Do not throw out baby with bathwater

To The Editor – Do not throw out baby with bathwater

Re: Deal more harshly with young offenders-July 31

In regards to the reader’s letter (below), I was hoping to dispel some commonly held myths regarding the new Youth Criminal Justice Act. For one, there are certainly enough critics of the ACT from all sides of the political spectrum – it’s certainly not a panacea. But it’s also a case of the baby and the bathwater. Some things work better under the new act.

The author stated that ‘since its inception [The ACT] has failed miserably in curbing the misbehaviour of our youth.’  The fact is, that prior to the new act, Canada had one of the harshest young offender systems in the western world. The Canadian Judicial system incarcerates its youth at 10 times the rate we do our adult population and twice the rate of American young offenders. Nevertheless, 43 per cent of young offenders will be charged again within one-year of their first conviction. The system doesn’t work.

The Canadian justice system is an adversarial process focused on guilt, innocence and conviction; but not interested in determining a sentence, changing behaviour or allowing the victims of crime a voice.

What we have found is that most justice insiders (police, courts, judges, Crown attorneys) are supportive of the ACT’s provisions that let community programs effectively deal with the 95 per cent of young offenders that have simply made bad choices. For them this makes most youth face a more accountable community sentence (complete with victim restitution, a shaming process, and often coaching and mentoring) than the “slap on the wrist” the court system will inevitably give them.

It also frees up the court’s resources to deal with the bad kids who are properly in the justice system, because of the nature of their crimes. And that’s not a bad thing. Trust me.


Terance Brouse

Community Relations,

PACT Youth Crime Reduction Program

Deal more harshly with young offenders
Cobourg Daily Star
Thu 31 Jul 2003
Page: 4
Section: Editorial/Comment

Source: The Daily Star

To The Editor:

Re: Young Offenders Act

Much has been said lately regarding the Young Offender Act, some for and some against.

I would like to hazard a guess that since its inception it has failed miserably in curbing the misbehaviour of our youth. In fact, it has given them the freedom to do what they want with no accountability to anyone, not even their parents, and unfortunately, makes it almost impossible to properly discipline them.

Let’s get back to naming who these offenders are. Make their names public and soon you would see a change in attitude, through embarrassment and shame, particularly on the part of the parents who are in the best position to discipline the children. By the same token, our courts and police need to be supported and not second-guessed by their efforts to uphold the law.

Furthermore, the parents or guardians of these young offenders in some cases also need to be held accountable for the behaviours of their children.

Let’s get back to the basics. Remember: “Spare the rod, Spoil the child.”

Edition: Final
Story Type: Letter
Length: 182 words