If you have financial problems
If you have problems paying bills, you can get help and advice on financial matters. If your income is reduced, find out if you are entitled, for example, to a housing allowance. If your income and means are not sufficient to cover your necessary everyday expenses, such as food and medicine, you may be entitled to income support.
Read more on the InfoFinland page Financial problems.
Children’s and young people’s problems
Problems at school or with studies
If a child or young person has problems at school or with studies, the problems should be discussed with the student counsellor of the school or educational institute. There is also a school psychologist or school social worker working at the school. They help students who are having difficulties at school.
If a child or young person is being bullied at school, the school is obliged to intervene. Report the bullying to a teacher and the headmaster. Occasionally, according to law, bullying can be a crime and can be reported to the police. For example, physical violence and stealing are crimes.
Use of alcohol and drugs
If a young person has problems with alcohol, drugs or gaming, they can seek help from a youth station (nuorisoasema). There are youth stations in many cities. The young person can come to a youth station alone or together with the parents.
A person under the age of 15 will face consequences for committing a crime. The young person is obliged to compensate for the damage caused. The police report crimes committed by persons under 18 years to their parents and to child welfare authorities.
More information about child welfare is available on the InfoFinland page Child welfare.
Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations ETNOGuide for parents about bullying at schoolLink redirects to another website
Lastensuojelu.infoInformation on child welfareLink redirects to another website
Cultural conflicts in the family
Occasionally, cultural conflicts cause problems between parents and children. The problems can relate to, for example, dating or dressing.
It is important that these conflicts can be discussed in the family. A young person has the right to ask why the parents want him or her to behave in a certain manner. No culture or religion may restrict the basic rights of children and youth. Read more on the basic rights on the InfoFinland page Children’s and youths’ rights and obligations.
You can ask for help for your problems. Young girls can seek help from Girls’ Houses (Tyttöjen Talo), which can be found in several municipalities. Helsinki and Oulu also have a Boys’ House (Poikien Talo), where boys can seek help.
Sopu-työ operates in Helsinki, and Didar operates in Tampere. They help young people and their parents in honour-related conflicts.
Help in bringing up children
Family counselling/family centre
At a family counselling centre (perheneuvola) or family centre (perhekeskus), children, youth and families can get help for problems related to bringing up children and their development. You can contact a family counselling centre yourself and set up an appointment. There are family counselling centres or family centres in many municipalities. You can find the relevant contact information on the website of your own municipality.
Mannerheim League for Child Welfare MLL
The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare organises family cafés for families with children and children’s clubs in many Finnish localities. MLL also offers advice to parents on raising children.
Family Federation of Finland
The Family Federation of Finland (Väestöliitto) provides information on parenting. You can contact the federation when you are faced with relationship problems, parenting or divorce. The Family Federation’s multicultural work provides support for immigrant families. The Family Federation also offers phone and e-mail counselling when you need to discuss issues related to parenting or family relationships. You can write to the Family Federation in Dari, Kurdish (Sorani), Persian, Finnish, Russian, English or Swedish. The contact information is available at the Family Federation’s website.
Mannerheim League for Child WelfareSupport for families with childrenLink redirects to another website
Ombudsman for ChildrenThe brochure "Children's Rights"Link redirects to another website
Violence in the family
In Finland, violence is a crime. Violence against one’s own family members is also a crime. Physical punishment of children, such as hitting them, is also a crime. A child finds physical punishment frightening. It is also detrimental to the child’s development and an ineffective way of punishing children.
Examples of violence include:
- intimidation, following, surveillance
- subjugation and coercion
- hitting, kicking and pushing
- sexual violence.
Help can be obtained by both the victim and the offender.
If the parents behave violently towards a child or a young person, the child or young person can seek help from the school nurse, a family counselling centre or an SPR Nuorten turvatalo.
You can find more information on how children are raised in Finland on the InfoFinland page Bringing up children in Finland.
Divorce and custody of children
Divorce applications can be filed with the district court of your or your spouse’s municipality of residence. You can file for divorce independently or together with your spouse. Divorce must be applied for twice, i.e. in two phases. Upon the submission of the divorce application to the district court (käräjäoikeus), a six-month reconsideration period begins. Once this period is over, divorce must be filed for within six months. The divorce will not become official until the second application has been approved.
If you have children under 18 with your spouse, their situation can be resolved at the same time as applying for the divorce. It can be agreed upon who will take custody of the children, where they will live and when each parent can see them. At this time, you can also agree upon maintenance, i.e. financial support, paid by one of the parents for the child/children. You can settle the issues with your spouse or contact your local social office (sosiaalitoimisto).
