Lesson 4: Youth Criminal Justice Act Introduction


Grade Level



2-3 periods

Lesson Plan (PDF)


The Canadian justice system recognizes that youth crime and adult crime need to be dealt with differently. Maturity is a factor in making choices and being able to foresee the probable consequences of your actions. This lesson starts with a discussion of youth crime in Canada and looks at some statistics. Then the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) is introduced and an overview of its provisions is given. The concepts learned are then reviewed in the Legal Eagle Youth Justice Game.  

The YCJA applies to people 12 to 17 years of age, inclusive. The purpose of the legislation is to prevent crime by addressing the circumstances underlying a young person’s offending behaviour, to rehabilitate young persons who commit offences and reintegrate them into society and to ensure that a young person is subject to meaningful consequences for his or her offence.


Upon completion of this lesson, students will:

  • Discuss their prior knowledge and attitudes about youth crime in Canada
  • Understand the specific needs of youth offenders compared to adult offenders
  • Gain some basic knowledge about why we have youth legislation
  • Understand the principles and provisions of the YCJA
  • Apply the information learned to scenarios
  • Preview and review the legal concepts learned by playing the Legal Eagle Youth Justice Game

Focus Questions

  1. What are our perceptions of youth crime in Canada?
  2. What are the actual statistics about youth crime in Canada?
  3. Why do we have a Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)?
  4. Who does the YCJA apply to?
  5. How does it promote the long-term protection of the people?
  6. What are the measures used to deal with youth crime and what issues should they address?
  7. What is a youth’s right to “due process”?
  8. What are extrajudicial measures and sanctions? How do they impact youth criminal cases?
  9. What differences exist for non-violent and violent offenders and for first time and repeat offenders?
  10. What is rehabilitation?
  11. What is reintegration?
  12. What is the role of parents, victims and the community?

Teaching Summary

Topic 1: Youth Crime in Canada

Students will work on a Crime Quiz in groups to discover what perceptions they have about youth crime.  Discussion of their answers and a review of statistics on youth crime will complete this topic.

Topic 2: Introduction to the Youth Criminal Justice Act

Students will work on collecting news articles or on the provided scenarios to start them thinking about how youth crime is dealt with in Canada. The purpose behind the YCJA will be introduced to them and discussed.

Topic 3: Overview of the YCJA

Students will read an overview for homework. Highlights will be reviewed by the teacher and then students will complete a work sheet. They will also work on a case study in a group and decide how the youth in the scenario will be dealt with under the YCJA.  It will allow them to apply the information they have learned. You can do optional activity 3 to have students create a video showing their point of view about young offenders using the website www.LawProject.ca. The final activity is playing the Legal Eagle Youth Justice Game as a review and reinforcement of some of the important facts in the lesson.