The Real Issue Behind Youth Crime in Canada

By Allie Romanick

Annotated Bibliography

 

1. Charters, Owen. “Youth crime prevention is something we need to invest now.” Herald Opinions, 3 Mar. 2017.

This opinion piece explains the problem of youth crime in Toronto this past year. Charters informs the reader that the reasons for youth crime vary but are usually relating to poor supervision by working parents, relationship difficulties, and negative school and peer interactions. Most children stop committing crimes when they are adults, but it is still a problem when they are young. He states that Canada’s crime prevention programs need to be redeveloped. This piece is relevant to my podcast because I am interested in pursuing youth crime. It strengthens the opinions in the piece I chose to react to as that one also talks about how the punishments for youth crime should be more severe. This article allows me to see that multiple people have the same opinions that punishments for youth crime need to be improved in order to help the children succeed.

 

2. “Snapshot.” Snapshot | LawLessons.Ca, www.lawlessons.ca/lesson-plans/2.3.legal-rights-for-youth-snapshot.

This is a great website I found for my topic. It includes many different lessons such as Legal Rights for Youth, an Introduction on the Youth Criminal Justice Act, Key Elements of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and Sentencing and Records. Each lesson has multiple topics relating to the heading, activities, and resources. This will allow me to delve in deep to the laws youth face in Canada as well as current repercussions. It will help me in producing my podcast because I will be able to welcome differing opinions while having the knowledge of what they write about. It will also help me form my own opinions and incorporate those into my questions for the audience.

 

3. Malakieh, Jamil. “Youth correctional statistics in Canada, 2015/2016.” Statistics Canada, 1 Mar. 2017.

Statistics Canada is a good resource to provide current information about the number of kids in the criminal system, how much money our government spends on facilities and programs, and how all of this has changed from the past. It can show whether it has improved and can give a good sense of the direction our society is heading in regards to youth crime. It can give small pieces of information that are quick and informative. I think some of these statistics will help me show the importance of why we should care about the issue of youth crime and rehabilitation.

 

4. Rankin, Jim, and Sandro Contenta. “Suspended sentences: Forging a school-to-Prison pipeline?” The Toronto Star, 6 June 2009.

This article was included in the online Toronto Star newspaper. It talks about the school-to-prison pipeline and explains what that actually is and how it affects children as they grow. I actually used this source to help me in my episode pitch. It gave me the information to explain the school-to-prison pipeline and why the more serious issue is crime prevention rather than harsher punishments. I think it can help me in my podcast because it forms the basis of my opinion in the episode and I can ask for opinions on the concept in my vignettes. 

 

5. Doob, Anthony N., and Carla Cesaroni. Responding to Youth Crime in Canada. University of Toronto Press, 2004.

This is a scholarly source. It is a book written by a Canadian criminologist and professor of criminology at the University of Toronto. He is one of the best criminologists in Canada and is a recognized Canadian scholar in his field. This book builds on previous information that he studied but he has updated it to make it more current for the time. It talks about what youth crime is, youth justice, responding to youth crime, understanding youth crime, etc. While I will not read the whole book, I read the first chapter introducing all of these topics and I think it will help me in my podcast because I can refer to it in my introduction to explain what my topic is about and use current Canadian information, making it applicable to the listeners.

 

6. Lodewijks, Henny P. B., et al. “The Impact of Protective Factors in Desistance From Violent Reoffending.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 25, no. 3, July 2009, pp. 568–587., doi:10.1177/0886260509334403.

This scholarly source talks about the protective factors that help stop adolescents in reoffending. There are three case studies in this journal that include different children at different stages in their rehabilitation processes. The results found that the protective factors in place for these kids helped decrease the risk of reoffending. There is also research included when protective factors were not in place. This journal will help me with my podcast because I can ask my vignettes for their opinion on the protective measures taken for these children in relation to the change of reoffending. This piece can allow me to talk about which rehabilitation techniques are most successful with my vignettes.  

 

7. Case, Anne, and Lawrence Katz. “The Company You Keep: The Effects of Family and Neighborhood on Disadvantaged Youths.” 1991, doi:10.3386/w3705.

This scholarly source explains the relationship between youth crime and their families and neighbourhoods. They conducted their study on youths living in low-income households in the city of Boston. The survey includes family background variables like church attendance, drug use, and criminal records of other family members, and it also looks at the influences of peers in the neighbourhood. They found that family background is related to the socioeconomic outcomes of disadvantaged youths. Children tended to follow in their parents’ and older siblings’ footsteps. This is an important source for my podcast because I hope to provide some information on the effect of the community on youth crime and this journal gives me a lot of information to work with.

 

8. Agnew, Robert. “The Interactive Effects Of Peer Variables On Delinquency.” Criminology, vol. 29, no. 1, 1991, pp. 47–72., doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.1991.tb01058.x.

This scholarly journal is by Robert Agnew who focuses his research on the causes of delinquency. In this journal, he explains the factors that impact peer delinquency such as attachment, time spent together, the extent to which the delinquent patterns are expressed, etc. If those factors are low, there is little to no impact on youth crime but if all of these are high, there is a relationship between them. I thought it was interesting to see the amount of influence peers can have on children and it relates to an article I used for my podcast pitch. I talked about the hierarchy in schools that also occur in juvenile detention so this journal can be used to expand that conversation in my actual episode. 

9. “A Statistical Snapshot of Youth at Risk and Youth Offending in Canada.” Public Safety Canada / Sécurité Publique Canada, 31 Jan. 2018, www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/ststclsnpsht-yth/index-en.aspx.