If your marriage ends, you may require both mental support and legal aid. Legal aid can be requested at the Public Legal Aid Office (oikeusaputoimisto). Mental support can be received, for example, in various support groups intended for divorcees. These activities are organised by parishes and various organisations, for example.
Honour-related violence is violence aimed at defending the family’s honour when a member of the family is suspected of violating its honour.
In Finland, defending the family’s honour is not an acceptable reason for threats, pressurising or violence. Violence and threats are regarded as crimes, irrespective of the victim’s and offender’s cultural background.
Examples of honour-related violence include:
- restriction, for example, by prohibiting certain kinds of clothing, relationships and hobbies
- threats of, for example, sending the person to his/her home country
- forced marriages or prevention of divorce.
If you have experienced honour-related violence or threats in your family, you can contact Sopu-työ. You can find the contact information on the Sopu-työ website.
If you have been forced into marriage against your will, you may be a victim of human trafficking. If you suspect that you are a victim of human trafficking, contact the Assistance system for victims of human trafficking. You can find the contact information at ihmiskauppa.fi.
Residence permit for victims of human trafficking
If you have been or may reasonably be suspected of having been a victim of human trafficking, you may be granted a residence permit in Finland. You must be in Finland in order to apply for a residence permit as a victim of human trafficking. If you are in a particularly vulnerable position, you can be granted a continuous residence permit.
Victim Support FinlandHelp for victims of human traffickingLink redirects to another website
Finnish Immigration ServiceResidence permit for victims of human traffickingLink redirects to another website
Help with violence
If you need police assistance quickly, call the emergency number 112. Only call the emergency number in case of emergencies where life, health, property or the environment is in danger. Read more on the InfoFinland page Emergencies.
Tel. 080 005 005
Open: every day
Nollalinja is a helpline you can call if you have experienced violence, sexual violence or threats of violence in your family. You can call at any time. The staff of the service speak Finnish, Swedish and English.
Nollalinja also makes use of interpretation services in six languages around the clock. The interpretation languages are Russian, Somali, Sorani, Persian, Dari and Arabic.
Calling Nollalinja is free of charge and does not leave a record on the phone bill. You do not need to reveal your name when calling. Nollalinja is intended for both women and men.
Crisis Center Monika
Tel. 0800 05058
Crisis Center Monika’s helpline is intended for immigrant women. The helpline serves in many different languages. You can call if you have experienced violence, sexual violence or threats of violence.
Calling is free of charge. Crisis Center Monika can also be contacted through chat. The chat serves in Finnish, English, Russian and Arabic.
If your spouse or family member is violent towards you, you can stay at a shelter. You will be safe at the shelter, and there is always staff there. You will get help with ending violence and advice for getting through the situation. Staying at a shelter is free of charge. You can also contact a shelter if a family member has threatened you with violence.
The Mona Shelter is only intended for immigrant women and their children. Call the number 045 639 6274 if you need a place at the shelter.
Help with sexual violence
Examples of sexual violence include
- forced sexual acts
- sexual abuse
- buying sex from persons under 18 years of age or victims of human trafficking
- sex with a person under 16 years of age
Sexual violence can also occur in romantic relationships and marriage. Sexual violence is always an offence, even in marriage.
Tel. 0800 97899
Tukinainen is a rape crisis centre, which provides help and support to victims of sexual violence. Support is provided in Finnish and English.
SERI Support Center
Tel. 040 701 8446
There is a SERI Support Center for victims of sexual violence in Helsinki. SERI Support Center helps and gives advice to people who have experienced sexual violence. The Support Center’s services include medical examinations and counselling by a psychologist. The Support Center helps people of all genders. You can come to SERI Support Center directly, although it is a good idea to call in advance.
You can also seek help at your municipality’s health centre.
Crisis Center MonikaHelplineLink redirects to another website
Monika – Multicultural Women’s AssociationAid and support to immigrant womenLink redirects to another website
Federation of Mother and Child Homes and SheltersContact information for sheltersLink redirects to another website
Rape Crisis Centre TukinainenSupport for victims of sexual violenceLink redirects to another website
Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa HUSSeri Support CenterLink redirects to another website
If someone is continuously threatening or harassing you and you would like some protection, you can apply for a restraining order (lähestymiskielto). A restraining order means that the affected person is not allowed to contact you. You can apply for a restraining order at a police station or the district court. Advice can be obtained from your local social office or legal aid office. If you have evidence of threats and harassment, keep the evidence in your possession.
Help in stopping violent behaviour
Tel. 09 276 62 899
Miehen Linja is a service for immigrant men who have behaved violently towards their partners or other family members or are afraid of doing so. You can make an appointment by telephone, chat or e-mail. Miehen Linja serves in Finnish, English, Swedish, French and Greek. You can also be served in your native language via an interpreter.