in the definition of violence.
Nicole Hitz, a researcher at the Federal Office of Justice, emphasized that introducing these provisions into the Swiss Civil Code is not about the state exerting control over education or punishing violations. Instead, the principles aim to send a signal to parents and to ensure that children are not subjected to violence at home.
In addition to the proposed amendments, the Federal Council plans to expand and strengthen existing counseling services for parents and children. The aim is to make these services more easily accessible for Swiss families.
The proposed changes have been welcomed by Child Protection Switzerland. Regula Bernhard Hug, the organization’s chief, expressed delight at the proposal, noting that it provides clarity and has a significant impact as many parents are unsure about what is allowed and what is not.
The public consultation process for the amendments to the civil code will continue until November 23, 2023. During this time, interested individuals, parties, and organizations have the opportunity to express their concerns or provide comments on the legislation.
Overall, Switzerland is taking a proactive approach to protecting children from violence within the home. By introducing the principle of non-violent parenting in the civil code, the country aims to create a safer and more nurturing environment for children, ensuring their well-being and development.