Social intervention

Child protection systems: an international comparison of good practice

This project compared different case studies relating to the national child protection systems employed in Australia, UK, Finland, Sweden, and Germany and examined the various experiences associated with these. A comparison of the changes made to the child protection system of each country showed that there is a convergence of learning in respect to historical developments between nations with a social welfare ethos. The nations have sought to convert that ethos into laws and procedures that are designed to balance the rights of parents to privacy against the rights of children to protection. These laws and procedures continue to be informed by an understanding of child development within an ecological context. However, the nations all share a fundamental dilemma with respect to determining at what point the state should intervene to protect the child, as there is evidence that both insufficient and excessive intervention in family life may bring unintended and unwanted consequences. It has been possible to examine shifts over time in the provision of child protection services that reflect the different responses to this central dilemma.

Based on the results of this comparative analysis, the international research team developed proposals for an improved child protection system for Switzerland, which were evaluated by an interdisciplinary panel of experts. Central governments have a key function in creating a balanced combination of legislation and policies and the project showed that although subject to local variation, such legislation and policies reflect informed and agreed principles and standards, with clear lines of governance and authority. Our recommendations therefore reflect such standards and ideals.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the Swiss federal juvenile criminal justice act

For the purposes of evaluation, we looked at the juvenile criminal justice act and what effects the legal changes would have on young people. Would these prevent offences? Did they provide enhanced protection of the rights of young people during criminal proceedings and while in custody? Our investigations showed that the aims of the legal changes were achieved and that, broadly speaking, the juvenile criminal justice act is being been effectively administered. However, some important innovations such as the provision of mediation and the regulations applying to separation and support during remand have not yet been fully implemented. 

"The development of an evidence-based assessment tool for child protection"

It is the duty of the state to assess the well-being of and level of potential risk to children. However, there is still no systematic tool available with which the necessary assessments can be undertaken. The aim of this project was to develop such an assessment tool based on the most recent research and specialist insight. Its purpose is to improve the professionalism of child protection activities in accordance with the provisions of civil law. Instructions for the systematic use of the instrument will be provided in a manual and its validity and suitability for practical use will be examined in an evaluation study. A digital version of the tool is being developed in cooperation with a private sector partner to increase its applicability. The planned project will involve partners working in the practical sector (child protection agencies and investigative services) in all project phases. Assuming that the results of evaluation are positive, the partners have undertaken to disseminate the instrument as far as they are able on completion of the project, e.g. by including relevant modules and training sessions in the further education courses offered by both institutes of higher education. This project is being jointly undertaken by Bern University of Applied Sciences and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

UBS Optimus Foundation: Secondary analysis of Optimus study research data: Poly-victimisation and its associations in Swiss adolescents

Children and adolescents are in some cases not only victims of violence in a specific context, but experience different forms of violence at the same time. To date, however, it has proved difficult to quantify to what extent this so-called poly-victimisation occurs. This project is designed to analyse the results of the Optimus study of poly-victimisation carried out in Switzerland. The data will be used to reach conclusions on the demographic distribution of poly-victimisation and its effects on the physical and mental health of children and adolescents.