Decline in smoking, drug use among Dutch youth

Dutch youth smoke less, drink less, use fewer drugs and are less often in trouble with the law, according to Statistics Netherlands 2016 Youth Monitor which was published on Thursday, the Telegraaf reports.

The number of young people in the Netherlands suspected of a crime halved since 2007 to 2.2 percent. The number of kids between the ages of 12 to 17 who smoke declined from 33 percent in 2011 to 23 percent. This includes both smokers and young people who ever tried a cigarette. The figures for kids age 12 to 16 years who use alcohol, tobacco or cannabis also plummeted in that period.

Former police officer a professor of criminology Arjan Blokland does not think this decline can be attributed solely to the Netherlands' efforts. Juvenile crime also fell in other Western European countries and the United States. "That suggests that something larger is behind this trend" he said to the newspaper. 

He thinks the trend can partly be attributed to the fact that young people spend more time behind the computer than with each other on the street. "Among themselves outside without parental supervision is crime enhancing. At home behind he computer, it's harder to vandalize the park bench", he said. 

Another theory is that today's technology - surveillance cameras, security gates, security locks - make it harder to commit the petty crimes young people are often associated with. "Fewer young people start doing crime because the threshold is higher for offenses with which people usually start their criminal careers. Older criminals asked why the stopped also say: 'it used to be easier'."