Lesson 4: Youth Criminal Justice Act Introduction


Activity 1: Youth Crime in Canada

Give students participation marks on group discussions and work on Handout 1: YCJA Crime Quiz - How much do you know?

Answer Key: Handout 1: YCJA Crime Quiz

  1. No, it is decreasing. From 1991 to 2006 youth crime decreased 49% in BC. Youth crime is going down across Canada, in both rural and urban neighbourhoods.
  2. 25% and 80% of those were assaults, for example, hitting someone.
  3. The law says children under 12 years old can’t be charged and taken to criminal court. He or she can be treated through the mental health system or receive protection from a child protection agency. If the police catch a child younger than 12 doing something wrong, they will take the child home and tell the parents, refer the child to the Ministry of Children and Families or ensure the child gets treatment from a mental health facility. The parents may get other help at the school or in the community.
  4. Young people are adults at 18. There is a special law for youth age 12 to 17. It is called the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA).
  5. More are 16-to 17-years old. In 2009-2010, 32% were 17, 26% were 16, 20% were 15, 12%were 14, 6% were 13 and 2% were 12.
  6. No. Young people are sent to a special youth jail for serious crimes when it is necessary to protect the public. Some youth are sent to live in special places, for example a group home run by the government. Others may get help from local community groups.
  7. The sentence should depend on the seriousness of the crime. It should prevent future crimes as well as repairing the harm the young person did. It may include probation with conditions, repayment, community service, or attendance in programs. For example, a young person may have to apologize to the victim and pay (with money or work) for damage she did. Sometimes a young person has to pay a fine or do some volunteer work in the community. She may be on probation and have to follow some special rules like living in a specified place, going to school, staying at home in the evening or staying away from certain places or certain people. She may have to attend a special program, for example, a program to teach anger control.
  8. Most young people can grow up and change while staying at home with their families. Programs in the community are usually the most successful way to help them. Young people are different from adults—they have different problems and different needs.
  9. Yes, but only for serious crimes like murder, and only if the young person is over 14.A judge must agree an adult sentence is necessary.
  10. Common examples are assaults, breaking and entering, possession of or selling drugs, stealing cars, and shoplifting.
  11. a) If the police stop or arrest a young person they have to tell him or her why.
    b) The young person can talk to a lawyer and parent (or adult) before talking to police.
    c) The young person is considered innocent until s/he goes to court and a judge decides the person is guilty.
    d) The Crown counsel has to prove in court that the young person is guilty.A victim impact statement is used at the time of sentencing, and is given to the judge to review. In this way the victim has a very real voice in describing how the crime has impacted their life. Also, the victim has a right to know what charges have been approved, when and where the next court appearance is, what the conditions of release are and what is the final disposition of the case. In addition, under the YCJA, the victim will have access to the name of the young offender in certain cases. And finally, the victim can play a role in determining the consequences for the crime, such an apology, restitution, or compensation.

Activity 2: Introduction to the Youth Criminal Justice Act

Give students participation marks on group discussions on the scenarios or on the presentation of their news articles.

Activity 3: Overview of the Youth Criminal Justice Act

Handout 4: What’s It All About? Youth Justice can be handed in for marks.  Groups can be marked on the presentation of their case study by the teacher and/or their classmates. Answer Key: Handout 4:  What’s It All About? Youth Justice

