Some magic ahead

Not “tired but happy”, but happy and inspired: EFCAP Finland’s continuous professional education meeting successfully completed. Our topic this time was Adolescent immigrants as victims and perpetrators of crime. ( ) This is most topical right now. Last year, as our share of the vastly increased numbers of asylum seekers, Finland faced a wave of immigration earlier unheard of. It is commonly known that Finland has so far been, and still is, a country with relatively little immigration due to any causes. Public discussion has revolved around many concerns, one of which is criminality.

Finnish adolescents have over past decades decreased their involvement in problem behavior that sometimes seems to be expected from them. They drink and smoke less and less, have not increased other substance use, and commit fewer crimes than in previous decades. Adolescent immigrants have been shown to be overrepresented in justice systems in Europe, and survey studies have suggested that they commit more delinquent acts majority adolescents. However, risk factors for delinquency are similar among host county majority youth and immigrant youth, and they include deprivation, disintegration and psychosocial family risk factors that are also risk factors for mental disorders in minors. In addition, prejudice, racism and acculturation stress play a role among immigrants.

Even if we learned that adolescents with foreign background and experience of immigration are more involved in juvenile delinquency also in Finland, we also learned that the difference to adolescents of Finnish origin is less that assumed in public discussion, and that measures taken in order to reduce criminal behavior among immigrant adolescents have indeed worked.

I feel that we in EFCAP Finland have often offered a forum to bring into daylight a serious problem of which there is too little awareness, and perhaps that more expertise would be needed. But now I think that our meeting’s important role was to tell that compared to public concerns there is less of a problem, no disaster, and a lot of expertise is available in Finland.

It was a great pleasure to stop and focus for two days on inspiring lectures by excellent, very professional speakers. Otherwise this has been an overloaded, too busy and chaotic autumn with lots of chaotic discussion about the new order of the services for children, adolescents and their families in the new integrated social and health care to be born in near future Sometimes I cannot help thinking it might be a good idea to find out what the services are doing already before rushing to invent the wheel again, or tearing down what already works.

A lot of dancing is needed to balance the helpless feelings of being involved in chaotic and illogical, unpredictable processes. Fortunately the rhythm of the ballet school I attend is predictable and pleasurable. We are currently preparing for a Christmas show.  The class miraculously finds a common timing. Costumes are negotiated. Excitement arouses. The show day is full of inspiration, and a little of magic.