This is another website showing statistics about youth crime in Canada. By using additional statistics I think I will be able to convince the listeners that it is a problem in our neighbourhoods, even if they might not witness it themselves. The website begins with statistics about common family structures in Canada, the average income in the population, employment rates, mental health statistics, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder statistics, victimization among youth, and school dropout rates. The second part includes statistics specifically focusing on youth offending.

 

10. Kerr, Jaren. “Toronto Police Announce Program Aimed at Keeping Youth out of Court System.” Thestar.com, 20 June 2017, www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/06/20/toronto-police-announce-program-aimed-at-keeping-youth-out-of-court-system.html.

This source is an article posted on the Toronto Star website. It speaks about the Toronto police introducing a program with the hopes that they reduce the number of children who enter the court system in order to give them a chance to better their lives. It is called the Youth Pre-Charge Diversion Program and is for people under 18 who commit crimes. They work with community programs instead of being convicted. This article can help with my podcast because it can show that some measures to help the children are already being taken, rather than just adjusting the punishments given to them.

 

11. Charters, Owen. “The Best Youth Crime Prevention Program? A Sense Of Belonging.” HuffPost Canada, HuffPost Canada, 17 Feb. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.ca/owen-charters/youth-crime-prevention_b_14772884.html.

This is another opinion piece published in the Huffington Post. It includes information about teens being shot at on several occasions in Toronto with no evidence that they were actually guilty in each situation. It includes information about youth gangs poor school programs that become risk factors for youth criminal behaviour. Finally, it offers a solution to promote healthy physical, mental, and social development in order to help youth discover their abilities and build confidence. I think this piece can help in my podcast because I can use his ideas to intrigue the listeners and offer varying opinions from multiple sources.

 

12. Cleo. “Tribunals, Courts and the Legal System – Court Systems.” Your Legal Rights, CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation Juridique Communautaire Ontario), 12 Sept. 2016, yourlegalrights.on.ca/resource/84306.

This is a guide to youth criminal court in Toronto. It was designed for children who were charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and describes their rights, what could happening before the court date, and expectations within the courtroom. I believe it will help with my episode because I can address the fact that children do not know what will happen as they commit the crimes, they do not know how serious their actions could become, and they do not have the mental capacity to stand up to peers and make the right choice for themselves. This source was created to help them after they already made a mistake, so it proves my point that they need more help before the negative actions are carried out.

 

13. Currie, Janet, and Erdal Tekin. “Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?” The National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006, doi:10.3386/w12171.

This scholarly source was written by two professors who work in the departments of economics at Columbia University and Georgia State University. Their research focuses on determining the effects of child mistreatment on crime. The recognize the limitations of the existing studies on child maltreatment and attempt to address this issue in their study by using larger samples and looking at different types of abuse. This source aided me in my podcast research as I included it in my introduction to inform the listeners about the characteristics of children delinquents.

 

14. “Neuropsychiatric, psychoeducational, and family characteristics of 14 juveniles condemned to death in the United States.” American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 145, no. 5, 1988, pp. 584–589., doi:10.1176/ajp.145.5.584.

This is another scholarly source written by 7 authors, all with M.D.’s and/or Ph.D.’s. They conducted a study on 14 children that were condemned to death in the United States. In the article, they include statistics and information dating back to 1642. The study was useful to my podcast because I was able to compare the characteristics and situations of the children criminals in the study and use that information to convey the point that the main issue is addressing the cause of the criminal activity. With the study showing that most children suffered from traumas, mental disorders, and abuse, it made it clear in my first vignette that we should care about helping these children first before creating harsher punishments.

 

 Episode Pitch Written Transcript

Punishments for youth crime aren’t serious enough in Canada. Let’s take a minute to think about that statement. It’s the title of a piece that was published in The Cord – the newspaper at Wilfred Laurier University. The writer was anonymous but thinks that the Youth Criminal Justice Act is too lenient in regards to serious youth crime – the writer’s exact words. Youth crime is a current issue in society but the writer’s opinion that it remains on the backburner might not necessarily be true. The piece says that serious crime re-offenders have already gone through reintegration programs, which failed to rehabilitate their actions. Well there is a reason for that. Many studies show that jail time can actually make kids worse than before they went in. Kids form relationships with their peers and this is the same within the criminal justice system. They form social hierarchies but unlike in schools, in jail the kids who committed the most terrible crime become the most popular. It makes them cool to be in jail for something truly horrible. So the kids leave and want to come back for something bigger and badder to make them the head of their gang. It becomes a competition.

Unfortunately, it’s the kids who come from minority cultures and low-income families that struggle the most because they don’t get much support at home or at school. There’s something called the school-to-prison pipeline which is the more serious issue here. It’s not about the punishments when the kids commit the crime; it’s about crime prevention and guiding these kids before it’s too late. This issue lies within the schools as well. The kids usually come from single parent households or parents with substance abuse issues or multiple jobs so they don’t get the supervision they need growing up. Then they go to school hoping for a teacher or some friends to support them but the teachers are focused on making the school look good. The kids get suspended or expelled for small incidents so they don’t show up on the school’s record.

These kids live on our streets. They commit crimes affecting us. Not just themselves. They are young and have their whole lives ahead of them so we can either scrutinize them and give them harsher punishments that will probably end up backfiring or we can fix the real problem and do what we can to support them before anything gets out of hand. Psychologists, teachers, and law enforcement officers all have their opinions on the issue at stake as well. Let’s hear what some of them have to say about it and whether they think punishments are actually helpful for society.