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Finns Fear Random Acts of Violence

Yle Uutisten artikkeliarkisto

A new study reveals that more and more Finns are feeling threatened by the possibility of violence. Increasingly people are uneasy about being alone in isolated train platforms or poorly lit parks.

Finns' fear of anonymous violence - being mugged or harassed by drug gangs, for example, has risen by a third since the 1990's.

Women and the elderly feel more threatened than others, even though men are far more frequently targets of violence. Violent incidents have not risen as much as the fear of them. Experts say that the fear factor is more a product of general social unease than a reaction to statistics.

Helsinki is trying to improve its residents' sense of security in several ways - by both tracking actual crime rates and getting to the root causes of people's fears.

In three Helsinki neighbourhoods, a residents' organisation called HELKA is also instituting some changes aimed at easing anxieties.

Project leader Mikko Virkamäki says that many of the changes are cosmetic, such as improving landscaping, lighting, and clearing away debris like beer bottles and syringes. A more pleasant environment improves the social well-being of the community by encouraging community activity and making it uncomfortable for those who would prefer the privacy of shadows.

Despite growing fears, Finns nonetheless feel fairly secure by international standards, even though there is quite a lot of violence considering the small population.

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