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Trends in the Seriousness of Youth Crime in Canada, 1984-2011

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 55 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2013 Pages: 293-314
Peter Carrington
Date Published
April 2013
22 pages
This article analyzes changes in the seriousness of youth crime in Canada for the period 1984 through 2011.
Trends in the seriousness of youth crime in Canada from 1984 to 2011 are assessed by analyzing changes over time in the mix of offenses for which young people have been reported by police as chargeable. Four indicators of seriousness are used: Statistics Canada crime seriousness weights, the proportion of youth accused of an indictable offense, a fivefold classification of offenses, and a selection of high volume offenses. All four analyses clearly indicate a substantial downward trend over the period in the overall seriousness of police-reported youth crime. The decline in seriousness is mainly due to a very large decrease in the proportion of youth accused of the serious offense of break and enter and a correspondingly large increase in the proportion accused of the minor offenses of common assault, cannabis possession, and offenses against the administration of justice. The proportion of chargeable youth accused of major offenses against the person has increased substantially relative to its level in 1984, but it remains low compared to property and other offenders. Thus, reported youth crime in Canada has become proportionally more violent but less serious overall. (Published Abstract)