Juvenile delinquency

Updated: 31 Mar 2021
Next update: 31 Mar 2025

The indicator describes the proportion of persons aged 15 to 16 who have participated in each form of crime at least once during the year. Stealing from a shop or school is included in the statistics for theft. Damage to property includes drawing and writing on walls, damage to property in school and damage to property outside school. The examination of violence includes participation in a fight in a public place as well as assault. With respect to drugs, the use of marijuana or hashish is included.

Only a fraction of crimes are reported to the police and thereby recorded in official statistics. Particularly in so-called volume crime, the proportion of unreported cases is high. To form an accurate picture of the level, characteristics and trends of crimes committed by young people, surveys measuring overall criminality are required in addition to official statistics.

Juvenile delinquency surveys are a nationally representative indicator system measuring the criminal behaviour and victim experiences of young people aged 15 to 16. The population consists of ninth-grade students of Finnish-language upper secondary schools throughout Finland. The survey began in 1995 and has been repeated a total of seven times. The 2016 questionnaire was answered by 6,061 ninth-grade students. In 2012, the system was reformed so that the survey is now conducted using an Internet-based questionnaire instead of a paper questionnaire.


Juvenile crime has decreased

The prevalence of acts of violence committed by young people remained relatively stable between 1995 and 2012. In the 2016 survey, the prevalence of violence has fallen clearly, however. In the three latest surveys (2004, 2008 and 2012) the level of violence has been stable, but on a slightly lower level than at the turn of the millennium. The latest survey from 2016 shows that the generality of acts of violence has halved compared with the survey results of 2001. When different types of crime are compared with each other, the level of violent incidents and the use of marihuana and hashish have remained relatively most stable over the entire period of existence of the survey system.

Offences against property (theft and damage to property) committed by young people decreased sharply in the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, theft continued to decline, but more moderately. In 2012, theft was slightly more common than in the previous survey, but at roughly the same level as in the early 2000s. A sharp fall was again visible in 2016, which is in numbers comparable with the falling trend of the late 1990s.

Damages to property decreased strongly in the first surveys of the survey system, after which the level remained stable until the survey for 2008. However, more young people committed damage to property in 2012 than four years earlier. In 2016, there was a sharp fall, however, because the number of damages committed young people more than halved compared with the previous survey.

The use of marihuana and hashish increased to some extent in the 2000s, after which the development turned to a decline. In the 2012 survey, the use of soft drugs was more common, however, than four years earlier, but in the 2016 survey it returned to the level of 2008 again.