A Safe Country: Finns Feel Safe and Children Roam Free

09. April 2016 Culture 0
Children seen playing and riding their bikes unattended and this seems to be common place.
Children seen playing and riding their bikes unattended. This seems to be common place.

There are many striking things about the Finnish capital of Helsinki, such as the beauty of its architecture, the sparkling sea, and even its small size. What is also striking is the lack of an obvious security or police presence. Having come to Finland after living in the Washington, DC metro area makes this all the more remarkable for me. This is not to say that there is no security, because that would be plain wrong. It is just very clear that the Finnish society feels safe and therefore the capital lacks the strong security presence one feels in other capitals. You could say the same thing about Finnish airports, which if compared to American airports, are very easy to pass through. Again it is not that security does not exist. At airports security is somehow less obvious and less stressful than in America. Although the security situation all over Europe, including in Northern Europe, is changing Finland is still one of those places where people feel safe and I hope it can stay that way because it is one of the reasons I like coming here.

This feeling of safety goes beyond security in the capital or at airports. It permeates the whole society. For example, many times young children walk to and from school or bus stops by themselves. I have been astonished many times at just how young these kids are. It is also common to see young children riding their bikes alone far from home. This does not add up to bad parenting; rather it shows how the society views itself. In Finland the attitude seems to be, “of course it is safe for children”.

Perhaps the most telling observation is how some people leave their baby strollers, with their babies in them, outside cafes while they go in to get coffee. This is not as common as the other examples and yet it is the most extreme. This would never happen in the United States and a parent could be charged with neglect and endangerment if it did. In my opinion this type of action would constitute a serious misstep for a parent in the United States and yet here in Finland there is simply no threat and that is awesome.

I am surprised and envious of the peacefulness and aurora of safety that prevails here. Where I grew up in the United States it was very safe and yet so many places in the United States and the world are not safe for children and can even be dangerous for women walking alone at night. Of course low crime rates and, so far, no terrorism have played a role in this peacefulness and is the point. People here feel safe because for the most part they are. Whatever the other factors, it seems that Finland has fewer creepers and violent criminals than elsewhere. Society has fully taken advantage of this and I hope that is always the case.


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