Dilan has known for a long time that he wants to live with his father. Since his parents separated, he has lived with his mother and her boyfriend. There are constant arguments at home, the new partner has rejected Dilan and has acted violently. Often, lots of alcohol is involved. Caught in the middle is Dilan, and he is only 9 years old. How can he assert himself against his mother’s wishes and move in with his father?
As a victim of school bullying, Maria experienced an entirely different but equally stressful situation. She was the inspiration behind our new info film, which you can watch below.
The film illustrates how the support given to a child impacts their lives and surroundings, and how this same support is helping to make our legal system more child-friendly, one step at a time.
As a national ombuds office, we advise children and young people on all manner of legal issues:
- Is there a risk of expulsion from school?
- Is a child refusing medical treatment?
- Are there disagreements about where a child should live or about visitation rights following a divorce?
- Is the child required to make a statement to the police?
- Are there problems with the migration authorities?
Our advisors inform children and young people about their rights. They also help, listen and serve as an intermediary between the children and involved professionals, and look for solutions together with the child.
In Dilan's case, we were able to show him the legal options and we encouraged him to confide his concerns to the KESB. The people at the KESB listened to Dilan's wishes, reassessed his situation on the basis of his statements and adapted the stipulations about his place of residence, meaning that Dilan could live with his father.
Every one of our consultations benefits not only the respective child but also the entire system – it is also our job to sensitise the justice system, administrative bodies and policy makers to child rights issues. We pass on our insights and expertise to the federal government, cantons and municipalities, indicate areas of action and gaps in the law, and work to incorporate our practical experience in specialist professional education and training.
Small but powerful!
It is vital for children and young people to experience their concerns being taken seriously and to have the opportunity to participate in decisions that involve them personally. In this way, they come to understand that they too have rights and are not at the mercy of adults. They realise: “I can change something!” This boosts their self-confidence and helps them to cope with difficult life situations – then and later.
November 20th was International Children's Rights Day. This is an issue that concerns all of us! Regardless of whether we have children or grandchildren ourselves, it is our job to protect the least powerful in society.
So if you notice something in your neighbourhood, at a sports club, at work or wherever you may be, don’t look away. Ask for explanations and intervene when children are in distress. And draw the attention of those around you to the Ombuds Office Children’s Rights. In the event of an emergency, please call 147, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Only together can we make our society more child-friendly – step by step.