Criminology Essays - Canada’s Young offender Act

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Canada’s Young offender Act


Parliament of Canada passed an act in the year 1982, known as the Young offender Act. The act was enacted in the year 1984 and governed the criminal prosecution of the youths of Canada. The Young Offenders Act replaced the Juvenile Delinquents Act of the year 1908. The Juvenile Delinquents Act was passed by the government of Canada to improve its handling of juvenile crime. In the year 2003, the act was abolished with the passing of the new youth criminal justice act.

Canada’s Young offender Act

The Young Offender Act (YOA) tells about the law that applies to all young people between the ages of 12 to 17 in Canada who have been charged with any criminal offense (Paul, 2006). Canada’s Young Offenders Act constitutes a clear removal from its predecessor. The act mentions that the youths can only be accused if they break a law of the Criminal Code (Paul, 2006). The act also elucidates that most of children that come under the age of twelve are not held responsible for their committed crimes, whereas any one over the age of 18 is considered as adult and is tried according to the criminal code (Ann, 2006). The objective to protect the accountability for one’s criminal act is identified and recognized by the YOA (Paul, 2006).

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Prevention from community crimes

The Young Offender Act is good and important piece of legislation. It protects juveniles from those who can take advantage of them. It provides plenty of chances for their rehabilitation (Ann, 2006). Young Offender Act protects the innocent and helps to get back lost children. The children between 12-17 years make the unintentional crimes. Before the Young Offender Act was passed, the children were thrown into the same class of the criminals, where they use to learn unlawful activities from the criminals. With this, the children became more interested in crimes and after coming out, they used to commit the crime and their decision became intentional (Ann, 2006).

But with the help of YOA, the crimes in the community have been decreased. The act includes several provisions for the children (Biss, 2008). The act categorizes the children on the basis of age, maturity and severity of the crime done. The act provides more opportunities of reclamation, with less of the consequences that generally come hand in hand with the illegal activity. The act is too lenient with which the children learn the lawful activity (Biss, 2008).

Benefit to the Public

Prior to the Juvenile Delinquents Act in 1908, young offenders were treated like adults. They were held with adults while awaiting trial and received the same punishment as adults. In the Young Offender Act, a youth is not treated as a criminal, but as a misdirected and misguided child (Youth Criminal Justice Act: Changing the law on young criminals, 2008). According to the act, the youths are blamed for their criminal behavior. The punishment of the criminal was based on the rehabilitation as well as the judgment of judge. The Offender act makes young people more responsible. Victims have a very authentic role to plait under this act, which they do not have in the traditional judicial system (Young Offenders Act, 2008). By making the people aware of the impact of the actions of court one can reduce the level of crime as well as the long-term financial and social cost of imprisonment. Through YOA, the youths are protected from the adults that may take advantage of them.

Changes to make the law work better

The Young Offenders Act was an effort to establish a tighter legal framework by allowing charges on specific offences. Even though, it was criticized by the people. Some critics blamed that the act is too flexible for the criminal; it is lacking a clear philosophy on youth justice; the judgment was inconsistent and unfair; the act was not addressing the crimes properly, etc. (Youth Criminal Justice Act: Changing the law on young criminals, 2008).

To make the act or law better, it is suggested that the Canadian government should be strict with the criminal i.e. young offender. The punishment given to the offenders should be very strict so they never expect to do the crime even done unintentionally. The law should be such that the youths involved in any crime cannot manipulate the system to eradicate their past (Biss, 2008). It is important to look forward that the youth are being administered effectively by the courts and communities. The act should emphasize on the rehabilitation and re-entry of a young criminal into community.


Ann, L (2006) Canada’s Young Offender Act. Retrieved May 26, 2008 from

Biss, S.R. (2008).The Young Offender’s Act. Retrieved May 26, 2008 from

Paul, C. (2006). British Juvenile and Family Courts Society. Published by Waterside Press.

Young Offenders Act (2008). retrieved May 26, 2008 from

Youth Criminal Justice Act: Changing the law on young criminals (2008). Journal from CBC news online. Retrieved May 26, 2008 from

Youth Justice in Canada (2008). Retrieved May 26, 2008 from