Polarisoituva nuoruus? Nuorten elinolot -yearbook 2008


Minna Autio, Kirsi Eräranta & Sami Myllyniemi (Eds.)
Youth Research Network & Stakes 2008


Good, bad solitude – Selfhood, solitude and friendship in late adolescence

Päivi Harinen

This article discusses young people’s solitude and the risk of polarization associated with it. Solitude in itself is not assumed to be a problem, but the risks associated with it are well known. This theme is considered through an experiential approach, by way of a collection of writings and two statistical data sets. On the basis of these writings, solitude appears to be a risk factor associated with the phase of moving out of one’s childhood home in particular. The statistical data, for its part, shows that there is no significant correlation between feelings of loneliness and living on one’s own. Loneliness is, however, gender biased: young men are lonelier than young women, and likewise young women’s friendships are more intense and satisfying than young men’s. Unemployment makes young people vulnerable to social deprivation and limits their contacts with friends to some extent, which in turn decreases their satisfaction with life in general.


School bullying as a threat to young people’s well-being – What happens to the peer relationships of the bullied and the bullies?

Maili Pörhölä

This article analyzes matters related to school bullying both for the victims and the perpetrators, and for those who have been in both roles, in terms of the pupils’ psychological, physical and social well-being. On the basis of previous research literature we start by considering connections between bullying and indicators of personal well-being, state of mind and health.

From there follows a description of the path of development for the victims of bullying and those who have bullied others, stressing problems experienced in human relationships and adaptation to society. In conclusion empirical data is used to show how school bullying is associated with problems in relating to peers and bonding with peer groups. A survey was conducted among 872 seventh and eighth graders,
in the final stages of their compulsory schooling (girls 440; boys 432). Data was collected using questionnaires. Analysis of this data showed that there is a clear connection between school bullying and problems in peer relations. Pupils who had been bullied reported the most suffering and the least comradeship due to various problems in peer relationships and connecting with those of their own age group.

The second most problems in peer relations appeared among those pupils who were in the roles of both victim and bully. Those who had only been bullies, not victims, also experienced problems in peer relationships, though considerably less than the previous groups. In addition to emotional and physical suffering, being part of the process of school bullying thus appears to seriously damage young people’s peer relationships, making it difficult for them to safely bond with a community of their peers. The article concludes by considering possibilities for supporting pupils’ peer relationships.


Young women and polarizing sexual violence

Minna Piispa & Päivi Honkatukia

According to studies of victims, women’s experiences of sexual violence and harassment usually occur when they are quite young. The most recent survey of women’s experiences of violence (2005) shows that nearly a tenth of women 18–25 years old had experienced sexual violence or had been threatened with such during the previous year, whereas the equivalent figure for older women was only 2 %. Half of those in this age group had experienced sexual harassment during the year, and especially younger women’s experiences of harassment had increased in comparison to the figures for 1997.

In both youth research and public discussion forums the issue of the sexualization of the culture of gender being harmful to young girls has been raised. Youth is a time for internalizing cultural limits and norms in relation to sexuality, during which concepts of right and wrong can be more pointed than later in life. Sexual violence is a rather gendered phenomenon both in its meaning and its general occurrence.

This article investigates young women’s experiences of sexual violence from the perspective of polarization. It appears to be that experiences of sexual violence and harassment among young women seem to be concentratedon particular individuals. Do these increase those young women’s distress or maladjustment? Does the concentration of these experiences on particular individuals polarize young women? International studies show that sexual violence experienced especially during childhood causes mental health problems and increases risk of being the victim of further violence later in life.

Data used in this article come from the Woman’s Safety research conducted by Statistics Finland in 1997 and 2005 as postal surveys.


Young people’s concepts of political influence and participation – EU youth politics and anti-nuclear protests as perspectives

Sofia Laine & Jenni Dorff

This article looks at young people who have participated in actions of political influence across national borders. On the basis of two case studies, it analyses what sorts of similarities and differences there are between traditional and radical political action, and how young participants themselves define influence and participation. Furthermore consideration is given to the question of what sort of young people are able to participate in cross-border political action to begin with.

The primary data here consists of interviews with young people who have participated in eight EU meetings and in five Bomspotting actions. Interviewees were 22–30 years old. The authors themselves have also participated in the events in question and observed young people on location. International political action requires, in addition to motivation, different sorts of resources.

Young people who participated in EU youth meetings and Bomspotting actions were politically active in other ways as well. Young people got to know each other at these events and built relationships which shifted from one event to another. At the same time these young people developed social and human capital, which in turn increased the participants’ readiness to be politically active in the future as well.

Participation is empowering in that through it one may gain a sense of one’s ability to exercise societal influence. Both diplomatic and radical action have many different forms and they are also used in conjunction. Radical political protests with their conspicuous mode of operation insure better media reporting. A diversity of political actions needs to be given greater respect that it currently receives.

Different young people are interested in different sorts of influence. Thus the concepts of political action and participation should be expanded so as to make room for various sorts of attempts to influence mattersthat arise among young people.


Attitudes and actions of participation – Younger age groups in volunteer work

Henrietta Grönlund & Anne Birgitta Pessi

This article considers young adults’ participation in and attitudes towards volunteer work, as well as the values and esteem associated with volunteer work. It compares younger age groups’ participation and attitudes with the Finnish average, looking for signs of polarization in volunteer work. The specific focus is on unemployment and participation among the young unemployed, examining their participation in and attitudes towards volunteer work. We also itemize restrictions to volunteer work. The data utilized here comes from two separate Finnish data sets: Finns’ Helping Attitudes and Deeds (the SAAT data, 2006, n=1050) and the Capital District’s Young Adults data (2004, N=1000).

