The June 1996 resolution is:

Resolved that the definition of "young person" in s. 2(1) of the Young Offenders Act be repealed and replaced by:

"young person"«adolescent»

"young person" means a person who is or, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, appears to be ten years of age or more, but under eighteen years of age and, where the context requires, includes any person who is charged under this Act with having committed an offence while he was a young person or is found guilty of an offence under this Act;

 

Background:

It is alleged that on May 3, 1996 an 11 year old boy in Toronto raped a 13 year old girl. During investigation, the boy reportedly bragged to the police officer that he was immune from prosecution because he was under twelve years of age. Some politicians and others have proposed that the minimum age for prosecution be lowered from twelve to ten.

Research Tips:

1. Attend a Youth Court in your own jurisdiction and observe how many twelve and thirteen year olds are being prosecuted. Is there a serious problem with youth crime among 10, 11, 12, and 13 year olds? Interview the judges, clerks, police officers, and lawyers to determine the frequency of criminal activity for each age group and why.

2. Research juvenile crime statistics in the United States and Great Britain. How many 10 and 11 year olds are prosecuted in their jurisdictions?

3. Interview a Family Court judge or child protection/youth worker to find out what would happen in child protection court (eg. under the Child and Family Services Act in Ontario):

a) if a child age 11 committed a serious criminal offence,

b) if it was determined that the child needed treatment, and

c) if a child age 11 sought to escape from his or her child welfare placement.

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Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor

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