FSD2621 Child Sexual Abuse in Finland 1983-1984: Public Authority Survey

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  • Sariola, Heikki (Central Union for Child Welfare)


adolescents, adults, child abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse, children, sexual harassment, sexual offences, social workers


The survey investigated child sexual abuse cases that had come to the attention of the Finnish authorities in 1983-1984. The postal survey was sent to social workers throughout Finland. A total of 354 confirmed and suspected cases of child sexual abuse were reported.

Relating to suspected cases of sexual abuse, the respondents were asked what the reasons for their suspicions were. Relating to certain and confirmed cases the respondents were asked the gender of the child who had been the victim of abuse, information pertaining to the child's residence, other children in the child's family, whether any of the siblings had become a victim of sexual abuse, where the child had lived when abused and whether the child was physically or mentally disabled. Information was charted on the family in which the child had lived when abused, including the number of months the father and mother of the family had been consistently away from home, domestic violence in the family, the family's social interaction, the characteristics of the family, the father and mother of the family, and the family's lifestyle (regular, irregular or chaotic).

The section on the sexual abuser covered the abuser's relationship to the abused child, previous sexual offences committed, whether the abuser had confessed their actions, admitted to causing the child harm or attempted to defend their actions as well as the characteristics describing the abuser. Relating to the sexual abuse case in question, the respondents were asked when and how the abuse case came to light, whether any of the family members knew about the abuse before it became known to authorities, how long sexual abuse had continued, whether coitus, physical violence and use of alcohol was involved, who had been notified of the case, which actions had been taken and what kind of symptoms the child had had.

Background variables included, among others, the respondent's job and unit; type of municipality, province, degree of urbanisation, number of habitants in the municipality; the child's age and family composition, education and economic activity of the child's parents; the sexual abuser's gender, age, economic activity and education.

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