Teaching Youth Justice

Lesson 1.2: Youth Justice: Considerations

This lesson is intended to generate discussion about the concept of laws and justice. It provides scenarios where formal involvement of the justice system may be required to resolve problems.

Teacher’s Background Information: Sentencing
The Criminal Code outlines the possible sentences when an adult is convicted of a crime. Each incident outlined in this lesson includes the applicable area of the Criminal Code and the adult sentencing provisions. Because the penalties listed are the maximum for adult offenders, they are not necessarily what the actual punishment would be. Further, because police are able to exercise some discretion when they encounter criminal activity, sometimes criminal charges can be circumvented entirely.

Youth found guilty of criminal offences are sentenced in accordance with the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. (These provisions will be dealt with in more detail in Lesson 1.3.) Under the YCJA, custodial sentences are reserved mainly for youth who commit violent or repeat offences. Other youth sentencing options include a reprimand, compensating the victim, community service, or a fine.

1. Ask students why it is important to consider all perspectives surrounding any conflict.

2. Break students into groups to examine incidents in “But I was just having a little fun.” Ensure that when looking at discussion questions, students consider the scenarios from two different points of view: that of the person doing the act, and that of the victim of the act.

3. Regroup to discuss answers as a group. For each incident, ask:

  • Do you think the conduct infringes on any values that society holds important? If so, which ones?
  • Do you think the conduct is criminal? If so, what type of sentence should be given? (Explaining the concepts of sentencing outlined in the Teacher’s Background Information will be helpful for this question.)
  • Why is it important that authorities—from police to Judges—have some discretion when doling out consequences?

"But I was just having a little fun"


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