In analysing these broad data sets, the authors concentrate specifically on volunteer work and the attitudes and values associated with it. Results are considered from the perspectives of the future, participation and preventing marginalization. Both research perspectives and concrete actions for taking advantage of volunteer work as part of civic education and youth marginalization prevention are offered as conclusions.


Education, polarization and equality: Advantage and disadvantage in basic and further education

Tero Järvinen & Markku Jahnukainen

This article considers educational selection and equal rights, the relation between these and the connection with recent trends in polarization especially from the perspective of educational policy.

Educational equality and its realization are considered from three perspectives: educational possibilities, education systems and educational results. The connection between selection and polarization is brought out by taking three educationally special groups as subjects of investigation: 1) disabled and handicapped
young people, 2) young people outside of education and working life, and 3) immigrant young people.

Changes which have occurred in educational policy and in society at large during the past couple of decades are reflected both in the discussion of equal rights and accordingly in the educational selection process. While educational equal rights are ever more generally taken to mean the individual’s common
right to pursue his/her own educational interests, our education system has adapted in the way that selection is possible to carry out at ever lower grade levels and within each level of education. Even though from the perspectives of educational possibilities and education systems it seems that rights to education are quite well protected in Finland, there have been clear signs of inequality to be seen in recent years.

From the perspective of educational results there are significant shortcomings in the realization of equal rights, which can be seen for example in the weaker placement of the handicapped and disabled, and immigrant young people in secondary schools and the labour market.


Youth welfare policy – Dealing with difficulties and managing risks?

Timo Harrikari & Susanna Hoikkala

This article considers how concepts and discourses expressing new rationales for youth management have arisen and spread through the practices of child welfare and juvenile delinquency work since the mid 1990s. Furthermore, this article evaluates what sort of influence these conceptual and discursive changes may have had on the administrative fields in question. The background work for this article was carried out in the University of Helsinki’s Social Policy Studies Department’s project: “‘A Socio-Legal Study of the Change in the Institutional Practices that Regulate Generational Relationships”, begun in 2005.

The writers’ own study projects – analysing political programs, documentation of the legislative process and media articles of the period – are used as material for this article. Attempts to tighten control over the fields of child welfare and juvenile delinquency are presented here as being discursively conditioned and part of a broader change in the direction of social policy in the 1990s, bringing together the new administrative techniques suggested by the conservative movement’s value goals and broadly security conscious approach to children, young people and families with children.

In discursively conditioned youth control, the reality surrounding young people or young people’s actions are presented as emotionally unpredictable and disconcerting. In order to increase predictability, officials developed various sorts of risk indicators and tools for filtering risk groups. The ontology of concern and the epistemology of risk supplement intervention tactics, the ethos of which stresses early, rapid and considerable interventions targeting young people.


Education, youth social work and youth psychiatry in promoting the welfare of young people

Juha Hämäläinen, Eila Laukkanen & Riitta Vornanen

This article considers interpretations of young people’s adjustment difficulties coming from the fields of youth education, youth psychiatry and youth social work; and the significance of each field’s theoretical background in responding to young people’s needs for support. Cooperation between these professional fields working with young peoople can be hindered by both practical problems and a lack of mutual understanding.

Analysing theoretical bases lays a foundation for developing cooperation in preventing the polarization
of young people. This article outlines youth education, youth psychiatry and youth social work as concepts and systems; delving into interpretations of young people’s adjustment problems in particular. Interpretations of the problems and possibilities to promoteyoung people’s well-being come together in
child welfare situations in particular. This article considers the situation in which the young person is a client of both child welfare and youth psychiatric services; where the young person has combined problems and the service organizations have separate approaches.

Problems in cooperation between different actors are not a matter of incompatible values or different final
goals in supporting the young person’s life, but rather that the investigative perspective within each sector has become isolated. Random and situational cooperation is not enough. We need forms of organized cooperation which make it possible to cross administrative, organizational and theoretical boundaries.


Children’s and young people’s problems and parenthood in media texts

Ella Sihvonen

This article looks at the public discussion of children’s and young people’s problems and parenthood.
The data considered here comes from contributions to newspaper opinion pages from the years 1999–2001 and 2006. Concern over the increase in young people’s social adjustment problems has died down in recent years, but the fear of problems becoming concentrated has increased. One theme, however, has remained constant: in public discussions there is continuous concern expressed over the state of family life, which is no longer seen to support children’s and young people’s well-being.

This article focuses on investigating what sort of active roles can be created for parents in dealing with crises. Responsible parenthood is manifested in these writings in the emotional discourse of parenthood.
In this emotional discourse, successful parenthood is dependant on internal factors, the parents’ abilities and desire. A form of speech stressing membership in the dominant culture comes from a culture of therapy, as a result of which parenthood brings about vulnerability.

The realization of responsible parenthood depends on information and support coming from experts on the psyche. The emotional discourse also contains a contradiction: parents must be responsible, while at the same time parents’ ability to protect children’s and young people’s well-being is not trusted. In the article the importance of the relationship between trust and responsibility is pointed out in considering people’s functional possibilities. Recent discussions of problems becoming concentrated and parents’ responsibility also raise the question, what is the individual’s responsibility in solving
societal problems?