The May 1996 resolution is:

Resolved that s. 1 of the Young Offenders Act be repealed and replaced by:

1. This Act may be cited as the Young Persons Criminal Code.


The Young Offenders Act only uses the terminology "young offender" in its title. Other sections refer to "young person". "Young offender" is a pejorative expression which connotes guilt. Adults in the adult system are referred to as the "accused" and are not referred to as the "adult offender" or the "criminal". I have observed police officers, Crown attorneys, defence lawyers, and judges refer to young persons as "young offenders" or "y.o.'s" before they are found guilty. I believe this practice and s. 1 of the Young Offenders Act violate the spirit if not the letter of s. 11(d) and s. 15 of the Charter of Rights. The practice of referring to young persons as "young offenders" does not encourage adolescents to take responsibility for their own actions.

Research Tip:

1. Attend a Youth Court in your own jurisdiction and observe how judges, clerks, police officers, and lawyers refer to young persons. Interview the players and find out why they use that terminology.

2. Research juvenile court legislation in the United States and Great Britain. How do their statutes and participants refer to young persons?

3. Interview a judge or lawyer to find out what would happen in adult court:

a) if a person's previous criminal record were revealed to a judge or jury prior to a finding of guilt, and

b) if a Crown attorney or judge referred to the accused as a "criminal" or an "offender" prior to a finding of guilt.