Police-registered offenses and psychiatric disorders among young males

The Finnish “From a boy to a man” birth cohort study
  • Henrik Elonheimo
  • Solja Niemelä
  • Kai Parkkola
  • Petteri Multimäki
  • Hans Helenius
  • Ari-Matti Nuutila
  • Andre Sourander



To study associations between crime and psychiatric disorders among adolescent males in a representative population-based cohort study.


The sample includes 2,712 Finnish boys born in 1981. Information on criminality consists of offenses registered in the Finnish National Police Register 1998–2001. Crime was classified according to frequency and type (drug, violent, property, traffic, and drunk driving offenses). Information on psychiatric diagnoses between 1999 and 2004 was collected from the Finnish National Military Register.


Of the 2,712 boys, 22% had a crime registration during the 4-year period, and 10% had at least one psychiatric disorder according to the Military Register. Those with psychiatric disorders accounted for 49% of all crimes. Of those with more than five crimes (n = 98), 59% had psychiatric diagnoses. After adjusting for other crime types and childhood socio-economic status, property crime was independently associated with several diagnoses: antisocial personality (APD), substance use (SUD), psychotic, anxiety, and adjustment disorders. Drug offending was independently associated with APD, SUD, and psychotic disorder, and traffic offenses with APD.


Youth crime is predominantly associated with antisocial personality and substance use disorders. Crime prevention efforts should focus on boys showing a risk for antisocial and substance use problems. In particular, property, drug, and repeat offenders need mental health and substance use assessment. There is a need to develop integrated mental health and substance use treatment services for young offenders within or alongside the criminal justice system.

Key words

crime psychiatric disorder youth birth cohort 



This study was supported by The Finnish Pediatric Research Foundation, Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation, Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Alcohol Research Foundation, and Turku University Hospital (EVO-grants). The authors thank Ph.D. Jaana Haapasalo for commenting a draft of this report, M.A. Jacqueline Välimäki for revision of the language, and M.Sc. Lauri Sillanmäki for statistical help.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrik Elonheimo
    • 1
  • Solja Niemelä
    • 2
  • Kai Parkkola
    • 3
  • Petteri Multimäki
    • 4
  • Hans Helenius
    • 5
  • Ari-Matti Nuutila
    • 1
  • Andre Sourander
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Dept. of Child PsychiatryUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Archipelago Sea Naval CommandTurkuFinland
  4. 4.Dept. of Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  5. 5.Dept. of BiostatisticsUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  6. 6.RBUP, Institute of Clinical MedicineUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  7. 7.Visiting Dept. of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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