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Teaching Youth Justice

Section One: Justice and the Community

Testing boundaries is part of growing up. Some youth act out, defiantly rebelling against societal norms. In most instances, this behaviour does not involve criminal activity. In some instances, though, youth do commit crimes. These youth may not have been equipped by their families, their communities, their schools, or society to deal with the forces that can lead to criminal activity.

Crime cannot be prevented by simply removing those who have committed a crime from the community. Incarceration in and of itself is not an effective deterrent beyond the period of incarceration. Instead, those who have committed offences need to learn to adjust to, respect, and
appreciate their communities. By remaining in the community instead of being incarcerated, young people can learn to assume responsibility for solving their personal problems and learn to manage their own behaviour. This can help prevent future crimes, and help prevent youth from being
incarcerated as adults.

There are many methods and ways to establish a place for youth in the community, such as restoring family ties, offering programs that create a positive sense of commonality, creating employment opportunities, and making education a viable alternative. Efforts like this help young people recognize themselves as functioning members of their community and society at large, bringing them into a community’s social routines.

This section introduces the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act and their relation to active participation in the community. It begins with a discussion of the history of youth justice and the idea of criminal responsibility for youth (Lesson 1.1) then asks students to consider how they would address criminal scenarios that took place in their community (Lesson 1.2). With these basic understandings, students will explore the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act in more detail (Lesson 1.3) then study how its provisions can be used to address less-serious crimes (Lessons 1.4 and 1.5).

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