Prevention of youth exclusion and crime as a common goal of the city, the police, third sector actors and stakeholders

At the invitation of Mayor Juhana Vartiainen, a second roundtable discussion on the prevention of youth exclusion and crime was held in Helsinki on Tuesday 11 June. A wide range of third sector actors and key stakeholders as well as representatives of the Helsinki Police Department participated in the discussion.
Basketball players in front of Oodi Helsinki Central Library.
The city continues to ensure safe spaces and interesting activities for young people even after the school day. Photo: Mikael Kuitunen

“In its preventive work, the city needs the help of the police, as well as those who work with young people. We value this close cooperation very highly and also strive to provide resources to these actors. We also consider it important that the feeling of being excluded from society can be prevented or interrupted. Among others, this helps reduce the influence of gangs on young people and young adults. In order to increase participation, it is important for us to provide stronger support for guardians in parenthood and upbringing,“ says Mayor Vartiainen. 

The event included an overview of the various actors’ viewpoints on the manifestations of youth distress and juvenile delinquency, as well as how the city and different actors can work together more effectively to prevent these problems. Multidisciplinary cooperation can still be an effective way to tackle the growing incidence of youth distress and juvenile delinquency in Finland and Helsinki. 

Close cooperation between different parties, early intervention and helping the young person’s whole family important

The participants of the event considered it important to intensify cooperation in addition to separate measures. According to all the parties, one of the key factors in prevention is to strengthen the inclusion of young people and their families and to identify and help high-risk young people at a sufficiently early stage. The aim is also to involve families to a greater extent at the very first signs of problems affecting their children’s lives. 

The city has at its disposal a wide range of services and means to prevent young people’s problems, increase their experience of inclusion, improve emotional and interaction skills and support integration. The number of the city’s Toivo (Hope) teams working with the police and organisations has been increased. 

In addition to traditional cooperation with guardians, new ways are needed to build a closer dialogue. According to the experience of the Education Division, guardians hope for more peer-based working models guided by professionals. The meetings provide a venue for discussing matters of concern related to the young person’s life. 

The city must continue to ensure safe spaces and interesting activities for young people even after the school day. The Finnish Model for Leisure Activities offers free leisure activities during the school day, but that alone is not enough. Here, too, cooperation with organisational actors is valuable. The strong message of the organisations is that children and young people must feel that they belong to Helsinki and their own educational institution. Supporting friendships, peer support and preventing loneliness are key. 

The discussion organised in June was a continuation of a similar event organised by Mayor Juhana Vartiainen last November. The group is committed to continuous overview and cooperation meetings also in the future.

The discussion was attended by representatives from the Helsinki Police Department, the Criminal Sanctions Agency, Aseman Lapset ry, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, Save the Children Finland, the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, Icehearts Finland, the Kide foundation, the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Helsinki, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, HelsinkiMissio and the Finnish Muslim Forum. Also present were representatives from the City of Helsinki’s Education Division, Culture and Leisure Division and Social Services, Health Care and Rescue Services Division, for example. 

In all its activities, the city emphasises zero tolerance for racism, hate speech and violence.