1.) F                9.) T 

2.) T                10.) T 

3.) T                11.) T 

4) F                 12.) F 

5.) T                13.) T 

6.) F                14.) F 

7.) T                15.) T  

8.) T                16.) T


Activity 5: Legal Eagle Youth Justice Game

Question and Answer Key: Legal Eagle Youth Justice Game

Youth Law Questions & Answers

  1. Q. Why does the law treat young offenders differently from adults?
    A. The law recognizes a young person may not be old enough or have enough experience to always make responsible choices and to foresee the probable consequences of his or her actions.
  2. Q. Does a young person who is questioned by the police have the right to remain silent?
    A. Yes
  3. Q. Can you be arrested without being told why?
    A. No, you have to be told the reason why you are being arrested.
  4. Q. After you’ve been arrested, can you be detained or held in custody for as long as the police like?
    A. No, you have to be brought before a judge as soon as possible.
  5. Q. Can an 11-year-old who breaks the law be dealt with under the YCJA?
     A. No
  6. Q. If you are arrested and your case goes to trial, do you have a right to be represented in court by a lawyer?
    A. Yes
  7. Q. If a youth who commits a crime has to go to court, what happens if he or she can’t afford a lawyer?
    A. One will be supplied through legal aid.
  8. Q. What does a community justice conference do for youth who have offended?
    A. It allows the youth to understand the consequences of what he or she did and provides advice to judges on an appropriate response. It means a youth doesn’t have to go to court.
  9. Q. Name two things the law says about violent, repeat offenders over the age of 14.
    A. They can be sent to jail. They can be given an adult sentence.
  10. Q. Name two or more options the law has for non-violent offenders.
    A. They can get a warning, a caution, or a reprimand. They can be referred to a community program. They can be told to do something for the victim to make up for the crime or to do some appropriate community service.
  11. Q. Young people aged 12 to 17 are not punished for the crimes they commit.
    A. False.

True or False?

  1. Q. Two of the overall principles of the youth justice system are to prevent crime and to provide real consequences to youth who offend.
    A. True.
  2. Q.  Youth who commit crimes have the right to a lawyer and the right to remain silent.
    A. True.
  3. Q. Parents are not part of the process after a youth is arrested.
    A. False.
  4. Q. Police can decide whether or not to refer the youth to a community program rather than go to court. A. True.
  5. Q. Police just warn the youth who has committed a serious crime.
    A. False.
  6. Q. Alternatives to going to court are called "extra judicial measures."
    A. True.
  7. Q. If a youth is tried in youth court he or she may receive an adult sentence if convicted of attempted murder.
    A. True.
  8. Q. The person who decides whether or not to charge a young offender with an offence is called Crown counsel.
    A. True.
  9. Q. A judge would sentence a youth to jail only if the crime was really serious.
    A. True.
  10. Q. The Youth Criminal Justice Act says young offenders should be sent to jail for first-time, non-violent offences.
    A. False.
  11. Q. Victims are allowed to make statements to the court about how the crime has affected them.
    A. True.
  12. Q. Repairing the harm done to the victim is a consequence a youth might face.
    A. True.
  13. Q. Performing community service hours is the only consequence for a youth convicted of murder.
    A. False.
  14. Q. Counselling for anger management could be part of a sentence.
    A. True.
  15. Q. A youth criminal record has no effect once the youth who offended turns 18 years old.
    A. False. It depends on the seriousness of the offence. Also, if further offences are committed the youth record may become part of the adult record.
  16. Q. Following a rehabilitation program helps young people stay out of trouble.
    A. True.
  17. Q. The name of a youth who offends may be published.
    A. True.
  18. Q. Traditional Aboriginal justice aims for honesty and harmony. Honesty and harmony are brought about by repairing the harm done.
    A. True.
  19. Q. Traditional Aboriginal justice principles can be used when a young offender is referred to a community-based program to deal with the offence.
    A. True.
  20. Q. When a judge sentences an Aboriginal youth, the judge must consider the fact that he or she is Aboriginal.

Youth Crime Questions & Answers

  1. Q. Is youth crime in Canada increasing?
    A. No.
  2. Q. What percentage of young people charged with crimes have done something violent?
    A. 25% (half points for any percentage under 30%)
  3. Q. What happens if a child under 12 years old breaks the law?
    A. The young person can’t be put through the criminal justice system. The behaviour of a child under 12 is the responsibility of the parents.
  4. Q. At what age does the law say young people are adults?
    A. 18
  5. Q. Do more 16- to 17-year-olds get in trouble or more 12- to 13-year-olds?
    A. 16 to 17
  6. Q. Do the judges sentence most young offenders to jail?
    A. No.
  7. Q. What can a judge order a young person to do instead of going to jail?
    A. Many things, for example, probation with conditions, repayment, community service, or attendance in programs.
  8. Q. Why are young offenders kept with their families when possible?
    A. They can grow up and change while staying at home. The law supports rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
  9. Q. Can a young person be given an adult sentence?
    A. Yes.
  10. Q. What are some common examples of crimes that young people commit?
    A. Minor theft, possession of stolen property.
  11. Q. What rights do young people have when they are arrested?
    They have all the rights that adults have, plus some more because they are youth. They can talk to parents or other adults and a lawyer before deciding if they want to talk to the police. They have the right to remain silent. They are innocent until a judge decides they are guilty.