Quarrels become worse and worse
The family includes parents, a 3-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. The family moved to Finland two years ago. Adapting to a new country was not easy and, therefore, the atmosphere in the family was sometimes tense. The Finnish language was difficult and the family had financial problems. The father was unemployed. Earlier when he had a job he was able to provide for his family.
One day there was a violent argument in the family. The neighbours heard shouting and clattering caused by furniture being overturned. One of the neighbours called the police and reported alleged domestic violence. The police patrol came to assess the situation. The situation was calmed down, but the police submitted a child welfare notification concerning the case .
Domestic violence is prohibited by law in Finland
The parents and children were invited to the social services office to meet a social worker . The family argument and the reasons for it were discussed in the meeting. The parents were not accustomed to discuss their private matters with the authorities and they told the social worker that everything was fine in the family. It was easier for them to tell how difficult it was to make ends meet or how difficult it was to find work.
The social worker told the parents about services provided for families with children. In addition, the social worker pointed out that although raising a child is primarily the parents’ duty, certain matters are prescribed by law. Domestic violence is a crime in Finland, and the law in Finland prohibits hitting a child or administering other corporal punishment. The parents received the telephone numbers of the emergency social services and a shelter in case a similar situation should reoccur.
There will be intervention in domestic violence and you can get help
The situation in the family calmed down, until a couple of months later when the problems started escalating again because of a big phone bill. There was not enough money to even buy food. The father became upset and in his anger he hit the mother and the 9-year-old boy. The mother and children felt scared and left home in the middle of the argument. They went and asked the neighbour to call a shelter on their behalf.
The mother and children went to a shelter, where they were allowed to calm down and rest. Then the staff of the shelter started clarifying the family’s situation together with a child welfare social worker. They considered ways to help the family. The domestic violence was discussed both with the parents and the children separately. The discussions emphasised that in such situations the child welfare authorities must act. The parents may think that family matters do not concern outsiders. However, in Finland the authorities are obligated to intervene. After discussions, the father agreed to meet a worker, who worked with men that had used violence.
Child welfare social worker’s meetings with the family continued for several months. During which time the parents received tangible help to deal with their situation. The social worker helped the mother to get a place in a Finnish language course and apply for a day care place for the family’s youngest child. The social worker also helped the family search for hobbies for the 9-year-old son. The boy wanted to play football, and social welfare services also granted financial aid to pay for the hobby. The father continued visiting the men’s discussion group and started attending an employment training course.