Victims and Youth Justice

Assignment

These ideas will help you explore the YCJA in depth. You can complete the activities for a classroom assignment.

1. Read the following two scenarios and decide:

  • How the victim would feel after the crime was committed
  • What the offender could do to right the wrong

Melissa’s Driving

Melissa, 16, has been angry with her parents for weeks because they wouldn't sign the forms to allow her to get a learner's licence. Her parents told Melissa that there had been too many times in the last two years when she had shown very bad judgement. They were worried about her safety and the safety of others if she were allowed to drive. Melissa's parents were out for the evening and Melissa had her friend, Beth, sleep over.

Melissa convinced Beth that she could drive them to the convenience store to buy snacks and then to the video store to rent a video. About four blocks from the convenience store, Melissa lost control of the car.

She drove up and over the curb and crashed into a mailbox and a bus bench. The bus bench and the mailbox were destroyed.

Vinh’s Work

Vinh, 15, has been in trouble with the law several times for minor offences, mostly shoplifting and possession of drugs. A friend of his father's had agreed to give Vinh a job at a hardware store working on Thursday and Friday nights and on Saturdays. The first month went well. Then the owner began to notice that the sales registered on the detail tape of the cash register were not equal to the cash in the drawer. The till was often short of money at the end of Vinh’s shifts - sometimes only $25 but sometimes as much as $60. It was not normal for the store to be out more that $10 at the end of a day. The owner confronted Vinh and there was a heated argument.

Vinh eventually admitted that he has stolen the money. He shouted at the owner, "What did you expect? You knew I was a bad kid!"

2. Read the scenario below and complete the activities which follow:

Road Menace

Over the last two years, James has been charged and found guilty of auto theft, break and enter, and three counts of theft under $5000.00. He turns 16 years old tomorrow and to celebrate, one of his friends steals some compact discs from an auto, which James accepts as a birthday present. The two boys also steal a pick-up truck. James crashes the truck into a convenience store while being chased by the police. He is charged with theft over $5000.00 and mischief.

  1. Pretend you are the mother or father of James. It is apparent that your son is having problems staying out of trouble with the law. List 5 things you could do as a parent to keep James out of trouble, and explain why you think those things will help.
  2. Pretend you are a good friend of James. You have rarely been in trouble with the law and you have lots in common. Before James gets in more serious trouble with the law, what things could you do as a friend to help James?
  3. Pretend you are the owner of the truck that was stolen and damaged. Describe how you would feel and why.

3. Read the following scenario and do the activity following:

Nelson in Trouble Again

Nelson is 17 years old. He has often been in trouble with the law. Once he stole a car. While he was driving, he had an accident. The car hit a tree. Nelson ran away but the police caught him. Another time he broke into some houses. Nelson does not live at home. He usually lives on the street. He takes drugs. For a short time he lived in a special home for youth. While he was there, he used drugs. He had to leave the home.

Nelson was supposed to go to court but he didn’t. The court ordered him to do volunteer work in the community but Nelson didn’t do it. A month ago he broke into a store. He smashed the large front window of the store and ran off with several TVs, which were damaged when the police finally managed to stop the pick up truck that he used to leave the scene of the crime. Nelson was charged with and convicted of break and enter and theft over $5000.00.

  1. What do you think the impact of this crime was on the owner of the store? Think about the store owner’s feelings, the effect on his family or customers and the financial loss suffered.
  2. What type of consideration would you give to the victim impact statement of the owner in this case? How would it affect your sentence if you were the judge?

4. Personal Incident

Remember a time when something happened to you that you felt was unfair. Perhaps someone hurt you or took something from you and that person did not receive any punishment. Or perhaps your parents or someone your family knows experienced a break and enter at their home or the theft of a car. Try to recall where you were at the time, who was involved, what was said and the details of the incident. The more detailed your memory is, the more readily you will be able to relate to the impact of crime on victims in general.

Think about the various emotions that victims may experience: anger, sadness, fear and worry.

Write a report about what penalties or consequences could have been imposed to make you feel like the wrong had been addressed. Consider consequences such as payment for an item, replacement of an item, a letter of apology, time spent repairing something, or time spent rendering a service.