Chapter One- The Rise and Fall of Delinquency
*key terms are bolded.
Chapter examines youth crime issues from a historical perspective (historical
documents, sociohistorical analyses, public concerns about youth crime
compared with contemporary public issues).
Public issues: matters of public concern that are debated in a variety of
forums and usually involve demands for actions.
Youth crime has always been a part of Canadian society, but not always a
The Public Issue
Last 2 decades, youth crime has been the subject of considerable public
concern and discourse.
Discourse: how things are talked about and understood both orally and in
written form, including formal and professional talk.
Focus of the media even in the 90s, by the ends of the 1990s, newspaper and
magazine headlines were fueling public concerns about violent events.
Includes headlines about violent events involving girls—“out of control
teenage girls,” reinforced by the death of Reena Virk (second degree murder
charge for a 16 y.o boy, and a 15 y.o girl, as well as 6 teenage girls charged
with aggravated assault)
School violence also a focus.
“crime is news”.
Politics of youth crime: the ways in which youth crime is understood and
talked about, both formally and informally, and the actions, laws and policies
that derive from this discourse.
Those who study the politics of youth crime are interested in the amount of
coverage devoted to youth crime.
Most recent police stats the rate of violent youth crime had remained
relatively stable since 1992, and decreased 2% in 2004.
Prompted people to question the effectiveness of our youth justice system.
The YOA was a slap on the wrist.
Major election issue in 1993.
Legislators revised the YOA 3 times before proposing legislation to replace it.
In 1995, justice minister Allan Rock requested the H of C Standing Committee
on Justice and Legal Affairs undertake a comprehensive review of the
juvenile justice system and that a Federal-Provincial-Territorial Task Force
review the YOA and its application.
Juvenile Justice System: a system of laws, policies, and practices designed
under the guiding philosophy that children and youth, because of their age and maturity, should not be subject to criminal law in the same manner as
Recommendations contained in these reports provided a foundation for
further modifications, and the first drafts of a new legislation.
By fall of 2001, the YCJA, Bill C-3, was poised to replace to YOA, it came into
effect in April 2003.
*Table on page 5*
new legislation did not stop the media’s attention on youth and their criminal
Party positions on youth justice did not change in 2006, still said they are out
Two Opposing Sides
Public forums held In various communities across the country to discuss
youth crime and propose solutions/make recommendations to the H of C b/c
of an aspect of the Liberal Government’s Strategy for Reform.
Youth advocates in forums included: social workers, lawyers, and others who
worked directly with youth offenders and saw youth as victims in need of
protection, they believed that the issues were the difficulties that youth
encounter in a complex society.
Economic, social, and politics realities are a source of hardship for some
young people and their families.
Often teens forced to leave home as a matter of survival [“voice box” 1.1 on
People in the “law and order” group of these meetings included police
officers, store security personnel, small business owners and homeowners
These people believe that both the youth and the YOA were problems.
Youth are problems because 1) lack respect for anyone or anything, with no
fear of using foul language. 2) lack a sense of responsibility for their criminal
behaviour 3) increasingly involved in violent criminal behaviour.
The YOA was viewed as a problem because: 1) youth could not be identified
2) youth were not punished for their crimes 3) youth had more rights than
their victims 4) youth were too protected by the YOA.
10 years later, meeting again because of the case of Theresa McEvoy, who
was killed as a result of her car being broad-sided by a 16 y.o. Issue: the
youth had been released 2 days earlier, pending sentence, after pleading
guilty to an earlier theft and car chase incident (details of the case on page 9).
Question? Why was the youth released when there was sufficient evidence
that he was at risk of reoffending and also an outstanding warrant for his
Larger Questions to be addressed concern the YCJA itself and the
administration of law in Nova Scotia—1) the systemic and individual failures
leading to the release of the youth two days prior to Theresa McEvoy’s death, 2) the extent to which YCJA provisions contributed to the release of the youth
and 3) the role of service providers in responding to at-risk youth both
before and after a youth’s criminal activity.
Problematize: a process whereby something, someone, or some groups
defined as a problem.
most basic underlying assumption about youth crime by the law and order
perspective is the notion that today’s youth are worse than they were in the
“good old days”.
Canadian stats as far back as 1885 indicate that young people have always
been involved in criminal activity, some of it serious violent crime.
In addition, youth crime stats are not held in the same manner that they are
Lawless and Disobedient Youth: The 17 and 18 Centuries
Information is sketchy.
Information indicates that concerns were expressed about youth as a
problem in the North American colonies as early as the late 17 century.
Reports described boys are lawless and disobedient, and girls as vain and
Majority of documented cases included crimes of: vandalism, pe