Violence against children and its prevention
The authorities work to prevent violence against children in many ways and in broad cooperation with various parties. The key national plans coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health include the Non-Violent Childhoods Action Plan and the National Action Plan for the Lanzarote Convention. The national implementation of the Istanbul Convention has an impact on children and families, and the National Child Strategy includes measures to combat violence against children.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health also participates in the work against violence coordinated by other ministries. This includes the internal security work led by the Ministry of the Interior, the crime prevention work led by the Ministry of Justice and the National Youth Work and Youth Policy Programme led by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The Non-Violent Childhood Action Plan was designed to prevent violence against children under 18 years of age. The Action Plan covers both psychological and physical violence as well as sexual violence. A steering group appointed by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare guides and monitors the Action Plan. All key ministries and a large number of other organisations, including many NGOs, take part in the implementation of the Action Plan.
- Non-Violent Childhood – Action Plan for the Prevention of Violence against Children 2020−2025
- Non-Violent Childhood 2020–2025 – implementation and communication
- Non-Violent Childhood Action Plan – Interim evaluation from 2020 to early 2023 (description sheet in English)
- Non-Violent Childhood Action Plan – Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL)
National implementation of the Lanzarote Convention
The Lanzarote Convention is the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS 201). Finland ratified the Lanzarote Convention in 2011 (by Decree 88/2011). Finland’s first National Action Plan for the Lanzarote Convention covers the years 2022–2025.
The Action Plan includes a total of 33 measures, which are divided into the following three themes:
- prevention of violence
- protection of children against violence and
- promotion of national and international cooperation against sexual exploitation and sexual violence.
The Action Plan draws attention to prevention in all situations. The Action Plan was prepared by a cross-sectoral working group, which also continues as a working group monitoring the implementation of the Action Plan during the whole 2022–2025 period.
In Finland, the wellbeing services counties are responsible for investigating sexual and assault offences, and investigations have been centralised by law so that they are carried out in connection with the five university hospitals. This work is constantly being developed by using the international Barnahus Quality Standards.
In the Barnahus model, healthcare and social welfare professionals, the police and the prosecutor collaborate closely with each other to ensure not only the investigation but also the support and care provided to children and their families. Cooperation between healthcare and social welfare, police and prosecution authorities also makes it possible for different professionals to receive support in the form of training and consultation in order to collaborate in a child-oriented manner.
Since 2019, the Barnahus work has been coordinated nationally at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the police and the National Prosecution Authority by using separate funding from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The National Action Plan for the Lanzarote Convention for 2022–2025 stresses the key role of the Barnahus work in implementing the measures set out in the Action Plan.
- The Act on Organising the Investigation of Sexual and Assault Offences against Children (in Finnish and Swedish)