Creating Positive Alternatives For Canadian Youth

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					 Creating Positive
 For Canadian Youth

FALL 2008

98% of youth feel safe
in their Boys and Girls Club.
                                                                                               why now?

  Youth are more likely to be victims of violent crimes: in 2004, the
  chances of being a victim of crime was highest among people aged
  15 to 24. The risk steadily declined as age increased. Young people
  are 1.5 times more likely to be victims of crime than people aged
  24 to 34 and 19 times more likely than seniors aged 65 and older.

• More than 70 per cent of those
QUICK FACTS                                      parental supervision; alcohol and drug                   • The presence of a positive role model
  [Canadians] who enter federal prisons          abuse; poor educational or employment                      to supervise and guide a child’s
  are high-school dropouts; 70 per cent          opportunity; and a need for recognition                    behaviour is a key protective factor
  have unstable job histories; four out          and belonging. 5                                           against violence.11
  of every fi ve have substance-abuse           • An ‘unstable job record’ at the age of 18                • Compared to other measures of crime
  problems when they are convicted;              is linked to continuing involvement with                   control, crime prevention through social
  and two out of three youth in the              crime from ages 21 to 24. Difficulties                      development is cost-effective. One
  criminal justice system have been              in finding employment or succeeding                         study found that it cost tax-payers
  diagnosed with two or more mental              in the workplace can be a blow on one’s                    seven times more to achieve a 10%
  health problems. 2                             self-esteem and can lead vulnerable                        reduction in crime through incarceration,
• In 2002, those aged 15 – 24 represented        people to look elsewhere for sources                       rather than through social development.12
  13% of the total population while              of income. 6                                             • Stats Canada 2003 estimates crime cost
  accounting for 46% of those charged          • Youth at risk of joining gangs or already                  Canadians $59 billion each year.13 It is
  with property crimes and 31% of                involved in gangs tend to be from groups                   estimated that a criminal career which
  persons charged with violent crimes.           that suffer from the greatest levels                       begins in adolescence costs society
  In particular, those between 15 and            of inequality and social disadvantage.7                    2 million dollars.14
  18 years were in the highest risk group
  for committing both violent and              • Youth gangs are active across Canada                     • It costs, on average, $95,826.37 to
  property crimes. 3                             in both large and small communities.                       imprison a young person for a year.
                                                 Canada has 434 young gangs with                            That money could be used to fund a full
• Research undertaken in the United              roughly 7,000 members nationally                           years’ worth of recreational activities
  States (between 1991-96) indicates             with Ontario having the highest                            and equipment for almost 50 youth.
  that violent crimes perpetrated by             number in absolute terms, followed                         Recreation provides opportunities for
  juveniles peak in the after school period.     by Saskatchewan, followed by                               youth to form supportive relationships,
  Similarly, juveniles are at highest risk       British Columbia. 8                                        build self-esteem and develop valuable
  of being a victim of violent crime in the                                                                 skills; all benefi ts that help reduce their
  same period. 4                               • Researchers now conclude that social
                                                 interventions can yield positive,                          risk of becoming involved in crime.15
• Long-term studies of adolescents in            measurable benefi ts within 3 years,
  Canadian and American cities suggest           with reductions in crime of 25 – 50%
  that the most important risk factors           within 10 years. 9
  for gang involvement include: negative
  influences in the youth’s life; limited       • The younger participants are when your
  attachment to the community; over-             effort begins, the better your chances
  reliance on anti-social peers; poor            of successfully preventing aggressive
                                                 attitudes and behaviours.10

                                                                   Creating Positive Alternatives For Canadian Youth Strategies to Address the Roots of Youth Violence   1
                                                  There is strong evidence to show that the “get tougher” movement
                                                  and legislative changes in Canada have placed an emphasis on severe
                                                  responses to crime and incarceration as a solution, but in fact that
                                                  this does not reduce youth crime – what does is developing effective
                                                  prevention programs for children and adolescents.

