Lexicon

A C D H K L O P S T V

A

Accused young people

You are considered an accused person if the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed a crime. The police will then begin proceedings against you. You are considered innocent until the process is completed or until it is proven that you did not commit a crime.

As an accused person, you have certain rights. You must be informed of what you are being accused of, and you must be informed of your rights. You also have the right to a lawyer. A lawyer helps you with the process and is on your side. He or she is there to advise you, and they can also represent you. If you are able to make your own decisions, you can look for a lawyer yourself. Or your parents can do this for you. If you don’t know anyone or your parents don’t have the money, the court must provide you with a lawyer.

Do you have questions about your rights, or are you unsure of what to expect? Then give us a call!

C

If you endanger yourself through your own actions, the KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority) must ensure that nothing happens to you. In such cases, the KESB has the option of ordering care-related hospitalisation. In Switzerland, care-related hospitalisation is often shortened to “FU”, which stands for Fürsorgerische Unterbringung.

Perhaps “FU” is what you usually hear during discussions about the topic. With care-related hospitalisation, you are placed in a secure institution or psychiatric hospital. Even if that’s not what you want. You have to stay there until you are better. However, you or your parents have the option to take action against this decision.

Child advocate

Child advocate is another word for the legal representative of the child. You can find out more in the section “Legal representation of the child / Legal representation for children”.

Child procedural representative

Child procedural representative is another word for the legal representative of the child. You can find out more in the section “Legal representation of the child / Legal representation for children”.

Child protection

An important task of the KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority) is child protection. The KESB is there to protect you from dangers. For example, a danger is: If you are beaten, or if someone sexually abuses you or subjects you to psychological abuse.

There are also dangers that you may not perceive as dangers. You might like it that your parents let you do what you want. This also means, for example, that they don’t notice when you don’t go to school. However, it is important that your parents look after you and that you complete your schooling. In such situations, the KESB will become involved.

If the KESB intervenes, some people who you don’t know may suddenly appear in your life. They have your best interests at heart. For you and your family, it may feel like they are interfering. That it is none of their business. Do you have questions about this? Then give us a call!

You have the right to be protected from dangers.That is why the KESB must take action if they become aware of a danger. The KESB then initiates child protection procedures. You have the right to express your opinion about this. The employees of the KESB must always inform you in a manner that is appropriate for your age. Every time they make a decision, they must explain to you the reasons that are behind it. In some situations, you may be represented by a legal representative. We can advise and help you.

Child representative

Child representative is another word for the legal representative of the child. You can find out more in the section “Legal representation of the child / Legal representation for children”.

D

Divorce

If your parents separate and get divorced, many things need to be reorganised. Who will you and your siblings live with? When will you be able to see the other parent? But it is also about which parents keep which household items. Or who has to pay money to the other person. The parents discuss all of these issues in court with a judge.

If your parents are able to agree, they will quickly find a good solution. However, there may also be conflict between your parents. Then they will need the help of a lawyer and a judge. If they are unable to agree, the court will make the final decision.

It is very important to remember: You are allowed to have a say in decisions that affect you. Then it doesn’t matter whether your parents still get along with each other or if they are arguing. You can tell them what your wishes are and how you can be helped to feel better. After all, it’s also about you.

The judge will also invite you to an interview and ask you what you want. There, you will have the opportunity to express your wishes. And you can also ask questions. You don’t have to go to this interview if you don’t want. It may help if you bring someone you trust with you to the interview. For example, your godfather or godmother.

Do you feel like nobody is listening to you at all? Did you not receive an invitation to an interview from the judge? Or do you have questions about your parents’ divorce? Then give us a call!

H

Hearings

Are your parents getting divorced and a decision has to be made about where you will live? Are you experiencing problems at home and have to move to a foster family? Or are you having trouble at school and have to change schools?

Whenever it’s about you, it is important that you are listened to and that your opinion matters. This is your right. If a court or the KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority) makes a decision that involves you, they must ask you for your opinion. That’s why they invite you to a hearing. At the hearing, you will be listened to and you can ask questions.

Here is an example of how a court hearing works:

You receive an invitation to a hearing from the court. You make an appointment and you visit the court on the agreed time and date. There, you meet the people who are also present for the hearing. This is usually a judge and a person who takes notes of the conversation. Sometimes there are more people or fewer people. The judge asks you how you are and what you would like to happen. But you are also allowed to talk about other things that you find important. If you have questions, you are able to ask them.

