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In Responding to Youth Crime in Canada, Anthony Doob and Carla Cesaroni describe how Canada has been responding to youth crime in the context of the.
Table of contents

This change has led to an increase in overall violent crime statistics. The increase in these statistics is also due, in part, to mounting intolerance of violence in any form.

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According to youth justice workers, minor acts of aggression are being reported to police with increasing frequency, as indicated by the tendency for school authorities to report youths involved in "school yard fights" to the authorities. Some analysts suggest that the level of fear currently experienced by Canadians is in part related to economic uncertainty. The high unemployment rate has contributed to a climate of insecurity and vulnerability and spawned social and economic problems that promote a sense of social disintegration. Since its passage in , certain provisions of the YOA have been criticized by law enforcers, victims' groups and professionals working in the youth justice system for failing to deter serious youth crimes.

In response, the Act was amended to allow for the public identification of young offenders, to raise the maximum sentence for murder and to clarify the intention of the Act with respect to transfers to adult court. The Act protects the privacy of young persons by prohibiting the media from publicly revealing the identity of accused and convicted young people involved in criminal proceedings. Underlying this provision is the belief that to apply deviant labels to youths for offences committed at an immature age may magnify such activity.

Law enforcers were critical of the initial drafting of this provision because it prevented them from alerting the public about youths at large in the community who were considered dangerous. In , amendments to the Act were made to permit the public disclosure of the identity of an accused or convicted young offender if the youth poses a threat to the public and if such disclosure is necessary to assist in an arrest. In , the Act was amended in response to criticisms that the sentences handed down to young offenders who had committed murder were too low either to deter others or to rehabilitate the offender.

The maximum sentence in youth court for murder was lengthened to five years - three years to be served in custody and the last two under supervision in the community.

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If the youth is considered a threat to public safety, however, he or she may be held in custody longer than three years. The Act allows accused young persons 14 years of age and over who are alleged to have committed a serious indictable offence to be transferred to adult court. In , the intention of the Act was clarified; it now states that if the protection of the public and the rehabilitation of the offender cannot be achieved by sentences available in the youth court, the youth must be transferred to adult court.

However, different remedies are still available for young people; young people sentenced to life imprisonment for murder in adult court are not eligible for parole for between five and ten years. As well, the adult court judge has the option of sentencing a convicted youth to a young offender facility. Campbell also identified other policy issues related to the YOA that are of concern to Canadians - the minimum and maximum age of youth-court jurisdiction and the publication of the names of young offenders. In September , the Department of Justice released a public consultation paper on violent and repeat young offenders.

The provinces, non-governmental organizations, community groups and private citizens from across the country were invited to make their views known to the department on how to respond more effectively to youth crime in Canada. The paper advances particular proposals reflecting public criticism. The current Minister of Justice, Mr. Alan Rock, has extended the public consultation until January The Liberal Party program 28 includes proposals to increase youth court maximum sentences for first- and second-degree murder; relax the requirement that police records on young offenders automatically be destroyed after fixed time periods; allow disclosure of the identity of certain convicted violent young offenders; expand access to treatment and rehabilitation programs; and create a category of "dangerous youth offender" to be applied to persistent and dangerous young offenders.

The Reform Party 29 would lower the minimum age of youth criminal responsibility to 10 years and the maximum age to 15 years; allow the identity of young offenders 14 and over, and in certain cases of 10 to year-olds, to be made public; retain youth records; hold parents legally responsible for the illegal acts of their children; and place emphasis on education, community service, skills training and discipline in custodial settings.

The New Democratic Party 30 proposals call for a review of the overall effectiveness of the YOA and the youth justice system in this country. Specific issues to be scrutinized would include sentencing practices, to ensure that repeat, violent offenders receive sentences proportionate to their crimes, and the provisions in the Act that impose barriers on professional intervention aimed at treating and rehabilitating young offenders. Most agree that the incidence of youth crime in Canada, notably offences involving interpersonal aggression, and its associated costs, are cause for concern.

Crime harms individuals and the community. Laying criminal charges after a criminal act has been committed offers, at best, short-term relief, according to advocates of crime prevention through social intervention. Crime-control measures punish, but fail to address and defuse, the factors that are at the root of interpersonal and property crimes.