“One of the riskiest times for                    Mobilizing Our Assets to Tackle Youth Violence
 many adolescents in terms
                                                  We know that youth violence is a complex phenomenon caused by multiple factors. We
 of being victimized or running
 afoul of the law is between the                  understand that no single strategy will suffice to prevent it. Addressing the roots of youth
 hours of 3:00 and 7:00 p.m.,                     violence will require comprehensive and coordinated action by a range of stakeholders.
 between the end of the school                    Creating the conditions for youth to experience success, meaningful activities, positive role
 day and when parents return
                                                  models, and viable educational and employment opportunities should have a prominent place
 home from work.
                                                  in Canada’s crime control strategy. Our collaborative efforts need to focus on prevention, early
Research shows that this                          intervention, and supportive services.
unsupervised time is a risk
factor for substance abuse,                       Individuals, families and their broader communities all have a central role to play. Government
gang behaviour and other                          leadership is also essential. Policies and investments that intentionally sustain and help to
juvenile delinquency.                             coordinate our various violence prevention efforts are critical.
Supervised, high-quality,                         The Canadian Council on Social Development, Canadian Public Health Association, National
challenging after-school
programs have been shown to
                                                  Crime Prevention Council of Canada, Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and the
be an effective buffer against                    Federation of Canadian Municipalities have all adopted official policy statements stressing
delinquency and victimizations                    the importance of enhancing the well-being of children, youth and families and providing
and to benefit children greatly                    communities with the tools they need to prevent crime.
by improving their social skills,
confidence, grades, range
                                                  Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada agrees with these perspectives. Over 100 years of providing
of interests and peer networks,                   support and services dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children, youth and
as well as preventing the                         their families has taught us that it is unhelpful to approach concerns about public safety and
negative influences that lead                      the task of preparing young people for adulthood as competing priorities. Synergies in pursuing
to risky behaviours.                              these two objectives simultaneously are achievable and desirable.
These programs are already                        What is needed now is a shift in public policy – towards a positive youth development approach.
everywhere across Canada,
                                                  Government decisions driven by remedial or punitive responses to the problems young people
but their chronic underfunding
renders them incapable of                         face are proving to be limited in their effectiveness and are wasting limited public resources.
addressing our growing gang
CHET TLEBURGH, MICHAEL, (2007)                       Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada encourages all levels of government to join with
YOUNG THUGS: INSIDE                                  communities in developing comprehensive strategies that will empower families and that
THE DANGEROUS WORLD                                  can sustain the supports needed for all children and youth to thrive.

