Self-reported offending

Every 5 years, juveniles aged 10 to 23 are asked about the offenses they commit in the Youth Delinquency Survey (YDS). This self-reported offending study reveals that the percentage of juveniles reporting a crime in 2020 is the same as in 2015. This applies to all types of offenses, except for property crimes. Juveniles report these types of offenses more frequently than in 2015. The percentage of juveniles reporting a cybercrime in 2020 is lower than in 2015.

Last update: May 2021

Developments from 2005 to 2020 vary by age group, offense type, and background characteristics. The previously observed decline in self-reported offending did not continue among minors (aged 12-18) in 2020. However, the decline did continue among adolescents (aged 18-23).

21% of children younger than 12 self-report having committed a traditional offense

In 2020, 21% of 10- to 12-year-olds reported committing a traditional offense in the previous twelve months. For example, such as stealing or vandalism. This percentage is comparable to 2005 and 2015.

Looking at sex and migration background among children below 12, it is found that both boys and children with a Dutch background are more likely to report aggression and property offenses. Additionally, just over 4% reports having committed a cyber and/or digitized offense. This percentage is lower than in 2015, and includes, for example, unauthorized logging into someone else’s account or changing someone's password (hacking).

Juveniles report more property offenses and fewer cybercrime

Nearly 37% of minors (aged 12-18) indicate they committed a traditional offense. This is comparable to 2015. Over time, this trend is stable for all main categories of traditional offenses, except for property offenses, which are actually increasing. Furthermore, nearly 20% of juveniles report committing a cyber and/or digitized crime in 2020. This is lower than in 2015, especially for cybercrimes involving hacking computers or taking down a network.

Among boys, self-reported engagement in property offenses increased in 2020. Among girls, self-reported engagement in cyber and digitized crimes decreased. Among minors with a migration background, vandalism increased, and engagement in other types of offending remained stable or decreased. Additionally, property offenses and digitized crime decreased among minors with a Dutch background.

The graphs below show the developments of traditional and cyber and digitized crimes from 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020 among 12- to 18-year-olds (in percentages with a 95% confidence interval).

Percentage of Self-Reported Traditional Offending among 12- to 18-Year-Olds

Percentage of Self-Reported Traditional Offending among 12- to 18-Year-Olds
Traditional total41,238,134,736,6
Drug trafficking5,33,32,63,3
Possession of weapons2,52,32,41,5

Note: Sample size 2005 = 1,123, 2010 = 2,264, 2015 = 1,469, 2020 (Q1) = 615

Source table as .csv (228 bytes)

Percentage of Self-Reported Online Offending among 12- to 18-Year-Olds

Percentage of Self-Reported Online Offending among 12- to 18-Year-Olds
Online total34,736,6
Digitized crime15,319,4

Note. Sample size 2015 = 1,469, 2020 (Q1) = 615

Source table as .csv (88 bytes)

Fewer Adolescents Report Committing Traditional Offenses

In 2020, just over 35% of adolescents (aged 18-23) reported committing a traditional offense, which is a decrease from 2015. Additionally, 15% of adolescents report committing cyber and/or digitized crimes, which is also lower than in 2015.

Looking at trends in gender and migration backgrounds, we see the following. Among adolescent women, offending has decreased, and among adolescent men, there is both a decrease in cybercrime and so-called adult offenses, such as driving under influence and various forms of fraud. Among adolescents with a Dutch background, self-reported offending decreased, while offending behavior among those with a migration background remains stable.

Self-Reported Possession of Weapons and Drug Trafficking Differ from Police Statistics

Much media attention is awarded to increased juvenile involvement in stabbing incidents and possession of weapons, as well as drug trafficking. This increase is also reflected in police statistics. However, this trend is not apparent in self-report data. Self-reported offending statistics show a stable picture regarding possession of weapon offenses from 2005 to 2021. The percentage of juveniles and adolescents reporting drug trafficking (regardless of drug type) in the previous year is lower in 2020 than in 2015.

  • Image: ©ANP

More Juveniles have become Victims of Hacking

Compared to 2015, victimization among 12- to 18-year-olds from traditional offenses decreased in 2020. Conversely, victimization of hacking increased during this period. Victimization due to offenses such as online fraud and hacking is at a comparable level to various, traditional violent offenses. About one in twenty juveniles report being a victim of online fraud or hacking in 2020.

See also: Chapter 2 Self-reported Offending from the Juvenile Crime Monitor 2020 (only available in Dutch)

A More Nuanced Picture of Trends and Developments in Juvenile Crime

The self-reported offending of juvenile crime only provides part of the actual juvenile crime picture. Many of these crimes go unnoticed by the police and other criminal justice system actors. Moreover, young people generally report committing less severe and more common types of offenses. A more nuanced picture of the developments in juvenile crime based on a variety of sources is provided in the full Juvenile Crime Monitor.

Summer 2024: New Results on Self-reported offending

In 2023, juveniles will once again be surveyed about their offending behavior in the previous year. The results of this self-reported offending measurement will follow in 2024.