Parental partner violence: better protection for affected children

Bern, 22.01.2024 - A new study commissioned by the Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE) and the Swiss Conference against Domestic Violence sheds light on the situation of children affected by violence in parental relationships. Specific recommendations show how existing gaps in support services can be closed and how the protection of affected children in Switzerland can be improved.

Every year, around 27,000 children in Switzerland experience intimate partner violence. These children witness violence between their parents and are therefore permanently exposed to a climate of fear. This has a negative impact on their physical and mental health, but also on their educational and social development.

The new study ‘Support services and protective measures for children exposed to violence in parental relationships' takes stock and formulates recommendations to improve the situation for affected children in Switzerland. The study by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, the University of Fribourg and the HES-SO School of Social Work is published by the FOGE and the Swiss Conference against Domestic Violence.

Stocktaking shows potential for improvement

The study found that although there are various specific child protection and psycho-social support services in Switzerland, the children affected do not have access to such services in all cantons. Cooperation and procedures are not uniformly regulated and funding varies from canton to canton.

The study also shows that violence in parental relationships is only partially and not systematically investigated in separation, marriage protection and divorce proceedings. For example, joint parental custody is usually awarded even if there are indications of violence. The study also identifies potential for improvement in cooperation between child and adult protection authorities (CAPA) and civil courts. 

Enabling access to services, raising awareness in relevant professional groups

Based on this stocktaking, the study formulates 18 standards and lists 10 examples of good practice. These show how prompt contact can be established and how affected children can receive psychosocial support. The examples are intended to serve as a basis for the development of corresponding services in the cantons.

The study recommends that the relevant professional groups - for example judges, lawyers and representatives of the authorities - receive training and further education on the effects of violence in parental relationships on children. In addition, guidelines for the systematic investigation of violence in parental relationships in separation and divorce proceedings should be introduced and cooperation between the institutions should be improved.

Continued commitment against violence

The Federal Council emphasises that all forms of violence go against the best interests of the child. Combating and preventing all types of domestic violence are among its top priorities.

This study is part of Switzerland's National Action Plan for the Implementation of the Istanbul Convention 2022-2026 (NAP IC), which was adopted by the Federal Council in 2022. The aim of the NAP IC is to reduce violence against women and domestic violence and increase the personal safety of the population with 44 specific measures by the federal government, cantons and communes.

Address for enquiries

Federal Office for Gender Equality
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3003 Bern


Federal Office for Gender Equality

General Secretariat FDHA