The Ministry of Health is publishing its plans to combat the sexual exploitation of children

The Ministry of Health is publishing its plans to combat the sexual exploitation of children

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has published a 33-step action plan to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

The strategy, which includes cooperation between parents, teachers, law enforcement authorities and other organizations, is part of Finland’s obligation to comply with the EU Convention, which aims to combat all forms of sexual exploitation of children.

The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse – commonly referred to as the Lanzarote Convention – defines how European states should legislate "prevent sexual violence, protect child victims and prosecute perpetrators."

Finland signed the agreement in 2007 and ratified it in 2011. The Ministry’s action plan is to be implemented in 2022–2025.

The key to cooperation

According to the ministry, co-operation between adults responsible for child protection is central to the strategy. Its 33-step action plan includes measures such as improving sexual education for young people and providing age-appropriate material on safe practices.

The plan also recommends that police investigations into crimes against children be monitored regularly and "Whereas the criminal record of adults involved in children’s and young people’s hobbies and leisure activities must be reviewed;" according to a ministry release on Wednesday.

The ministry also announced plans to launch a website "against bullying, harassment, discrimination, violence and hate speech."

Abuse statistics

According to the ministry, about eight percent of fourth- and fifth-graders and about 30 percent of eighth- and ninth-graders experienced some form of sexual harassment last year.

Referring to various school health surveys and related studies, the ministry said two percent of fourth- and fifth-grade students and nine percent of eighth- and ninth-graders had been sexually abused by 2021.

After hearing children aged 15-17, the ministry said young people wanted adults to talk to children about sexual abuse clearly and telling them what was right and what was wrong, in a way that was appropriate for them.

According to the ministry, the young people hoped that the adults would help them stay hopeful and provide support in seeking help, in situations of assault.

The young people also said they would like more preventive measures and low-threshold access to help, according to the ministry.

Source: The Nordic Page

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