The number of children experiencing domestic violence in Finland has risen, according to the latest school health survey conducted by the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
The survey found about 17.5 percent of boys in the 4th and 5th grades (aged about 10-12) reported having suffered physical violence from a parent or guardian, reflecting a three percent increase compared to a previous study carried out in 2019.
In this year’s survey 14.2 percent of girls in the same age group reported experiences of physical violence at home, up from 10.5 percent in 2019.
Teenagers in the 8th and 9th grades predominantly reported emotional abuse, with up to 42 percent of girls in this age group stating that they had experienced emotional abuse from a parent or guardian. In contrast, boys of the same age reported around half as much emotional abuse as girls.
THL specialist Taina Laajasalo told Yle that there can be negative future consequences if a child experiences a number of physical or mental abuse episodes and does not receive help.
Children who have suffered severe neglect and abuse are significantly more prone to resort to violence later in life or likely to turn to crime.
“For instance, if a child has endured parental substance abuse, parental mental health issues, neglect, and violence, they are significantly more likely to become both victims and perpetrators of violence in adulthood, compared to children without such cumulative experiences,” Laajasalo said.
She also noted the importance of support and assistance being tailored to each child based on their own unique experiences. For instance, in cases of sexual violence, identifying trauma symptoms and offering trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy may significantly improve the child’s chances of recovery.
Barnahaus intervention model hailed by experts
Laajasalo further pointed out that investigations into child violence allegations should not further burden the child.
“Efforts should be made to ensure that everything is as easy as possible for the child, taking into consideration their age and developmental stage,” she said.
In Finland, the Barnahus model serves as a framework for conducting investigations into child violence allegations. This model streamlines the process, collecting the child’s testimony in a single location and enabling all involved parties to access it.
This eliminates the need for the child to repeatedly recount their experiences, such as during various stages of a police investigation or interactions with health and child protection professionals.
A number of Finnish hospitals feature forensic psychology or forensic psychiatry units for children and adolescents, which are accessed following official requests for police assistance.
Finland sees between 1,000 and 1,200 such assistance requests every year.
Source : YLE