You may even feel anxious about the hearing. If so, you should think beforehand about what you really want to say or ask. During a conversation, if you don’t know the answer to a question or if you don’t want to answer something, you can say so. You are allowed to express your opinion. But you don’t have to if you don’t want.

One person takes notes of the conversation. Would you like certain things to remain private? Then you can say that.

The judge cannot always make decisions in the way that you would like. Nevertheless, it is important that your wishes are known. This will help the judge to find the best solution for you and your parents.

  • Have you not received an invitation to a hearing or an interview?
  • But you want to give your opinion and don’t know how?
  • Or do you have questions for before or after a hearing?

Then give us a call!

K

KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority)

KESB is short for Kindes- und Erwachsenenschutzbehörde (Child and Adult Protection Authority). Perhaps “KESB” this is what you mostly hear during conversations. The KESB is an official agency and its job is to protect children and adults. The KESB helps everyone who is unable to take care of themselves.

Women and men from many different professions work at the KESB. They are specialists and have a great deal of knowledge. This means that if there is a problem, the KESB can find the best solution for you.

The KESB will help you and your family if you are unable to solve a problem yourself. Someone from the KESB will look at the situation together with you and decide how it can provide you with the best possible help. The KESB can order child protection measures. You have a right to be informed about this. How does it work? What are your rights? The KESB must listen to your opinion and include this in their decision-making.

  • Is the KESB not listening to what you have to say?
  • Do you not agree with a decision from the KESB?
  • Or do you have any questions on the topic?

Then give us a call!

You can find the address of the KESB that is responsible for you here
 

L

Legal guardian is another word for the legal representative of the child. You can find out more in the section “Legal representation of the child / Legal representation for children”. 

Perhaps you have heard the terms child advocate, child representative, child procedural representative as well as procedural advocate or process advocate. All of these have essentially the same meaning, namely that they are lawyers for children. However, we always talk about the legal representation of the child.

Legal representatives for children are tasked with supporting and representing you during legal procedures with any (difficult) legal issues. For example, if: 

  • your parents are unable to agree on very important issues and perhaps they are arguing a lot. Or perhaps they are separating or divorcing and both want you to live with them most of the time.
  • your parents are unable to represent you on legal issues because they are suffering from ill health. Or maybe they can’t represent you because they do not understand the language or the culture enough to help.
  • it is an extremely personal and important question and your parents have a different opinion from you.
  • you have been summoned by the police, juvenile court or public prosecutor’s office. (Find out more in the section accused young people)

At the first meeting, your legal representative will listen to you and find out what the issue is about. Then you discuss your situation together and the legal representative will explain the options that you now have. Together, you decide on the next steps. Everything that you discuss with your legal representative is confidential. This means that we will not share your information with anyone else without your consent.

Usually, legal representatives can talk about anything and everything with young people and older children. With smaller children, however, this is sometimes not so easy. Then, the legal representative has to try other ways of finding out what the child wants. The legal representatives will always stand up for the rights of children and young people, no matter how old they are. They are there so that your wishes and needs are heard by the adults.

It is important to know that your legal representative is not your parents’ lawyer or the lawyer for a public authority. He or she may talk to your parents but they will always only represent you and your interests.

If you feel that you need legal representation or if you are not sure about what to do, then give us a call. We will be happy to discuss the situation with you. Maybe we can already help you without legal representation. And if not, we can explain in more detail what legal representatives do and how you can apply for legal representation.

Sometimes, for example, the judges or the KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authorities) make the decision that you need legal representation. In these cases, they will find somebody for you. If you have a social worker (Beistand), he or she can also apply for legal representation for you.

Legal representation will not cost you anything for you. Either your parents can pay for you or, if they don’t have enough money, they can apply for financial assistance to help with the costs.

Litigation guardian

Litigation guardian is another word for the legal representative of the child. You can find out more in the section “Legal representation of the child / Legal representation for children”.

O

Ombuds Office

The KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority), social workers, courts and the police are there to provide you with help and support and to safeguard your rights. However, there are also times when things do not work as they should. Sometimes it might be difficult for you to understand what the professionals want from you and your family. Or you don’t get any answers at all to your questions.