2    Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada – Fall 2008
                                        positive behaviours
Sustaining What Works
Improving the quality of life in a high-risk neighbourhood through free recreational activities for                          The opportunity to develop
kids, more jobs for youth and better use of the physical space has reduced police reported crime                             positive behaviours is the
                                                                                                                             foundation of most efforts
by 60% over 1½ years.16
                                                                                                                             to prevent youth crime and
Referring to the state of science on what works, a recent report to the National Crime Prevention                            violence. The most effective
Centre in Canada identified three types of community-based programs considered                                                prevention strategies attend
                                                                                                                             to family and community deficits
to be promising in preventing crime: Gang member intervention programs that are focused
                                                                                                                             over a sustained period of time.
on reducing cohesion among youth gangs and individual gang members; Community-based
mentoring; and After-school recreation (premised on the belief that providing pro-social
opportunities for young people in the after-school hours can reduce their involvement in
delinquent behaviour in the community).17
Despite policy statements grandly describing youth as our future and talking of the importance of
investments in social capital, many of our youth are losing ground. Why is this so? In part it
is because we are failing to take action to ensure that primary prevention supports are in place.
To do so will require a more concerted effort to address the social and economic circumstances
that influence youths’ opportunities to be meaningfully engaged in constructive activities and
skills development.
It is widely documented that after-school programs, recreational, education and employment
opportunities contribute to a young person’s long term physical well-being and to his or her
healthy emotional, social and intellectual development. Too many children and youth have limited
                                                                                                                             For many young people who lack
access and are not receiving these basic building blocks.                                                                    this opportunity, their choices
Youth development programs, which emphasize the provision of opportunities for growth and                                    are/or become an issue of
the presence of caring stable adults, have been more successful in engaging children than                                    survival and in meeting their
                                                                                                                             immediate needs. It is imperative
efforts that target the prevention of specific problems.
                                                                                                                             that our responses and decisions
In general, many youth have resources in their families and communities to provide them with the                             for investments and policy not
skills and opportunities to be successful and make positive choices. However, increasingly there                             be considered — ‘just a nice or
are many young people who do not have an equal playing field. Providing social and emotional                                  good thing to do’.
supports to meet children and youths’ developmental needs has been proven to make a                                        “ Youth and human development
difference in under-resourced neighbourhoods with few civic resources.                                                       is a process — steps in a
                                                                                                                             continuum. If expectations are
As we continue to experience an increase in the number of children and youth growing up in
                                                                                                                             that individual programming in
situations of economic privation, inadequate housing, and lack of adult supervision and positive                             a specific area is going to make
role modelling, it is clear that we will also continue to see more children and youth who are                                a 180 degree turnaround — it is
ill-prepared to deal with the social, emotional, behavioural, and academic demands placed                                    not going to work. The process
on them by society.                                                                                                          must be supported constantly
                                                                                                                             and consistently!“
To achieve long-term impact our investments need to address the context in which youth
live. Effective interventions will be those that assist communities to provide opportunities and                             PETER AMPONSAH, BGCC Youth Alumni
                                                                                                                             & National Board of Directors.
social controls. We must shift our thinking to focus on services and experiences young people
need to be successful, and also understand which young people most require these services.
Ensuring the availability and reliability of these services must be our first priority. Youth
emphasize the importance of having access to programs that are welcoming and safe, and that
are consistently available – not programs that stop and start over and over again. Good peer
and adult-to-youth relationships are the central ingredients of any positive youth development.
Creating the conditions for these relationships to take hold is a part of any good program.
But sustaining them over time so that they flourish is the key to achieving any lasting impact.

