New Survey Reveals Canadians Concerned About Youth Crime and Justice;

Fernie Youth Reaches Historic 50-Year Milestone of Working with Youths in the Justice System

TORONTO, March 27, 2014 /CNW/ - More than three-quarters of Canadians care about the overall impact of youth justice in Canada and more than half believe that crimes committed by youths – those 12 to 17 years of age -- are on the rise. These statistics were among the findings of a new national survey conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Fernie Youth to commemorate the organization's 50th anniversary of working with youth and their families as they negotiate the youth justice system.

The survey, conducted in December 2013, found that 77 per cent of Canadians cared about the impact of youth justice in Canada, with 48 per cent stating they strongly agreed. BC residents were the most concerned at 89 per cent, followed closely by Albertans with 88 per cent and Ontarians at 83 per cent. The gap between residents of Quebec and the rest of Canada was quite noticeable with just 58 per cent of Quebecers stating they were concerned with the impact of youth justice.  In addition, almost half of Quebecers – 44 per cent – also believed that most youth criminal activity is racially motivated or conducted by ethnic minorities, which is considerably higher than the rate of Canadians as a whole (29 per cent.) Overall, 55 per cent of Canadians believe that crime conducted by youth in Canada is on the rise.

"We found the survey information provided a very interesting snapshot of how Canadians are feeling about the committing of crimes by young people in Canada," said Patrick Reber, Executive Director of Fernie Youth, an independent, non-profit organization that provides residential and community services to youth and their families navigating the youth justice and mental health systems. "We've been working with youth in the system for 50 years, and we know that youth crime is actually down 15 per cent. But, this survey reveals that Canadians don't know or believe that."

The survey also revealed that more women than men believed that youth crime was on the rise -- 60 versus 49 per cent.

Almost half of Canadians, 45 per cent, agree that once a youth has committed a crime, he or she is on a path that leads to more serious crime.  However, this does not mean that Canadians wholeheartedly believe that once a youth has a criminal history they will continue to commit crimes as an adult; only 36 per cent of Canadians believe this. Quebecers were the exception though, with almost half -- 47 per cent – agreeing.

In general, Quebecers tended to be less optimistic about the current and future fate of youth involved in criminal activities, and almost double the number of Quebecers say they don't care about the overall impact of youth justice in Canada versus the national average (38 vs. 20 percent.)

"We were especially excited to hear that 80 per cent of Canadians believe that with proper guidance and access to resources, a youth who has committed a crime can turn their life around," said Reber. "Our belief at Fernie Youth is that you can completely turn your life around in just five years. This is what we strive to achieve each day with the young people we work with and we've seen it happen. It was also heartening to hear that 71 per cent of Canadians would help a youth who had been involved in criminal activities try to correct the life path they are on. What was interesting is that only 39 per cent of Canadians believe that there are plenty of resources for youth convicted of crime to access. What it says to us is that while Canadians think youth can turn their lives around with the proper resources, only just over one-third of Canadians believe youth actually have access to the required resources to make this happen."

Other facts from the survey include:

  • Only three in 10 Canadians (29 per cent) agree that most youth criminal activity is racially motivated or conducted by ethnic minorities; this number increases to 39 per cent of Canadians with a high school or less education and 41 per cent of single person Canadian households.
  • 56 per cent of Canadians say they would know what to do if their child or grandchild were arrested; in particular, Canadian men, older Canadians and those with higher household incomes are more inclined to say they know what to do; but this still means that almost half of all Canadians would not know what to do if their child or grandchild were arrested.
  • 40 per cent of Canadians are concerned about youth crime in their neighbourhood although this number increases amongst homemakers and those with household incomes below $40,000 a year and in the $80,000-100,000 income bracket.
  • Canadian men are slightly more willing than women to help youth involved in criminal activities (74 vs. 67 per cent), as are Canadians aged 45-54 (78 per cent).

About the survey
The Youth Crime Survey was conducted by Nielsen via telephone between December 5 and December 10, 2013, with a national random sample of 1,032 adult Canadians aged 18 years and over. The data have been weighted by age and gender within region and is considered accurate to within ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

About Us
Fernie Youth is an independent, non-profit organization that provides residential and community services to youth and their families. Since 1964, we have worked with countless families to help them as they navigate the youth justice and mental health systems. In 2014, we are celebrating 50 years of helping youth find their way to becoming responsible adults.

SOURCE Fernie Youth

For further information: Diana Degan, Diana Degan & Associates, 519-829-3804, 416-871-5420, dianadeganassociates@rogers.com