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Thursday's papers: Teachers' psychological workload, Lutheran godparent scarcity, slipshod tyre fraud

Dailies look at teacher expectations, young people turning from the church and one man stealing 47 sets of car tyres.

Kastemalja ja pyyhe.
Finland is becoming more secular by the year. Image: AOP

While the Finnish government begins to take shape, dailies turn to other issues of the day such as a new psychological service structure in basic education that is pushing teachers to their limits.

Tampere region paper Aamulehti wrote that the Finnish Association for Mental Health (Mieli) has developed a far-reaching programme called Lapset puheeksi ("Let's talk about children"), which seeks to bolster the mental health services children receive in daycare and in comprehensive education. The system involves verbal discussion and gauging the strengths and challenges faced by young people.

Some municipalities have already instituted the service structure, but the Finnish Teachers' Association spoke out against the execution of the otherwise positive initiative.

"There is widespread worry over the mental health of children, teenagers and families in Finland," the association's release is quoted in AL. "The child-centred method is a tangible possibility for supporting families, but it is imperative to consider whose should undertake the responsibility of producing this type of service."

Teachers said that their work is already grueling, and that no new responsibilities should be instituted before the workload is first lightened in some other way. The Mieli programme has also been criticised as being overly bureaucratic and cut-and-dry, wrote AL, and the teachers' association indicated that social workers would be better candidates for the new outreach method.

"If a teacher notices a child having trouble, they will involve themselves even without an unwieldy guidance protocol. The current system works because help is offered as it is needed, not based on artificial time limits or an outside system."

Secularism leads to godparent shortage

More and more young people are leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland or growing up non-religious, and it is affecting the traditional institution of godfathers and godmothers.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote that new parents who want to christen their child via a Lutheran ritual also need to find two godparents for the infant; each godparent must also be a member of the church, which is posing problems in the religious community.

The paper reported that the church's General Synod in its meeting over Tuesday and Wednesday discussed the possibility of bringing the minimum number of godparents down to just one. Currently single godparenthood requires special permission from a Lutheran pastor.

"It's clear from the church's membership profile that this is a situation already, and will continue to affect young parents and parents-to-be in the future," said Hanna Salomäki from the Church Research Institute.

Critics of the church's move to ease baptisms say that only a tiny percentage of people report a lack of godparents as the reason for ditching the ceremony, especially because the permission to have only a single godparent is very easy to obtain.

"I get about one of these requests a month, and I always oblige," said Savonlinna pastor Sammeli Juntunen in HS. "It takes about 20 seconds to sign the paperwork."

The smell of hot rubber

Finally tabloid Ilta-Sanomat on Thursday reported that a Raisio man who stole the car tyres of 47 different people last year, snatched from a local rentable storage garage known as a "tyre hotel", has been remanded and fined for aggravated fraud. The sentence does not yet have the force of law and may be appealed.

IS wrote that the 53-year-old man, who also rented a space from the facility, lost his temper when the operator of the garage changed the locks on the doors. The man proceeded to gather and sell the tyres "in a huff", claiming to later have repented and attempted to retrieve the stolen goods.

The man sold the tyres for some 3,500 euros, or less than one tenth of their real value. The prosecutor held that the full value of the haul was around 50,000 euros.

IS wrote that while insurance paid for the losses of some of the victims of the theft, many were also left without compensation.

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