Teaching Youth Justice

Lesson 2.1: The Police and the YCJA

This lesson explores police discretion. Student understandings of the options available to the police when dealing with a youth in conflict with the law will be reinforced. As well, students will be introduced to some police-developed programs that help accomplish the principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

1. Have students create a list of tasks performed by the police. This could include the specific functions required by the YCJA (outlined in Section 1), contributions to the community, and their roles in investigating crime and patrolling the streets.

2. Ask each student to consider the list of police tasks. Have them order tasks by level of importance. Their lists will be returned to a little later.

3. To illustrate some of the work that police do in crime prevention and rehabilitation, distribute Police and the YCJA. Have students read it and then complete discussion questions.

4. In addition to Procedure 3 above, teachers may wish to break students into small research groups to specifically review the work highlighted by the National Youth Justice Policing Award. Each group should focus on a particular program and report back to the class on it.

5. Return to the police task list made at the beginning of the lesson. Now that students know more about the work that police do in crime prevention and rehabilitation, they should reconsider the list and its order of importance. Ask students to make any changes that they feel are required.

  • Can you single out one task as the most important? Why or why not?
  • Have your choices changed from the beginning of this lesson? If so, how?

Police and the YCJA