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Immigrant children face racism

Foreign-looking kids in Finland are often the target of verbal abuse, says Save the Children Finland.

Koululaisia kirjoittamassa liitutaululle.
Image: Yle

“Following recent public debate on racism, people have phoned in and told us about their experiences, for example, how a dark-skinned 10 year-old was purposely shoved on the bus and no one did anything,” Satu Kanninen of the organisation told Yle’s morning show on Thursday.

According to Kanninen, adults may also question visibly ethnic children’s right to be in this country.

“One boy said he had experienced racism at the doctor’s office.”

Being the target of racism can affect a child’s identity.

”Some kids develop special coping mechanisms—like avoiding certain streets where they know they’ll be shouted at.”

Save the Children says it has tried to understand how adults can justify bullying children.

”Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that children are defenseless,” she said.

Certain surveys suggest that the majority of people in the Nordics are positive towards immigrants. But Kanninen says attitudes towards newcomers have toughened in a challenging economy.

“It seems racist talk has become more acceptable."

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