Juvenile delinquency 

Updated: 31.3.2017 - Next update: 31.3.2021

Juvenile criminal behaviour has remained stable in the 2000s

The prevalence of violence committed by juveniles has remained relatively stable since 1995. In the three latest surveys (2004, 2008 and 2012) violence has been slightly lower than in the preceding survey. When different types of crime are compared with each other, the level of violent incidents has remained relatively the most stable over entire period of existence of the survey system.

Property offences (theft and damage to property) committed by juveniles declined sharply in the late 1990s. In the early 2000s, theft continued to decline, but more moderately. In 2012, theft was slightly higher than in the previous survey, but at roughly the same level as in the early 2000s.

Acts of damage to property fell sharply in the first surveys of the survey system, after which the level remained stable until the 2008 survey. In 2012, however, more young people committed acts of damage to property than four years earlier. The increase in the number of acts of damage to property measured in the survey may be partly explained by changes made to the structure and implementation of the survey system (see description of indicator). Nevertheless, other survey sources also indicate an increase in damage to property, even if the change is not as clear.

Use of marijuana and hashish increased to some extent in the early 2000s, after which the trend took a downward turn. In the 2012 survey, use of soft drugs was more prevalent, however, than four years earlier.

Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy

Description of indicator

The indicator describes the proportion of 15–16 year-olds who have participated in some 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, use of marijuana or hashish has been 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 juveniles, 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 15-16 year-olds. The base population consists of ninth-grade students of Finnish-language secondary schools throughout Finland. The survey began in 1995 and has been repeated a total of seven times. The 2012 questionnaire was answered by 4,855 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. In addition, some changes were made to the structure of the questionnaire.