When a child becomes a victim of crime

  • Report the crime to the police as soon as possible. Find an attorney as well.
  • The police shall refer the child to thorough medical examinations as soon as possible after the incident. Photos may be taken in connection with the examinations, as well as occasionally blood samples, urine samples and other appropriate samples. A child’s examination usually starts with a normal medical check, in which the heart and lungs are listened to, the stomach is pressed and the mouth is checked. The child is checked “from head-to-toes” to ensure that nothing important is left unnoticed.
  • If the child has been taken to a doctor before reporting the crime, it must be noted that doctors, and other health care authorities and some other authorities, have the obligation to notify child protection and report a crime, if they suspect that the child is sexually exploited. If a health care authority suspects that the child has been abused, he/she is obligated to notify child protection and report a crime. The police are also obliged to notify child protection, if they suspect the child to have been subject of an assault or sexual crime. It is child protection’s duty to assess the child’s situation and ensure that the child is safe. In addition, child protection will offer help for the parents, if necessary.
  • Discuss with the police, at what stage of the investigations is professional help possibly acquired for the child. The police in charge of investigations must know about seeking help, because it may be of importance in the assessment of the child’s story later on. At the beginning, discussion support may be useful for the child, but it is recommended that the questioning of the child that is part of preliminary investigations is carried out before therapy is started. It is also important that the child is told what happens during the criminal process according to the child's maturity.
  • Do not pressure the child to tell about what has happened. The case is investigated by the police and other experts.
  • If the child wants to tell about what has happened, write details down in exactly the same way as the child has told them. Avoid adding your own interpretations. If you have to clarify something, use neutral questions, such as “What do you mean?” or “Tell about it a bit more". Do not bring new matters in to the discussion.
  • Keep to everyday routines as well as possible.
  • Do not speak about the situation with others so that the child can hear.
  • Do not keep bringing up the matter and feeling sorry for your child about his/her fate. Ask other adults to also avoid this. Sometimes the strong reactions of the environment may be just as harmful to the child as the actual experience of being a victim of crime.
  • Aim to let out your own anxiety, when the child is not around.
  • Ensure your own coping. You can acquire a support person for yourself and your child from Victim Support Finland free of charge. There you can also get advice for other professional help.
  • Although the criminal procedure takes a long time, the child’s part of the process ends when he/she has told about what has happened during the preliminary investigation. After this, the child should be able to continue his/her life as normally as possible. Family is the child’s most important support. Charging the offender is not as important to children as it is for adults.
  • As the criminal procedure progresses, you can get more information and advice from e.g. the police or from Victim Support Finland’s service point.

Read more

Criminal procedure information for a young victim of crime
Victim Support Finland’s youth website