                                                                    Creating Positive Alternatives For Canadian Youth Strategies to Address the Roots of Youth Violence   3
“To keep youth out of gangs                      Boys and Girls Clubs: A Part of the Solution
 you need to develop positive
                                                 Boys and Girls Clubs provide children and youth with safe spaces for productive alternatives to
 relationships with the youth,
 show a real interest in them and                not only occupy out-of-school and weekend time, but also to provide a place were they are
 help instil a sense of belonging                welcomed and have a sense of belonging.
 and hope for the future.”                       Boys and Girls Clubs utilize an integrated model of age-appropriate social, recreational and
MIKE OWEN, E XECUTIVE DIRECTOR,                  academic activities that include proven strategies for building positive relationships, mentoring,
                                                 conflict resolution, skill development and employment training. These programs are developed in
SPRING 2004.
                                                 collaboration with families, local schools and other community partners to create comprehensive
                                                 healthy living opportunities for children and youth.
                                                 Clubs apply a multi-pronged approach to address youth issues through:
                                                 • providing safe, welcoming spaces
                                                 • facilitating access to learning and academic enhancement; access to further education
                                                   and employment
                                                 • developing life skills, leadership skills and civic responsibility
                                                 • providing recreational activities and meeting basic needs such as providing snacks and meals
                                                 • mentoring via positive role models and mentors
                                                 • supporting the development of positive life choices
                                                 Our clubs divert children from future potential criminal behaviour by building the skills and
                                                 abilities that allow them to solve problems, overcome disadvantages, and deal with challenges
                                                 in their community settings. Clubs provide a constellation of protective factors continuously over
All Boys and Girls Clubs provide                 the course of a young persons’ development.
primary prevention through
social, emotional, recreational                  Boys and Girls Clubs occupy youth with productive and meaningful activities, teach life skills, and
and learning programs, that                      provide an environment that builds upon their assets, gives them a sense of belonging, care and
include mentoring, social skills                 positive relationships. Through this approach, Boys and Girls Clubs help keep kids off the street
training, vocation and job                       and support them to resist peer pressure and the lure of risky or criminal behaviour.
training. A number of clubs also
provide youth shelters, juvenile                 Many Clubs have also developed creative outreach strategies to engage youth who may not
offender programs, and diversion                 otherwise join a Club or have opportunities to engage in positive relationships and activities.
or community accountability
programs.                                        Innovative Approaches to Sustainable Crime Prevention
                                                 Boys and Girls Club across Canada have developed programs in the areas of primary prevention,
                                                 intervention and crime reduction. Boys and Girls Clubs provide the essential components of what
                                                 research tells us is needed for delinquency prevention and what young people themselves say
                                                 they need – meaningful activities, improving education, youth employment and volunteer
                                                 opportunities, enhancing social skills, and providing youth with mentors and adult role models.
                                                 Torch and Keystone Club Leadership Programs – for 10 to 13-year-olds and 14 to 18-year-olds,
                                                 respectively. The Torch program provides young people with the tools and knowledge they
                                                 need to become leaders, to carry out community projects and to make a difference in their
                                                 communities. Keystone clubs provide a youth-lead, participative model that assists teens
                                                 in developing life skills.
                                                 Power UP – an academic enrichment initiative. Participants (aged 8 to 14) are offered a number
                                                 of academic enhancements such as peer-to-peer tutoring, homework and literacy help and
                                                 internet use, to help them enhance school performance.
                                                 Scholarship Programs – 58 scholarships for post-secondary education are provided annually.
                                                 They are awarded to recipients who have demonstrated extraordinary service to their Boys and
                                                 Girls Club and community and are in need of financial assistance to attend full-time post-
                                                 secondary education.

4   Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada – Fall 2008
The following are a few examples of the range of programs and significant contributions of Boys and Girls Clubs.
From 1999 to 2003, Ottawa Boys and Girls Club conducted a project focused on high-risk children aged 6 to 12 living in a high needs
social housing neighbourhood in Ottawa. This successful program offered life skills development, a homework club, sports and
recreation opportunities and ongoing individual support that resulted in increased resiliency to risk factors by participants.
YELL provided employment and leadership training as well as exposure to, and experience with community development, community
engagement and community safety. Participants in the 40 week program were “underserved youth” between 16 – 30 years, who had not
earned a high school diploma, former and current gang members, those who had been through the criminal justice system and
unattached youth with several employment barriers. “The YELL program helped me get on track. This was an amazing program –
it gave me more self-esteem, confidence in myself and made me more open to new things: as well this program never gave up on me.”

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Niagara operates an emergency shelter for homeless or at-risk youth. The shelter can accommodate
10 youth and provides short-term housing, meals, referrals, and supports. “While difficult to track youth after their stay, statistics
during a 22 month period demonstrated that 67% transitioned into stable housing.”

An additional outcome consistently demonstrated is the number of youth who continue to access the program after their transition
to the community. The aftercare component of the shelter unit has been growing steadily and most recent statistics show an average
of 7 visits per day by non-residents to access supports including: supportive counselling, phone, fax and internet access, meals, social
engagement and participation in shelter programs.

The goal of this project was to reduce the risk of children coming into conflict with the law by exposing them to positive role models,
and equipping them with skills to counteract the effects of “risk factors” (such as poverty, family conflict, poor parenting, abuse,
anti-social peer group influences, bullying, etc). The core of this program was life skills training with additional activities in the areas
of sports and recreation; and education and mentoring. The program increased socialization, learning and discipline among
participants, as well as with parents, families, staff and educators; and showed that the children were better equipped to discuss
problems and issues and act upon them appropriately as a result of the life skills developed.

