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Reporting obligation

When working with minors you come across situations where you must make a child welfare notification and/or a criminal report about the child or the young person. The person working with children and young people are obliged to make a child welfare notification and a criminal report if they encounter a minor in their work who has fallen victim to, for example, abuse or a sexual crime.

It is good to immerse yourself in the reporting obligations in advance so that you know how to act in the situation. It is good to remember that minors need adults in their lives who intervene in serious situations and ensure that they receive help.

“People working with children and young people are obliged to make a child welfare notification and a criminal report if they encounter a minor in their work who has fallen victim to, for example, abuse or a sexual crime”

When you are worried about a minor

•    Talk about it
•    Find out the child’s or the young person’s situation
•    Ensure the safety of the child or the young person
•    Tell them about possible obligations
•    Explain what the reports means and what they may lead to
•    Make a child welfare notification
•    Make a report to the police
•    In emergency situation, call the emergency centre
•    Refer the child or the young person to services and ensure they get further help
•    Take care of your own well-being as well

It is important to find put in advance how and where the notifications and report are made so that you know how to act. It is good to get the contact information to your local police station and the social services regarding the reports. The workplace can make their own directives about the reports. You can always consult the police and the child welfare without mentioning the child’s name when you are worried. Networking with the authorities improves the cooperation and makes the reporting easier.

“You can always consult the police and the child welfare without mentioning the child’s name when you are worried!”

Child welfare notification:

  • Make a notification when you think there is a reason to investigate the need of child welfare for a person under the age of 18
  • The notification can be based on many different concerns related to the child’s need for care and attention, developmental conditions or the personal behaviour.
  • Make the notification even if the child or the parents/custodian oppose to it
  • Inform the child and the parents/custodian about the notification if it is not clearly dangerous for the child
  • Tell the minor what a child welfare notification means and what possible measures it may lead to, for example support for the family
  • Emphasize that the purpose of the child welfare notification is to help the child
  • Remind that the starting point of the child welfare always is the best interest of the child

Report to the police:

  • Make a report to the police if you become aware of a sexual crime or assault against a minor
  • Make the notification even if the child or the parents/custodian oppose to it
  • Inform the child and the parents/custodian about the notification if it is not clearly dangerous for the child
  • Tell the minor what the report to the police means and what possible measures it may lead to, for example investigation of a suspected crime
  • Emphasize that the purpose of the police and other authorities is to help the child
  • Remind that you can get help in a possible criminal process from the Victim Support Finland

If you become aware of plans of an aggravated crime you must report this either to the authorities or to the person threatened by danger. An aggravated crime can, for example, be rape or aggravated assault. It can also be school threats for example.

The laws supporting the reporting obligation

The Child Welfare Act (No. 417/2007)

Chapter 5 Becoming a child welfare client

Section 25 (88/2010) Duty to notify

“Have a duty to notify the municipal body responsible for social services without delay and notwithstanding confidentiality provisions if, in the course of their work, they discover that there is a child for whom it is necessary to investigate the need for child welfare on account of the child’s need for care, circumstances endangering the child’s development, or the child’s behaviour.”

 

The Child Welfare Act (No. 417/2007)

Chapter 5 Becoming a child welfare client

Section 25 (88/2010) Duty to notify

“Have a duty, notwithstanding confidentiality provisions, to notify the police when they have cause to suspect on the basis of circumstances that have come to their knowledge an act against a child 1) punishable under Chapter 20 of the Penal Code (39/1889), or 2) an act of homicide and bodily injury under Chapter 21 of the Penal Code that is punishable by a maximum sentence of imprisonment for a least two years.”

 

The Criminal Code of Finland (39/1889)

Chapter 15 Offences against the administration of justice (563/1998)

Section 10 (563/1998) Failure to report a serious offence

“A person who knows of *list of crimes* and fails to report it to the authorities or the endangered person when there still is time to prevent the offence, shall be sentenced, if the offence or a punishable attempt thereof is committed, for a failure to report a serious offence to a fine or to imprisonment for at most six months.”