Violence & Abuse

Closed facilities and secluded welfare institutions, insufficient control and supervision: all of this promoted violence and abuse in a society that for a long time offered little space for individual lifestyles.

© Our Faces – Our Stories, 2022

Dependent and Abused

Psychological, physical and sexual violence was part of everyday life for many of those affected by compulsory social measures.

For a long time, corporal punishment was widespread in the upbringing of minors and still is not explicitly forbidden in Switzerland. Indeed, there were early approaches to a non-violent upbringing: individuals or the media repeatedly reported on cases of abuse, but in the end the perpetrators were often protected and the victims themselves blamed for the violence they had experienced. Supervision and control, if they existed, failed. ...

Sexual Violence in Court – a Rare Case

In the 1940s, in Bad Knutwil, Lucerne, monks of the local “juvenile correction facility” faced trial. They were accused of sexual abuse of adolescents. However, they were by no means the only perpetrators of this kind, but among the few who had to answer for it in court.

“Juvenile Correction Facility”, Knutwil-Bad (around 1930)

The reports of systematic sexual violence against adolescents in the “juvenile correction facility” in Knutwil by monks and priests in the 1940s were not the only ones. Abuses, and at least one suicide that was connected to them, are also known to have occurred during the following years until the withdrawal of the monks from La Salle 1973. ...

The Criticism is Getting Louder

For a long time, the criticism of the neglect und violence during placement in a home or foster care was hardly to be heard. The “Home Campaign” at beginning of the 1970s demonstrates the will to reform that began at that time.

In the mid-1970s, the Swiss daily newspaper “Blick” devoted a two-part series to the question of why adolescents fled from the juvenile correction facility “Tessenberg” in the canton of Bern. Critical reports had already been published in earlier decades. However, they did not lead to fundamental reforms. Before the “Blick” series, the magazines “Sie + Er”, “Beobachter” and “Team” had already reported critically on the conditions in Swiss educational institutions in 1970. This media criticism of the authoritarian upbringing in homes became known as “Home Campaign” and is an expression of the urgency and call for fundamental changes in the home system at that time and was also shown on Swiss TV.

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