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Data helps to combat violence against children


Author Marjo Malja, Johanna Laaja

Children have the right to live free from violence. Based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, our societal task is to act in a way that ensures this. Combating violence against children requires data on what kind of violence children experience. We need data about perpetrators and victims of violence as well as the effects of violence.

Data is needed for multiple purposes and to serve as the basis for various decisions. For example, right now society needs a strong knowledge base on what street violence among young people is actually like in Finland.

We also need monitoring data to understand how effective the measures taken to combat violence are. However, a knowledge base and especially monitoring data cannot be acquired overnight, but instead, they must be produced on a continuous basis.

In Finland, we work to combat violence in a determined and systematic manner through cooperation. Joint plans and measures of various administrative branches help to address the identified shortcomings more effectively than any party could do on its own. It is important that dispersed data on violence against children is brought together and a shared situation picture is created and updated constantly.

The National Child Strategy identifies violence against children as one of the key areas where measures are needed. Finland has in place its own action plan for the prevention of violence against children titled Non-Violent Childhoods. This action plan contains 96 practical measures for combating violence against children. As part of the implementation of the action plan, a separate working group on the knowledge base was set up to discuss why data on violence against children is needed and what this data is used for.

The child victim survey, which is one of the key measures concerning the knowledge base, can be carried out during this government term by using the appropriation allocated for health promotion. During the previous government term, the survey was carried out as part of the National Child Strategy. Cooperation has also made these measures possible.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare publishes a publication series Päätösten tueksi (For supporting decisions), the latest issue of which (2/2024)(you’re moving to another site) provides more ideas on how to strengthen the knowledge base on violence against children and young people. 

Marjo Malja, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Chair of the Steering Group on Non-Violent Childhoods

Johanna Laaja, Chief Specialist, National Child Strategy