What constitutes a crime?
The Criminal Code of Finland is unambiguous with regard to sexual offences against children, and complying with the law is simple: you must not use a child to satisfy your own sexual needs. Depending on the crime, the perpetrator may be charged. They may be penalised in the form of a fine or a conditional or unconditional imprisonment.
A child is vulnerable and needs special protection and care. Sexual activity towards a minor is always harmful to the child.
What constitutes a sexual offence?
The Finnish law protects every person from sexual violence, exploitation and abuse.
According to Finnish law, sexual abuse of a child is a sexual act directed against a person under 16 years of age, which is likely to harm the child's development. The same applies if a child is led to commit such an act.
The age of consent is 18 years in the case of a parent or a person in a comparable position or otherwise in a position of authority in relation to the child. Such people include coaches, teachers, supervisors and relatives.
Buying sexual services and grooming
Buying sexual services from someone under the age of 18 is also a criminal offence.
Grooming, meaning attracting a child for sexual purposes, is also a criminal offence. Any actions that continue beyond preparation constitute at least an attempt to sexually abuse a child, even if there was no physical encounter.
A child cannot consent to sexual acts
Mutual and consensual sexual activity between young people is not sexual abuse when there is little difference in age and in the mental and physical maturity of the partners.
Under Finnish law, a child under the age of consent, that is under 16, cannot consent to a sexual act targeted at them that fulfils the characteristics of a sexual offence as defined by the law.
Social media and the Internet
The legislation on sexual abuse and exploitation of children also applies to social media and the Internet. There have been prosecutions and sentences related to sexual acts committed towards children online.
For example, viewing material depicting child sexual abuse, that is so-called child pornography, may already constitute a criminal offence. Attracting a child to sexual activity is also criminalised. Do not commit a sexual offence, but seek help!
What are the consequences of a criminal record?
A criminal record of a sexual offence against a child makes it more difficult to find employment in the future. It also prevents you from applying for certain jobs.
Its negative effects are also reflected in relationships. For example, it may cause important friendships and close relationships to be severed. The consequences concern almost all areas of life, which undermines mental health and wellbeing.
Responsible and appropriate sexual behaviour never jeopardises one's own wellbeing or that of others.