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This Essay Discusses The Origin Of The Young Offenders Act And Compares It With The Juvenille Delinquents Act, Which Was The First Version Of The Modern Young Offenders Act. (Canada)

2218 words - 9 pages

The Young Offenders ActCanadian society, like many others, has fought to ensure that the youth of the nation are protected and brought up to be meaningful members of the country. Despite these efforts, there is still a population of young people in Canada that fall into some sort of criminal behaviour. The types of offences vary, as well as the seriousness, but crime is still crime, and in Canada, criminals face certain consequences. In an attempt to deal with the youths that belong in this category, Canada put into place the Young Offenders Act; a statute that holds youths aged twelve to seventeen responsible for their actions. This Act is intended, like the adult criminal justice system, to punish the guilty, protect society, and deter future criminal behaviour from occurring.The Young Offenders Act did not actually come into effect until 1984, two years after it was originally passed. The Act replaced the only other law regarding youth crime that had existed in Canada, that of the Juvenile Delinquents Act. The Juvenile Delinquents Act originated in 1908, when it was first deemed necessary for children who were believed to be guilty of a crime to be treated differently than adult offenders. Before this, children between the ages of seven and fourteen would go through the same process as an adult when they were shown to be guilty. Prior to the Juvenile Delinquents Act, it was in 1892 that the Canadian Criminal Code first acknowledged that provisions needed to be in place to deal with young offenders. Once the Young Offenders Act was put into action to replace the Juvenile Delinquents Act, the main goal turned more towards rehabilitating the young offender, and placing more responsibility on the mature members of society, specifically parents and guardians, to watch over children and teach them the proper values that would hopefully show that committing crimes is wrong.There was a great deal of controversy and criticism that built up about the Juvenile Delinquents Act beginning at its conception in 1908. Under this Act, children were viewed as innocents, and were not held liable for their criminal actions, which changed to a certain degree following the integration of the Young Offenders Act. The Juvenile Delinquents Act was also criticized because, although it was intended to represent the best interests of adolescents, minimal attention was actually given to young offenders' rights. "Advocates of children's rights increasingly criticized the wide-sweeping and rather arbitrary powers given to juvenile courts under the Juvenile Delinquents Act." In addition to these problems that many felt accompanied the Juvenile Delinquents Act, there were many who spoke out against the naivety of the Act, arguing that adolescents were growing ever more intelligent, and were committing more sophisticated crimes. Critics of the Act expressed the opinion that all citizens deserved protection from all criminals, regardless of their age, and young offenders needed...

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