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
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2007, 42 (6): 477-84

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

METHOD: 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.

RESULTS: 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.

CONCLUSIONS: 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.

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