Swiss high court sends boy to special needs school due to damage caused by overprotective parents

Child's parents 'remove all obstacles' and keep him away from 'everyday learning experiences' including playing with other children

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Switzerland's highest court has ruled that a child must attend a specialist school because his overprotective parents have left him unable to cope in the regular education system.

The boy, from the German-speaking northeastern canton of St Gallen, is unable to do things for himself, child psychologists have said, describing him as having "developmental difficulties".

School psychologists claimed the seven-year-old's parents had “removed all obstacles” and kept him away from everyday learning experiences, such as playing with other children, the Swiss newspaper Sonntags Zeitung reported.

The experts said the boy, named in the Swiss press only as Marko, was unable to cope in a regular school environment as a result of his pampered life. 

Marko’s parents, however, have rejected the psychologists’ report, claiming their son had a “normal childhood”, according to the Local.

Fearing attending a special school could be detrimental to their son's development, the couple took their case to the Federal Civil Court in Lausanne, but the original decision was upheld. 

Now the parents intend to pursue their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The court ruling comes shortly after the publication of a report by Swiss children's foundation Pro Juventute, which revealed most children in Switzerland spent little or no time playing outside without supervision.

“While children in the 1970s spent a great deal of their free time outside and were active for three to four hours a day, the situation today is a lot more gloomy”, the organisation said in a statement.

On average, children in German-speaking Switzerland spend just 32 minutes a day outside unsupervised, while for those in the French-speaking part of the country it is only 20 minutes.

The study of 649 families, by researchers at the University of Fribourg, found a third of children were not allowed to play outside without adult supervision, and 15 per cent did not play outdoors at all.

“Physical activity and free play benefit children’s physical health as well as their mental well-being, language, emotions and social behaviour,” said Urs Kiener, of Pro Juventute.