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Young people's background is an important factor in substance abuse and gambling prevention


Leena Sipinen, EHYT ry

07.10.2022 - According to the THL School Health Survey, ancestry is linked to a young person's well-being and lifestyle. The results showed that boys from foreign backgrounds are more likely to gamble and buy alcohol than boys from Finnish backgrounds. It is therefore important to take young people's background into account in substance abuse and gambling prevention work. Providing support for parents and activities for young people reinforces protective factors.


The School Health Survey conducted by the National Institute for Health and Welfare examines, among other things, young people's lifestyles, gambling and attitudes to substance abuse. Statistical data for 2019 and 2021 were also published on the public results service by family origin.


THL expert Anni Matikka also says that gambling is significantly more common among boys with foreign background than among boys with Finnish background. The most common gamblers are foreign-born 8th-9th grade boys (30%) and boys attending vocational schools (22%) (compared to 5-7% of 8th-9th grade and vocational school boys of Finnish background).


Young people with Finnish background are more likely than young people with a foreign background to accept substance abuse at their age. However, foreign-born 8th-9th grade boys in particular are more likely to use tobacco products daily (26%) and alcohol weekly (19%) than boys of Finnish origin (8% and 4%). Foreign-born underage boys are much more likely to buy alcohol from retail outlets (19-46% depending on school level) than boys of Finnish origin (5-8%). Experimentation with cannabis and other illegal drugs is also more common, especially among foreign-born boys than among boys from Finnish backgrounds.


"All young people, whatever their background, need meaningful things to do in their everyday lives, friends, a sense of inclusion, the chance to influence their own lives and a sense of achievement. By strengthening these so-called protective factors, we can prevent substance abuse and gambling among young people," says Leena Sipinen, Project Manager of EHYT's Hadiya project.


"In the Hadiya project, we organise small group activities for Arabic- and Somali-speaking young people and produce factual materials in their own language and advocacy tools for parents."

Children and young people with a foreign background experience more difficulties in talking to their parents than children and young people with a Finnish background. Between 8% and 18% of foreign-born boys said that they hardly ever have the chance to talk to their parents about their own affairs. The corresponding proportion for boys of Finnish origin was 2-5%.


"It is important that parents also have knowledge and understanding of the challenges in young people's lives, as well as the willingness and ability to discuss issues within the family. Arab and Somali families and communities are often close-knit and community-based. By directing support and information on substance abuse and gambling issues to families, we can protect the well-being of young people," continues Sipinen.


People with foreign background experience discrimination and bullying more often than people with Finnish background

"If a young person or their parents were born abroad, they are more likely to have experienced discrimination. Depending on the level of schooling, 31-54% of young people with foreign background reported experiencing discrimination at school or in their free time, compared to 12-35% of young people with Finnish background," says Anni Matikka, an expert at the National Institute for Health and Welfare.


Between 1% and 17% of young people from foreign backgrounds said they had been bullied at school at least once a week, compared with between 1% and 5% of those from Finnish backgrounds. Between 10% and 22% of young people with foreign background were without any close friends, compared with 6% to 10% of those with Finnish background.


"The School Health Survey results service provides a wealth of information on the well-being of children and young people by origin, which is well worth exploring," continues Matikka.


Source: EHYT

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