The program, offered at 23 Boys and Girls Clubs in Alberta, delivered instruction in conflict resolution, mediation, helping peers and
dealing with difference. The life skills that youth acquired, taught them how to resolve conflict peacefully, to react non-violently, and
how to engage in healthy relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Subsequently, these skills will reduce the propensity
of youth resorting to criminal behaviour and potential victimization and significantly improve personal relationships in the workplace,
at home and with friends. Eighty-seven percent reported that they are more confident in their ability to build peace in their community,
85% reported that they feel more confident in helping others manage conflict and 91% said they can now manage conflict better in their
own lives.

The YRJ Program consists of fi ve programs, including Community Service Order, Extra Judicial Sanctions, Youth Justice Committee,
Extra Judicial Measures Program and the Youth Outreach Worker Program. The Youth Outreach Worker Program is a great example
of a program that encourages individual growth – by removing barriers, fostering effective linkages and engagement and addressing
individual risk factors and strengths. The Extra Judicial Measures is a pre-charge intervention program – an innovative police and
community partnership.

This program continues to grow and evolve based on the needs and wants of participating youth. The majority of the adolescents
are choosing generational patterns of behaviour to meet their basic needs. Through the implementation of Choice Theory practices
and Reality Therapy counselling and intervention, the program empowers youth to create a quality picture for themselves. Challenging
the youth to visualize and sustain their dreams to meet long term goals will eventually break the poverty cycle and long term dependency
on social assistance and crime.
                                                                     Creating Positive Alternatives For Canadian Youth Strategies to Address the Roots of Youth Violence   5
                                                 The good news is that many communities already have the infrastructure
                                                 in place to achieve the goal of giving youth a home base. Like most other
                                                 social service agencies, however, local Boys and Girls Clubs face a constant
                                                 struggle for financial survival, despite their powerful ability to help at-risk
                                                 youth and to support communities in the fight against gangs. 22

                                                 Moving Forward: A Call to Action
                                                 The criminal justice system has an important role to play in community safety. However, it is also
                                                 clear that spending more and more on police, courts and prisons alone will not reduce the crime,
                                                 victimization and fear suffered by the direct victims of crime and the communities in which
                                                 crimes occur. 20
                                                 Attacking root causes doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if savings from reduced
                                                 incarceration are reinvested in troubled neighbourhoods. With crime [in Canada] costing an
                                                 estimated $70 billion annually, $1.8 billion of it for prisons, cost-benefi t analyses have repeatedly
                                                 shown such investments would save many more billions in the long run. 21
                                                 Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada recognizes that sustainable solutions will require a commitment
                                                 to economic and social policy reforms that rest within the auspices of both the federal
33% of Boys and Girls Clubs
                                                 and provincial governments. In this regard we will also continue to urge all Provinces to adopt
volunteers are youth.                            and pursue poverty reduction targets that are necessary for reducing youth violence.

                                                 In 1993, the Standing Committee
                                                 on Justice and the Solicitor General,
                                                 also known as the Horner Commission,
                                                 called for the allocation of an equivalent
                                                 5% of the federal criminal justice
                                                 budget towards tackling risk factors
                                                 associated with crime.23

6   Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada – Fall 2008
Recommendations For Public Policy
BGCC envisions cooperation among all orders of the government and the voluntary and private
sectors to address youth violence. This will require comprehensive strategies focused on social
development and mechanisms to support effective and ongoing collaboration.
We call upon the Government of Canada to provide leadership in these endeavours and to
develop policy responses to crime and victimization that are preventive and proactive – building
upon family and community capacities, not their deficits.

