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Errors and mistakes in child protection in Switzerland: a missed opportunity of reflection?


Müller, Brigitte; Biesel, Kay; Schär, Clarissa (2020). Errors and mistakes in child protection in Switzerland: a missed opportunity of reflection? In: Biesel, Kay; Masson, Judith; Parton, Nigel; Pösö, Tarja. Errors and mistakes in child protection: international discourses, approaches and strategies. Bristol, UK: Policy Press, 153-172.

Abstract

In Switzerland, two lines of discourse can be reconstructed in the field of errors and mistakes: a historically oriented discourse on coercive child removals and placements in the 19th and 20th century, and a contemporary oriented discourse on fatal cases in child protection in the context of a new organization of child protection authorities. Both lines have in common that they have not (yet) led to an explicit debate on errors and mistakes in Switzerland. The chapter begins with a short introduction to the Swiss child protection system and summarises how coercive child removals practiced until the mid-20th century have led to harm, injustice, and suffering for many children and their families. It describes how a historical appraisal of these experiences led to a debate on abusive practices under the cover of child protection, which prompted a Federal Act entitling survivors to reparation payments. The chapter further depicts the discourses and developments preceding a reform of the legislation on child and adult protection in the Swiss Civil Code in 2013. The new legislation aimed at professionalising child protection proceedings and decision-making, and included a pivotal shift from lay to professional decision-making bodies. The current state of this process, which has led to criticism on the part of politicians, the public, and the media particularly with regard to negative or fatal outcomes of child protection cases, is analysed and discussed. Strategies for avoiding and dealing with errors and mistakes are described. Using this background, the need for an explicit discourse on errors and mistakes in child protection in Switzerland is outlined.

Abstract

In Switzerland, two lines of discourse can be reconstructed in the field of errors and mistakes: a historically oriented discourse on coercive child removals and placements in the 19th and 20th century, and a contemporary oriented discourse on fatal cases in child protection in the context of a new organization of child protection authorities. Both lines have in common that they have not (yet) led to an explicit debate on errors and mistakes in Switzerland. The chapter begins with a short introduction to the Swiss child protection system and summarises how coercive child removals practiced until the mid-20th century have led to harm, injustice, and suffering for many children and their families. It describes how a historical appraisal of these experiences led to a debate on abusive practices under the cover of child protection, which prompted a Federal Act entitling survivors to reparation payments. The chapter further depicts the discourses and developments preceding a reform of the legislation on child and adult protection in the Swiss Civil Code in 2013. The new legislation aimed at professionalising child protection proceedings and decision-making, and included a pivotal shift from lay to professional decision-making bodies. The current state of this process, which has led to criticism on the part of politicians, the public, and the media particularly with regard to negative or fatal outcomes of child protection cases, is analysed and discussed. Strategies for avoiding and dealing with errors and mistakes are described. Using this background, the need for an explicit discourse on errors and mistakes in child protection in Switzerland is outlined.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:07 Feb 2021 11:42
Last Modified:07 Feb 2021 11:43
Publisher:Policy Press
ISBN:9781447350705
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvz0h8bh.15
Related URLs: (Library Catalogue)

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