The Great Youth Criminal Justice Act Debate

June 2003

Resolved that: 

It should be lawful for students to pre-emptively assault bullies if school authorities fail to act to remove the threat.

Should a student who believes he or she may be bullied at school  bring weapons to school to pre-emptively attack a reputed bully to eliminate the possible threat that the bully may use weapons dangerous to the public? Should students use force to disarm other students?

When is force justified in Canadian law? See Criminal Code of Canada section 27:

27. Every one is justified in using as much force as is reasonably necessary

(a) to prevent the commission of an offence

(i) for which, if it were committed, the person who committed it might be arrested without warrant, and

(ii) that would be likely to cause immediate and serious injury to the person or property of anyone; or

(b) to prevent anything being done that, on reasonable grounds, he believes would, if it were done, be an offence mentioned in paragraph (a).

See also the self-defence provisions of the Criminal Code:

34. (1) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.

(2) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted and who causes death or grievous bodily harm in repelling the assault is justified if

(a) he causes it under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence with which the assault was originally made or with which the assailant pursues his purposes; and

(b) he believes, on reasonable grounds, that he cannot otherwise preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 34; 1992, c. 1, s. 60(F).

35. Every one who has without justification assaulted another but did not commence the assault with intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or has without justification provoked an assault on himself by another, may justify the use of force subsequent to the assault if

(a) he uses the force

(i) under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence of the person whom he has assaulted or provoked, and

(ii) in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary in order to preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm;

(b) he did not, at any time before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose, endeavour to cause death or grievous bodily harm; and

(c) he declined further conflict and quitted or retreated from it as far as it was feasible to do so before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 35.

36. Provocation includes, for the purposes of sections 34 and 35, provocation by blows, words or gestures.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 36.

37. (1) Every one is justified in using force to defend himself or any one under his protection from assault, if he uses no more force than is necessary to prevent the assault or the repetition of it.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to justify the wilful infliction of any hurt or mischief that is excessive, having regard to the nature of the assault that the force used was intended to prevent.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 37.


Who decides if the authorities are incompetent to protect the whole student population?

What is the difference between self-defence and a pre-emptive strike?

Should bullies be eliminated by "good" students? Should "good" students take the law into their own hands if diplomatic approaches take too long or are perceived inadequate by the "good" students and the "good" students perceive the threat as serious?

Is there anything wrong with such a school? 

20 March 2003


Does it depend on whether or not the "good" student is the richest, most influential, and has the most powerful weapons? As long as you're the "good" guy can you break the law?

27 March 2003


In a time when school administration and guidance are limited in resources due to lack of funding, is it time for students to uphold justice themselves? Should students act unilaterally? Is this not the way adults now deal with similar situations? Isn't this what we learn in film, TV, provincial politics, and international politics? Aren't rules of law like Magna Carta, the United Nations Charter, and tradition in Parliament irrelevant in an expedient society?

Belfast PEI
05 April 2003


I definitely believe that a student should defend him/herself from an attack using any means possible, including lethal force. Since it isn't a good idea to carry weapons, more young people should learn martial arts such as tae kwon do, judo, kickboxing and aikido.

06 May 2003


In this deal of the "good" students, we need to describe what are "good" students like the Mississauga person said. If the process of bullying continues for too long the students should take actions into there own hands. We also need to see what are the "bullies?" because what if the "good" kids are the "bullies"? We can't see everyone at the same time so how do we know if the "good" kids aren't the bullies and the "bullies" aren't the good kids. We have to look at all aspects of this. We will never be able to stop bullying completely but we should still try but teachers and the police or authority take the wrong actions. way wrong actions. They are also one minded because they blame us teenagers for everything we do and think we are all dope addicts and do not try to do the best to defend out "RIGHTS". we have rights too. why dont you so called "authority" so something about our rights and try to protect them. We know you don't do enough and we try to talk up but the authority never listens because we are just teenagers. We know lots and probably more than you authority. You don't give us a chance. You are the future generation. If you treat us like shit, we will treat you like shit when we are in your ages. and hopefully we don't forget what its like to be teenagers like most authority out there. Thank you. i am a 17 year old student that attends High School in Devon. i know about the things that go on.

Edmonton Alberta
28 May 2003


I believe that youth should be allowed to act pre-emptively against bullies. "If" there is a past history of bullying. I also believe that it is wrong for some schools (like mine) to suspend or expel all students found fighting. without making any exceptions for bullying or assault. that would mean that one student who doesn't care if they are expelled attacks another who needs to stay in school should they both be punished because the second fights back. should they really have to just stand there and take it just to avoid trouble. personally I think that's the fastest way to get yourself killed.

02 June 2003


What would happen to u if u are cut fighting someone? what should the person that is being bullied do?

Revised: 03 Dec 2018 15:44:18 -0500 .


List of Young Offenders Debates



Copyright 2018 Stephen Biss



Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor

470 Hensall Circle, Suite 303
Mississauga, Ontario
L5A 3V4

905-273-3322  or 1-877-273-3322


Advertisement. Any legal opinions expressed at this site relate to the Province of Ontario, Canada only. If you reside or carry on business in any other jurisdiction please consult a lawyer, solicitor, or attorney in your own jurisdiction. WARNING: All information contained herein is provided for the purpose of providing basic information only and should not be construed as formal legal advice. The author disclaims any and all liability resulting from reliance upon such information. You are strongly encouraged to seek and retain professional legal advice before relying upon any of the information contained herein.