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In other words, solutions to crime will not be found in punishment or the legal process alone. Clearly, there are violent youths and repeat offenders who, by virtue of the threat they present to public safety and security, must be removed from civil society and, through treatment and education programs in custodial facilities, must be afforded the opportunity to become productive members of society.

These measures constitute only one component of a crime prevention strategy, however. Social development proponents recommend measures that target at-risk youth and identify and attempt to alleviate economic, social and psychological problems and thus to prevent youth crime before it occurs. It is widely accepted among criminologists that there is no single root cause of crime; it is the outcome of the interaction of a host of associated background factors that include: Indeed, an examination of the backgrounds of young violent offenders strongly suggests that being a direct or indirect victim of physical and sexual abuse breeds violence.

A Manitoba study examined 35 sex offenders, all aged 14, who, by the time they entered treatment, had collectively assaulted over 70 children in incidents. On average, the boys were aged twelve and a half when they began committing sexual assaults. Over half of their victims were seven years old or younger. Another study found the rate of wife-beating was 1, times higher for men who had witnessed violence in their childhood than for men who had not.

Youth Crime: Fear and Responses (BPe)

Childhood abuse breeds abusers Physically abused children are five times as likely to be violent as adults towards a family member. Sexually abused children are eight times as likely to be sexually violent as adults towards a family member. And severity of childhood abuse does not predict adult problems It's not how badly you were beaten. It's whether you were beaten. There is evidence that early, positive intervention in the lives of youth experiencing social, psychological and emotional deficits and disadvantages can deter them from embarking on a course of crime leading to persistent, serious offending.

On the other hand, advocates of crime prevention through tougher laws are of the view that harsh sentences deter crime.

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Crime control proponents claim that the Young Offenders Act 's weakness as a deterrent is a major source of young offending and re-offending. They believe significant numbers of young people would be deterred from engaging in crime if illicit behaviour yielded tougher sanctions. An example of a crime control response is the recent Ontario Ministry of Education policy that directs principals in public schools across the province to report immediately to the police all violent incidents that occur on school property.

Responding to youth crime in Canada /

They also both believe that a safe learning environment in which students, teachers and school staff are protected from personal harm is crucially important to the integrity of the education system. The reporting policy has been subject to criticism, however, because of its failure to define violence and to distinguish trivial acts from serious violent incidents.

In many cases, the misbehaviour of a school bully is a disciplinary matter that may be dealt with best by informal measures taken by the school administration and parents, or by more formal interventions such as mediation or counselling. A requirement to report all manifestations of aggression to police will, by definition, criminalize these behaviours.

In turn, the numbers of violent offence charges laid against young people, statistics on youth violence, the number of cases coming into youth courts, and the costs to the youth justice system will all rise. As well, public anxiety and fear about youth violence will be reinforced, some predict. In response to the provincial government directive, a number of school boards across Ontario have developed anti-violence policies that include expelling for life any student who uses weapons or commits an assault on school property.

According to two specialists on youth violence, a zero-tolerance policy to prevent violence may magnify, rather than deter, future violent behaviour. In situations where youth violence is a reaction to abuse and neglect in the family home or other social problems, support services, rather than legal interventions, or in addition to them, may be more appropriate.

As Tullio Caputo and Richard Weiler argue: Simply kicking kids out of school may result in their becoming increasingly marginalized. Moreover, the underlying factors resulting in violent behaviour are not directly addressed. A Toronto researcher who recently completed a report on school violence proposes peer counselling, conflict resolution, mediation and violence prevention programs to combat violence in the schools.

In order to respond intelligently to it and to evaluate the response of the state, two sets of information must be understood. First, society must try to understand what 'youth crime' looks like in Canada.

Second, in order to understand - and evaluate - the changes that are being made in youth justice legislation in Canada, a clear understanding of the manner in which the youth justice system currently operates is necessary. Unlike those who look to the youth justice system to solve the problem of youth crime, the authors suggest that we should look to the youth justice system to respond appropriately to the realities of what constitutes youth crime and look elsewhere to address how one might affect the level of youth crime in our society.

Doob, Voula Marinos, Kimberly N. Streaming of males and females in the juvenile justice system by Gloria Rhea Geller.

La delincuencia juvenil en Canada. The prevention of youthful crime: The great stumble forward: Victorian origins of juvenile delinquency: This may take some time. Please do NOT reload this page. HV D