Pekka Martikainen

Work package 1.

Social determinants and later-life consequences of ACEs

Work package leader:

Professor Pekka Martikainen (demography), University of Helsinki

Work package members: 

Joonas Pitkänen, PhD researcher, Population Research Unit, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

The majority of international ACE research to date is based on surveys and few have used longitudinal data. In the first work package of ACElife, we utilize a unique large register data set combining different administrative individual-level registers. The data cover all children under 15 years of age living in Finland in 2000 (N = 933 000), their parents and other adults in the same household, as well as non-resident biological parents. The data are updated annually. The data allow us to look at a wide range of adverse experiences, such as parental mental health problems, substance abuse, parental imprisonment and violence experienced by the child, to examine their characteristics, accumulation and impact on later life.

Virve Toivonen

Work package 2.

Effectiveness of out-of-home and foster care in child protection

Work package leader:

Virve-Maria Toivonen, Lecturer, Docent/Associate professor (child law), University of Helsinki

Work package members: 

Pia Eriksson, DSocSci, Senior researcher, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

Elina Aaltio, DSocSci, Senior researcher, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

Aino Kääriäinen, PhD, Senior university lecturer, Docent/Associate professor, University of Helsinki
Anna Kylmäluoma, DSocSci, Senior researcher, University of Helsinki

Child welfare services are a key actor in identifying adverse childhood experiences and responding to children's needs. In the second work package, we examine the effectiveness of both in-home services and residential care in child protection. Knowledge based on research on in-home services so far is scarce and based on qualitative analysis of small datasets. This study uses large quantitative datasets to examine the different factors that influence whether a child and family are helped by in-home support measures or whether the case leads to a child being taken into care.

Residential care in child protection has on the other hand earlier been studied mainly with extensive register data. However, little attention has been paid to how residential care services respond to the needs of the child, such as ensuring the child's safety in the short term, or to the differences between different types of out-of-home care. The study will first define the objectives and key components of high-quality residential care, based on both research and practical experience, in consultation with professionals, families and children. It then examines which elements of care are effective in achieving the objectives and in what way in the short-term.

Mikko Aaltonen

Work package 3.

Adverse childhood experiences and the criminal justice system

Work package leader:

Professor Mikko Aaltonen (criminology), University of Eastern Finland 

Work package members: 

Tarja Koskela, LL.D, Docent/Associate professor (criminal law), University Lecturer, University of Eastern Finland

Elisa Silvennoinen, LL.D, University lecturer, University of Eastern Finland


Adverse childhood experiences are common among children and adolescents facing the criminal justice system. Not only do the most serious forms of abuse themselves lead to criminal sanctions, but adverse childhood experiences are linked both to the commission of crimes and to victimisation later in life. In the third work package, we will use extensive register data to provide up-to-date information on the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences among suspects and victims of crime, with a particular focus on the parties involved in juvenile delinquency.

Criminal procedure and the criminal justice system are designed to protect the rights of those involved, depending on their status. Particularly in the case of minors, the aim is also to ensure that the rights of the child are respected and the child is treated with due regard to their best interest. The interests of the child may be in conflict with those of the other parties involved and, in addition, the interests of the minors involved may be in conflict with each other. We will examine the specific requirements for the pre-trial investigation when the suspected offender is a minor, and will examine the kind of guarantees the criminal justice system provides for the realization of the children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The work package will examine the adequacy of the legislation, related implementation practices and procedures, and provide concrete guidance to legislators and practitioners, where necessary, to improve the position of the child.

Taina Laajasalo

Work package 4.

Parenting support and the third sector in the prevention of adverse childhood experiences

Work package leader:

Taina Laajasalo, Chief researcher, Docent/Associate professor (forensic psychology), THL

Work package members: 

Pauliina Sibbie, PhD researcher, University of Helsinki and THL

Riikka Ikonen, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Tampere

In the fourth work package of ACElife, two types of services will be evaluated: a group intervention for all families benefiting from cultural-sensitive parenting support, and an intervention for children living in violent households and their parents.

The first part evaluates the Combined Parent-Child Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CPC-CBT, in Finland called LKK), a method implemented in cooperation between the third sector (The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters) and public services, aimed at families where a parent has inflicted or is at risk of inflicting violence on a child. It is a multi-method study consisting of a qualitative and a quantitative component, where data is collected from children, parents and professionals leading the activities.

The second part assesses the feasibility of the Parenting in Finland (Vanhempana Suomessa) group activity developed by Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare and piloted by the City of Helsinki. The group provides psycho-educational support to parents with a foreign background in a Family Centre context. The aim is to strengthen children's well-being and safety by increasing parents' trust in the services and lowering the threshold to seek help when needed. Interviews with parents and professionals will be used to assess the suitability of the intervention within the service system. Interviews and surveys will also be used to assess the impact on the trust, well-being and parenting of parents participating in the pilot groups.

Noora Ellonen

Work package 5.

Child participation

Work package leader:

Noora Ellonen, Research Director, University of Tampere

Work package members: 

Elina Stenvall, Project Participation Coordinator, HT, Specialist SOS Children's Village

Venla Hakala, Researcher, University of Tampere

Laura Mielityinen, Researcher, University of Tampere

The fifth work package focuses on child participation. International studies have shown where, how and when children should be involved in the design and development of services that affect them. Implementation of this knowledge in Finland is still limited and ACElife aims to strengthen this. From a research perspective, we also produce research on the impact of child participation, on which there is still very little research internationally. For the duration of the project, ACElife has appointed Elina Stenvall, HT, as the Participation Coordinator.

The international scientific advisory board for ACElife

Professor David Finkelhor

Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire

Professor Peter Fallesen

Rockwool Foundation in Denmark

Professor Pernilla Leviner

Stockholm University

Melissa Runyon (PhD)

PLLC Consulting and Training Services

Professor Cath Larkins

Centre for Children and Young People's Participation, University of Central Lancashire.