Historical Child Abuse In Out-Of-Home Care: Finland Disclosing And Discussing Its Past

Bachelor thesis English OPEN
Mäkelä, Debora (2015)
  • Publisher: Linköpings universitet, Filosofiska fakulteten
  • Subject: out of home child care | historical child abuse and neglect | mistrust in Institutions | changed perception of Child Welfare.

The main focus in this thesis lies in the observation of how the public debate is formulating and developing in Finland in relation to the current implementation of the Inquiry on historical child abuse and neglect in out-of-home care. This thesis analyses the testimonies published around the investigation and on historical child abuse, in the public domain. The release of two documentaries broadcasted on National TV (YLE TV1) in 2013 and 2014 triggered a, however scarce, online public discussion with few newspapers’ as well as magazines’ articles covering informatively the inquiry. The online debate has so far seen the participation mainly of the victims themselves of historical abuse. Generally, I found a confirmation that the Finnish individualistic culture is hardly prompt to open discussion on such topics. As S.N., a care leaver, explains in the second documentary: (Lehikoinen, Luurankokaappi, 2014) “the culture does not give space” though people have “the need to speak.” My thematic analysis on this debate has nonetheless disclosed an urge to come to terms with a past of institutional abuse, framed in a general context of public mistrust in the Child Welfare4 system. The care-leavers, narrating their stories in the two TV documentaries, disclosed memories of neglect, violence and systematical isolation of the Poor. Their stories are interpreted through the debate on the media as stories of injustice. Their narration portraits a concept of “child care” very far from nowadays’ standards of child welfare. Care-leaver H.S. points his finger on the Finnish child-care institution where he spent his childhood in the ‘50s: “Only a monster can send a child to such a place!” (Lehikoinen, Varastettu Lapsuus, 2013).
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