Blog

An excerpt from Policy Options on Canada’s crossover youth:

…Unfortunately, many Canadian youth involved in the child protection system tend to end up in the criminal justice system at one point or another. Findings from a 2009 report by the BC Representative for Children and Youth paint a grim picture: It was more likely for youth in care to end up in the youth justice system (36 per cent) than to graduate high school (26 percent).

This was in stark contrast to youth in the general population, who were far less likely to be recommended for charges by the police (six percent) than youth in care (41 per cent). The report also noted that youth in care in BC had a one in six chance of being detained or sentenced to custody, compared to a one in 50 chance for youth who were not in care. The rates of incarceration are even higher for minority youth; African-Canadian youth are overrepresented by more than 300 percent while Indigenous youth are overrepresented by over 500 percent compared to their representation in the general population.

Referred to in the research community as “crossover youth,” their involvement of these young adults in both the child protection and criminal justice systems is often the result of ongoing trauma that goes untreated, of multiple placements, of zero-tolerance policies in group homes and of various government ministry silos that allow troubled youth to fall between the cracks. The child protection system also tends to criminalize youth who exhibit behavioural problems, which has been highlighted in multiple reports.

Read the entire article in policy options here.