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Calm school-end festivities expected: "Today's youth are very enlightened"

This weekend more than 160,000 young people are celebrating the end of the school year in Finland. Police will be keeping an eye on them, but note that underage drinking has become much less common in recent years.

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"The youth of today have other sources of fun besides alcohol," says Chief Inspector Marko Hiltula. Image: Yle

School pupils around Finland are celebrating the start of summer holidays on Saturday. Some 58,000 children have completed comprehensive schools this spring, while about 27,000 have graduated from academic high schools with baccalaureate qualifications, allowing them to go on to universities. Meanwhile more than 77,000 youngsters have completed vocational school training. Nearly 13,000 of these have already started their professional careers through apprenticeship training.

Naturally, these more than 160,000 young people are celebrating this weekend – and as usual under the watchful eye of police. Law enforcement agencies have arranged stepped-up monitoring of end-of-school weekend festivities since 2010. The focus is on restraining the use of alcohol and drugs by youngsters, particularly minors.

Clear drop in alcohol and criminal citations

Statistics over those seven years show clear declines in end-of-term substance abuse. The number of young people suspected of criminal violations during the first weekend of summer has dropped by nearly 40 percent since 2010. Most citations are related to possession of alcohol.

"Binge drinking – or drinking in general – is no longer so popular among the youth of today. I think they're very enlightened and they have other sources of fun besides alcohol," says Chief Inspector Marko Hiltula of the Lapland Police Department.

He also credits better cooperation among authorities for the improved situation.

"Nowadays when a minor is found in possession of alcohol, police practically always file a precise child welfare report, but the number of these has also clearly declined," he says.

Hiltula predicts that chilly weather with a cold northern wind this weekend will limit outdoor partying.

"Probably most police interventions will take place indoors this weekend due to the conditions," he tells Yle.

"I expect a number of loud house parties – and I hope that neighbours have patience to just put up with that to some extent."

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