OAJ union: Teachers (and immigrants) should report hate speech and harassment cases to the police

by , under Enrique

Finland’s Trade Union of Education (OAJ) recommends that teachers should file a complaint to the police if they are victims of  hate speech or harassment at school, reports Helsingin Sanomat, citing Finnish News Agency (STT). Should immigrants and visible minorities follow OAJ’s example if they are victims of racist harassment in public?

Migrant Tales reported last year on the case of an African student who was harassed and bullied in public in Jyväskylä. Uncertain if the incident should be reported  or not, the student got in touch with the police and Ombudsman for Minorities. The police said the student should not report the case but the Ombudsman for Minorities advised to the contrary.

The announcement by OAJ reveals concern about the growing number of hate speech and harassment cases reported by  teachers at school. The union recommends teachers to get in touch directly with the police if the perpetrator is 15 years old and with social welfare officials if younger.

Your safety is the most important matter you should keep in mind if somebody harasses you in public. Walk away from the situation but get a good description of the perpetrator so you can report the person to the police.

  1. Iam

    Hi MT, all
    oh yes i reported a bout racist to police, and ombudsman, but
    Police said nothing, and just asked me some questions, and finally supported racist.
    Ombusman said, thats not my job, i cant help.
    yeeeeeeeeeeees thats the fact.
    So have been free to complain about racists, but had not right at all in law in Finland, in the court and police station.Court punished me so much for i complained to the court about them,for a loooong time
    They mean, hey feel free and complain about racist but never wait for support, i never believe them, NEVER

    Peace to the world

    • akaaro

      MT entry October 27, 2011 (A policeman from Mikkeli, who came to speak to a group of students from different countries, said that racist harassment in public should NOT be reported to the authorities.

      Another policeman from Pieksämäki gave the same advice to Migrant Tales: ”I have been on the force for 35 years and my advice is to walk away. quoted.

      If the racist harrasment not to be reported to the police then who?

  2. JusticeDemon

    If I have followed this story correctly, it reflects the concern of the teachers’ union regarding assaults by school students on teaching staff. In one recent case a teacher was awarded damages after complaining about verbal abuse from a student.

    The traditional view is that incidents of this kind should be managed within the school disciplinary and counselling system. The threshold for involving the police (or social workers, in the case of younger students) is a fairly high one. OAJ now seems to be suggesting that this threshold may be too high, and that teachers should not be deterred from pressing civil and criminal charges. Furthermore, this is and should be a matter for the victim, and not for school administrators.

    Similar issues arise in contact sports, which have their own built-in disciplinary structures and a varying threshold for involving outside authorities.

    At a Ministry of Labour seminar some years ago a local employment office adviser described situations in which employers overtly refused to even consider job applicants from visible minorities. I asked her if she had reported this to the police. This question caused considerable embarrassed consternation around the room, and I never got a straight answer. Evidently there was an unwritten policy of ignoring criminal offences of this kind (amounting to a policy of complicity).

    This is rather more serious than dealing with a deliberate violent foul solely through the rules of a contact sport or giving a student detention for bad-mouthing a teacher, because there is no formal mechanism for even recording, still less sanctioning the offence. Possible minimal consequences might include formally admonishing the employer for such conduct and requiring the presence of a second official in any direct contact with such an employer.

  3. Mark

    MT entry October 27, 2011 (A policeman from Mikkeli, who came to speak to a group of students from different countries, said that racist harassment in public should NOT be reported to the authorities.

    Another policeman from Pieksämäki gave the same advice to Migrant Tales: ”I have been on the force for 35 years and my advice is to walk away. quoted.

    If the racist harrasment not to be reported to the police then who?

    When the police don’t even take their own laws seriously, what can you do? Do the offer the same advice to ‘just walk away’ if you are punched on the nose, have your bag stolen, are shot in the head?

    While catching such perpetrators is unlikely, logging the incident and have it recorded in police statistics is extremely important.

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