Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) has said the government is preparing an initiative aimed at tackling bullying and youth marginalisation as she expressed her "deep shock" at the suspected killing of a 16-year-old boy by three other teenagers in the Koskela district of Helsinki earlier this month.
"Bullying is, in the worst cases, a very criminal activity. We have already discussed this issue between ministers, and an action plan against marginalisation and bullying is being prepared by the Ministry of Education and Culture," she added.
Many people in today’s society are doing better than ever before, the minister added, but others are experiencing very serious problems.
"This [suspected killing in Koskela] should by no means happen in a welfare state. I have to ask what drives people to commit such a shocking deed. I extend my condolences to the relatives of the victim," Ohisalo said.
More investment in resources required
According to Ohisalo, police resources were in steady decline from the mid 2000s up until 2017, but the current government is working to reverse that trend.
"We have now strengthened preventive work, a concrete example of which is the Anchor programme," Ohisalo said, referring to the Anchor (Ankkuri in Finnish) team which brings together social workers, youth workers, psychiatric nurses and police to prevent young people from crossing over from risk groups into a cycle of criminal activity.
Ohisalo also acknowledged that the long-standing lack of resources for child protection needs to be addressed.
"Child protection professionals should have more time to look into their cases. I have also suggested that there should be more special care periods available," the minister stated.
A period of special care refers to multidisciplinary efforts to tackle a child’s self-harming behaviour.
Queues have also increased in mental health services for children and young people, Ohisalo noted.
"Early intervention is not only humanely but also financially more sustainable. It is important for the authorities to raise the worrying developments they see through the course of their daily work and to awaken the rest of society, especially politicians, to take into account their own role and responsibility in these matters," the minister said.