Sociology 2267A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Youth Criminal Justice Act, Juvenile Delinquency, Dominatrix
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Unit 12 - Chapter 12
A Century After the Fact: What do we know? Where are we going?
We have spent our time in this course looking at the problem of youth crime including its
incidence, theories of juvenile delinquency and crime, and the response of the juvenile justice
system toward youth crime. We continue to see changes in Canada in the youth justice system,
most recently through the introduction of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. An effective response
to youth crime requires changes in structure, philosophy, and policy as well as law reform.
Reform needs to be looked at critically in the context of the vast amount of research and theory
that has been developed on youth crime. Given the theoretical and empirical base we need to
make sure that this understanding of youth crime allows us to deal with it in an effective manner.
We also need to be aware of the historical developments within the youth justice system in order
that we learn from past responses what is not effective and what is simply more of the same old
Rethinking Juvenile Justice
Two issues are important to consider in rethinking juvenile justice: youth crime is not as frequent
or violent as the public perceive; and our current response to youth crime is failing youth.
Meaningful reform will address youth crime not solely as a problem of the individual
but holistically as part of a larger picture that includes addressing all aspects of youth issues.
Responses to the problem of youth crime need to be coordinated in order to address the larger
context of problems facing youth. This will require law reform and structural changes that
combine child welfare needs and juvenile justice interventions. As well, enhancing coordination
with public health and recognizing the victimization of youth will contribute to dealing with the
larger issues facing youth.
A holistic approach entails not only coordination between community agencies and government
branches but also involvement of the community including young people. It also entails doing
something before crime happens so that prevention becomes an important aspect of the response
to youth issues. Issues such as abuse, poverty, and difficulties in school all contribute to the
potential for youth to become further marginalized in society. These factors not only make youth
more vulnerable to becoming involved in crime but are also barriers to reintegrating youth as
productive members of society.
Positive and Negative Directions
Current proposals for law reform and new programs and policies are tending to focus on
deterrence and punishment as part of a "get tough" philosophy. The Youth Criminal Justice Act
clearly states that protection of society is its paramount goal. This emphasis reflects the "get
tough" philosophy, as do certain aspects of the legislation itself.
In contrast to the "get tough" philosophy is a new healing philosophy, which is rooted in
Aboriginal culture. Historically in Canada, crime has been viewed as a transgression against a
victim or "society" and therefore the individual must be punished or rehabilitated accordingly. A
more holistic approach is that offered by healing philosophy, which recognizes that a harm has
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