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Youth Crime In Canada Essay

3130 words - 13 pages

Few social issues get as much media attention as youth crime. Statistics Canada reported a 3% increase in crimes committed by 12- to 17-yearolds between 2005 and 2006. In the last 15 years, the rate of violent crimes among young people has increased by 30% (Youth crime, 2008). From gangland-style killings in Vancouver to the senseless beating of an elderly woman in Hali-fax, Canadian cities are struggling with a wave of youth crime that was unimaginable a couple of decades ago. According to Statistics Canada, most Canadians believe that youth crime is on the rise and 77% believe that the sentencing of young offenders is too lenient (Youth crime, 2005). Many experts attribute the spike in youth crime to the increased number of street gangs - often the perpetrators of youth crime (Catalano and Hawkins, 1996). Research indicates that youth seek comfort from those who welcome them and reinforce their sense of belonging. Unfortunate-ly, some youth have no choice but to turn to street gangs in order to satisfy their need for approv-al, belonging and self-worth (Clark, 1992). Street gangs are not just issues in big cities. Over the last few decades, there has been an increase in the presence of street gangs in non-metropolitan and rural communities. For example, in 1960, there were 54 cities in the United States with a gang population. In 1995, there were street gangs in approximately 800 cities and towns across the United States (Swetnam and Pope, 2001). There is no consensus among experts on how to reduce youth crime. Criminal involvement usually starts before the age of 15, with first-time of-fences declining markedly once young people reach 20 years of age. Young people who become involved in criminal activities before the age of 14 tend to be the most persistent offenders, with long criminal records (Joseph, 1996). Organized sport is being used throughout the world to curb political extremism and to facilitate peace. In 2007, for example, the United Nations established a “Global Sport Fund” with a $10 million donation from the country of Qatar to engage youth from different parts of the world, particularly those in conflict regions, in sport. Sheikh Saud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Secretary-General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, stated that “the Sport Fund targets young people at the age when the temptation to experiment with illegal drugs is high. The main purpose is to promote sports activity among young people and to prevent
drug use and crime worldwide”(UNODC, 2007). With more than 1.2 billion 15- to 24-year-olds in the world, the United Nations realized that youth sport represents one of the most dynamic mechanisms in society for transforming dangerous and violent conflict situations because orga-nized sport can engage youth of all races, genders and classes (United Nations, 2005). Daniel Tarschys, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, stated in 1995 that “the hidden face of sport is also the tens of thousands of enthusiasts who...

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