Then you may have questions such as:

  • What are my rights?
  • What are the KESB, the court and the police allowed to do?
  • How can I defend myself if I do not agree with a decision?
  • Where can I get more information if I don’t understand something?

Or maybe you are experiencing feelings such as:

  • Nobody listens to me.
  • I can’t say what I want to happen.
  • I’m not taken seriously.
  • I’m afraid of what will happen.
  • Nobody is supporting me.

If you have such questions or feelings, the Ombuds Office Children’s Rights is there for you. We will discuss the situation together with you and consider the support that you need. We will give you answers to your questions. Or we will tell you where you can find answers. We serve as an intermediary between you and the professionals. We prepare you for discussions and make sure you understand your rights. Talking to us is free and confidential. That means: If you don’t want, we won’t tell anyone what you have told us. Also, we will not take any action without discussing it with you. You decide what you want to say and ask. And what help you want. We will always be happy to speak to you first. Because it’s about you! If you want, and if it helps you, we will talk to other people. For example, with your parents, your social worker or other people in your life.

P

Placement

Sometimes, the problems in a family are so great that children and young people are no longer able to live at home. Perhaps your parents are unable to cope or they are seriously ill. Or the tension or conflict between you and your parents is so bad that you can no longer live together.

In such cases, foster care can offer a solution, and the KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority) will look – together with you – for another place for you to live. For example, this might be a foster family or a home (an institution).

S

Social worker (Beistand)

The KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority) can appoint a social worker for you. The social worker is there to support you and your family in whichever way you require help. This might be something different for every family. Perhaps the social worker will regularly visit you at home to help you keep things tidier and cleaner. Or you can decide on arrangements so that visits to your father or mother are as frequent as possible.

Either way, it is important that your social worker visits you regularly. This will enable you to talk about the situation. If you have a question, you can raise it yourself.

Do you feel that your social worker is not listening to you or does not understand you? Or do you have other questions about this topic? Then give us a call!

T

Threats to your safety

Maybe someone around you feels that you are in danger and need help. In such cases, the person can report this to the KESB (Child and Adult Protection Authority). They then file an endangerment report (Gefährdungsmeldung). These people may be friends, relatives or neighbours. But teachers and doctors can also contact the KESB.

If you need help, you can also contact the KESB yourself. You can go in person, call or write an email or letter.

In the event of such a report, the KESB must clarify that you are really in danger. There are very different ways of doing this. Maybe someone will first talk with you alone or together with your parents. In some cases, the KESB may require more information. Then, it is possible that someone will talk to your teacher. They may also require an expert opinion. The KESB must make every effort to find out how they can help you.

Perhaps the KESB understands that you are really in danger. They will then initiate child protection measures. They will explain to you and your parents what is being done. You may receive family support, for example. Or your parents may have to keep to certain arrangements and rules.

V

Visiting rights

If your parents don’t live together, then it is unlikely that you will be able to see them both equally often. You probably live mostly either with your mother or with your father. And you visit the other parent at the weekend, for example. The time you spend with the other parent is called visiting time.

If your parents separate or divorce, one of the most important questions to ask is: Who will you mostly live with in the future? How the visiting hours of the other parent are arranged is just as important. For example, it must be decided:

  • How often will you visit the other parent?
  • How will the holidays be divided?
  • Who will you spend Christmas with?

Families deal with these questions in many different ways. But whatever the way, it is vital that you also have your say. After all, at the end of the day it’s about you.

If your parents still get along well, you can find a solution all together. If you are unable to find a solution, the court or KESB (Child and Adult Protection Service) will make a decision for you.

Both you and your parents have visiting rights. Meaning that you have the right to visit your parents, and your parents have the right for you to visit them. This means that you may sometimes have to visit them when you don’t feel like it or when you would rather do something else.

Sometimes there is tension or conflict, or after a certain time the arrangements for visits are no longer suitable. In such cases, the KESB can decide on a new arrangement. Or they can appoint a social worker, who can support you with the visiting rights (Besuchsrechtsbeistand).

Accompanied visiting rights: Perhaps the situation is very difficult between you and the parent you are visiting. Perhaps you have experienced violence in the past, or you haven’t seen each other for many years. In such cases, the KESB can order accompanied visiting. This means that you will not be alone when you meet your mother or father. There is always someone with you who can support you.