The accuracy of measuring the prevalence of delinquency by means of self-reported questionnaires is difficult to evaluate. This study assesses the differential validity of self-reported delinquency in adolescents and, more specifically, self-reported police contacts because of suspected misconduct. This study was conducted as part of the Rotterdam Youth Monitor, a youth health surveillance system. Self-report data of pupils (mainly 12-15 years old) in the first or third grade of secondary school in the school years 2007-8 and 2008-9 (n = 23,914) were merged with police data. Of the pupils registered as a suspect, 62 percent admitted to having been interrogated at the police station. However, there were differences between groups. Multivariate analysis showed that Moroccan pupils and first-grade pupils were more likely to give an invalid response. Pupils who were registered for theft, vandalism or assault were more likely to give a valid response, whereas pupils who were registered for an offence involving fireworks were more likely to give an invalid response. We conclude that using only self-reported data to measure delinquency in an ethnically diverse population results in substantial bias. It is advisable to use multiple sources to measure the prevalence of delinquency.,
European Journal of Criminology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Batenburg-Eddes, T., Butte, D., van de Looij-Jansen, P., Schiethart, W., Raat, H., & de Waart, F. (2012). Measuring juvenile delinquency: How do self-reports compare with official police statistics?. European Journal of Criminology, 9(1), 23–37. doi:10.1177/1477370811421644