In practical terms, how do we help children and young people? What does it mean when we guarantee children's procedural rights by mediating between professionals and children? To familiarise you with our work, we are introducing a series of narratives that describe recurrent - and thus typical - examples of our counselling activity. The importance and necessity of the Ombuds Office Children's Rights is highlighted through these brief glimpses into the lives of children and young people.
Children and young people can contact us directly at any time for legal support through childrensombudsoffice.ch. Our experts offer advice and help them to assert their rights. This is how Fabian came to us for counselling.
How Fabian arrived at the supervised living community
Fabian contacted the Ombuds Office Children's Rights. The teenager had been living for about a year with a relative who took him in after Fabian had argued violently with one of his parents.
The teenager was not doing well and was having suicidal thoughts. Fabian was suffering greatly from his new living circumstances with his relative, which were marked by violent quarrels. Moreover, the ongoing conflicts with his family precluded his returning there.
How we supported Fabian
After Fabian contacted us, a counselling meeting was arranged with the Ombuds Office Children's Rights. Fabian explained his situation and asked the counsellor to indicate possible solutions. She assured him of his right to information, explaining that he was entitled to rely on the Ombuds Office Children's Rights. She explained the role and duties of the Parents' Association. She also outlined the APEA procedure, informed him of his rights in this process and provided him with the address of a youth counselling centre in his area. The Ombuds Office Children's Rights acts to ensure that no delays occur and that the young person receives immediate help.
Fabian then turned to the APEA, which initiated proceedings on behalf of Fabian. Explanations and discussions with all participants revealed that the youth was suffering greatly from his circumstances and feeling emotional pressure. It was evident from all this that a solution within the family was not feasible at that moment. In the end, Fabian was placed in a supervised living community because of his right to a caring home. Placement away from his family soon proved to be the right solution: his psychological health and general situation with his family members showed lasting improvement after his move into the home. The prompt assistance provided by the Ombuds Office Children's Rights prevented the escalation of disputes and avoided endangerment of the child's life.
Applying children's rights in practice
This example illustrates how we were able to advise Fabian of his rights related to his specific situation, enabling him to build resilience through his sense of self-efficacy and to assert his rights to obtain information, avert delays, live in a caring home and enjoy protection and safety throughout the process.
* Names and descriptions have been changed to protect the personal rights and privacy of the individuals involved.