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Chapter 3

Sociology 2267A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Motor Vehicle Theft, Juvenile Delinquency, Human Resources Development Canada


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 2267A/B
Professor
Lisa Lyons
Chapter
3

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Chapter 3
The “Facts” of Youth Crime
Introduction
JDA applied to ages 7-17 in Quebec and 7-15 in ON and NS
“Young offender” in YOA 1984 did not apply to 16 and 17 year olds, changed in 1986
o1984 and 1985, only youths aged 2-15
Measuring Youth Crime
Social-control agencies- usually government agencies mandated to perform various
functions in the justice system, such as police, courts, and corrections
Information on youth crime comes from surveys and field research
oTwo most common surveys: victimization and self-report
Criminal Activity Source of information
Actual crime None
Voluntary admission of crime Self-report survey
Detected crime Victimization survey
Known About and Cleared Crime
Reported, recorded, arrested Police statistics
Convicted crime Court records
Offenders serving terms Corrections agencies
Sources and What They Tell Us About Youth Crime
The Media
What appear to be crime waves are more accurately described as “media waves”
In the mid-1990s, Canadians were increasingly becoming concerned about crime, and
violent crime in particular
o4 out of 10 Canadians rated juvenile delinquency as a “very serious problem”
Opinion poll in June 1995 reported that 69% strongly or moderately supported capital
punishment
oFigured released by Stats Can in 1998 showed decline in youth crime rate
Police Statistics
Crimes “cleared by the police” refer to crimes for which police are satisfied they have a
suspect and are prepared to process the case
Prior to 2003, standardized statistics on police apprehensions and charges were not
publicly available
Since the introduction of the YCJA, the proportion of youth formally charged by police
has consistently declined
o*In 2012, 44% of apprehended youth were charged by police
Individual police departments produce the majority of statistics on criminal activity in
Canada
Record keeping is limited to 132 Criminal Code offense categories and several drug and
traffic offenses
Early 1960s: police data standardized by Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR)
oAggregated- statistics on crime and other social behavior are deemed aggregated
when they are grouped into categories that make it impossible to match
individuals on other characteristics
Recently, youth crime rates are reported in the same manner as adult crime rates- the
charge-cleared distinction is no longer publicly on a yearly basis

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New categories have been added to the UCR record keeping, such as gang-related
offenses, criminal harassment, and uttering threats
Crime Severity Index (CSI) was also added
With the exception of increases in 2000-2001 and 2007, youth Criminal Code offenses
have been on the decline since 1992
The most dramatic decline took place in the first few years of the YCJA
21% decline during 2003-2004 likely due to the 2003 formalization of extra-judicial
measures on the YCJA
2002 (one year prior to YCJA) saw the lowest number of charges since 1986, when the
YOA was fully implemented
Rate of youth cleared otherwise remained fairly consistent throughout the period of YOA
and actually began its rise in 2000
The rate of youth charged with violent offenses consistently increased until 1995 before
showing a declining, leveling, and then beginning to increase with YCJA
2008- of 71,000 youth charged with Criminal Code offenses, 33% were violent, 32%
were property, and 35% were other Criminal Code offenses
2012- slightly less than ½ of youth accused (44%) were formally charged
About ¾ of young people charged with violent crimes have been involved in minor
assault incidents (pushing/shoving), not resulting in physical injury
Homicide is consistently low for youth since the introduction of the YOA
Overall youth crime half of 1986, but violent crime has doubled
THE CSI for youth crime rose for 5 years after the introduction of YCJA
Since 10 years ago, police stats also indicate youth violent crime rate has declined by
14% and the CSI has declined by about 5%
Court Statistics
Court stats are kept by individual courts and yield smaller numbers than police
Value is providing information about offenders, their offenses, and sentences
Youth court records are not accessible to the public in every province, but basic data are
sent to Ottawa and compiled for public distribution by Stats Canada
Youth Court Survey- published on a yearly basis for the entire country and for individual
provinces
Court stats see similar patterns to those evident in police stats
YCJA is accomplishing goal to keep less serious offenses out of court, but high
administrative offences continue
oAdministrative charges- charges laid for behaviors that are not generally
considered to be criminal (e.g. failure to appear in court)
Major weakness with youth crime stats: not all provinces included every year
oOnly measures cases going to court, not a fair measure of criminal activity
More useful as measure of youth justice than of youth crime
Self-Report Surveys
Originated with a sociologist named Porterfield, who experimented with them at Texas
Christian University in the 1940s
Official records tend to underrepresent offenses of middle-class youth
Official records typically present young offenders as poor, working class and visible
minorities
Mid 1990s- Stats Can and Human Resources Development Canada began a joint project
to collect longitudinal data on children and youth—the National Longitudinal Survey of
Children and Youth (NLSCY)
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oBegan in 1994-1995, project began collecting information on a sample of 22,000
children up to age 11; continue to be interviewed every 2 years under they reach
age 25
o30% of girls reported involvement in delinquency of a property of aggressive
nature, 40% of boys reported involvement in property-related delinquency and
66% in aggressive behaviors
Only 11 to 13 year olds at this point
In 2006, Canada conducted its first International Youth Survey (IYS) on self-reported
delinquency as part of the International Self-reported Delinquency Study (conducted in
30 countries)
oAsks questions to grades 7-9 in Toronto about involvement in violent behaviors,
property and drug offences, and information on family and socio-economic
factors
Self-report measures of delinquency result in estimates that range from 4-10 times the
amount reported in official statistics
American study- 88% of 13-16 year olds admitting to participating in at least one
delinquent act during the 3 years prior to the study
oLess than 3^ had been detected by police
Stephen Baron surveyed 200 male street youth, all under age of 24, about their illegal
behavior over a 12-month period (most did not have fixed address)
oReported 335,000 crimes, an average of 1,700 per respondent
oDrug offenses are responsible for 72% of reported crime
oOnly 5% were violent crime, 20% property crime
oArgues that crimes of homeless youth are directly related to the adversity of
living on the streets
Victimization Surveys
U.S. government collects victimization data on an annual basis from a sample of the
population; first national survey conducted in 1966
Since 1966, have become the primary method of gaining information about the volume of
specific types of crime and delinquency
First Canadian victimization survey conducted by Ministry of the Solicitor General and
Statistics Canada in the early 1980s- Canadian Urban Victimization Survey (CUVS)
oGathered data form 61,000 Canadians 16 and older
Federal government’s General Social Survey (GSS)
oBegan in 1988 and undertaken every 5 years
oA sample of more than 10,000 Canadians over age of 15 are asked questions; in
1999, questions on spousal violence were added, and in 2009 questions about
cyber-bullying as well
Comparisons between the five GSS survey periods show a relatively flat trend with
respect to the victimization rate (24-28%)
About 34% of GSS respondents reported their victimization to police
oYoung people between 15-24 are less likely than older people
oCyber-bullying rarely reported to police but more likely to be reported when
children are the children than adults (14% vs. 7%)
Clearance rates- refers to statistics that indicate the rate at which police process criminal
incidents as charged offenses
oComparison of victimization survey results with police clearance rates generally
shows that reporting and clearance rates for crimes against persons are very
different from property crimes
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