 1. A national youth outcomes strategy that outlines Canada’s youth development
    goals, strategies and related investments, and that enables ongoing
    collaboration and planning among provincial/territorial and municipal
    governments, national Aboriginal organizations, child and youth serving
    organizations, police associations and RCMP and other key stakeholder groups.
 2. Crime prevention policies focused on recreation, training and employment,
    developed with the involvement of youth, especially those who are
    disadvantaged.                                                                                                         In 2002 a study by US Senator
                                                                                                                           Joseph Biden noted that
 3. A youth labour market strategy that ensures access to a full range of youth                                            wherever there is a Boys and
    employment options, including training, opportunities for youth empowerment,                                           Girls Club, there is a significant
    education, and career advancement. This strategy would build upon existing                                             reduction in crime.18
    federal programs such as those funded through Service Canada, as well
    as Canadian Summer Jobs Initiative.
 4. Comprehensive investment plans for community-based children and youth
    programming that will:
    a. enhance, expand and sustain existing community infrastructure;
    b. provide long-term funding commitments for programs that have been piloted
       and proven effective in crime reduction and positive youth development.
    c. support the coordination and expansion of current out of school programs,
       promoting recreation, social and life-skills development, with particular
       measures to ensure accessibility for low income families;
    d. support community organizations to provide targeted out-reach
       programs to at-risk youth, and to provide services in non-traditional,
       youth friendly spaces
    e. support the coordination and expansion of mentoring programs and
       approaches with existing youth organizations;
    f. invest in adequate levels of pay for qualified youth workers to help address
       the recruitment and retention challenges facing organizations.

                                                                  Creating Positive Alternatives For Canadian Youth Strategies to Address the Roots of Youth Violence   7
make a difference

8   Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada – Fall 2008
1. Statistics Canada “General social survey – Criminal             13. Canadian Council on Social Development. Child & Youth
   victimization”. The Daily. Thursday, November 24, 2005.             Crime Prevention through Social Development. When Kids             fl ourish, Crime doesn’t.
2. Toronto Star analysis based on federal incarceration data           retrieved. Aug. 08
   obtained via freedom of information requests; quote is from     14. Cohen, M.M. 1998. The Monetary Value of Saving a high-risk
   the Star Editorial, July 29, 2008                                   youth. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 14, 5 - 33
3. Human Resources and Social Development Canada,                  15. Canadian Parks and Recreation Association. “The Cost
   Canadian Youth: Who are they and What do they Want?                 to Incarcerate Youth”.
   January 2005. Active Employment Measures Policy.                    library/
4. FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System master           16. San Romanoway Revitalization: National Crime Prevention
   fi les for the years 1991-1996. United States of America.            Strategy. 2004
5. Public Safety Canada. Keeping Canadians Safe,                   17. Welsh, Brandon, Associate Professor, Department of
   Youth gang involvement: What are the risk factors?                  Criminal Justice, University of Massachusetts Lowell,                        Final report prepared for National Crime Prevention Centre,
6. Waller, I & Weiler, D, 1984. Crime Prevention through social        Public Safety Canada. June 2007. “Evidence-based Crime
   development: An overview with sources. Ottawa, Canadian             Prevention: Scientific basis, trends, results and implications
   Council on Social Development                                       for Canada.
7. Public Safety Canada. 2007. Youth Gangs in Canada:              18. Biden Senator J. R. Biden, Jr., ‘Safehavens, Safe Children:
   What do we know?                         Boys and Girls Clubs and the Fight Against Juvenile Crime’,
   gldngevd/2007-yg-1-en.asp                                           (2002), Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, United States
8. Ibid.
                                                                   19. Calgary survey of parents and youth, Boys and Girls Clubs
9. Canadian Council on Social Development. Child & Youth
                                                                       – 2005
   Crime Prevention through Social Development. When Kids
   fl ourish, Crime doesn’t.          20. Waller. I. (2006). Less Law, More Order.
10. Artville, LLC. 1999. “Strategies to Prevent Youth Violence.”   21. Toronto Star – July 26, 2008 “Solving Crime? Tackle the           Root Causes First”
11. Ibid                                                           22. Chettleburg, Michael, 2007. Young Thugs Inside the
                                                                       Dangerous World of Canadian Gangs
12. International Centre for the Prevention of Crime. 1999.
    Crime prevention digest II. Montreal: ICPC.                    23. Institute for the Prevention of Crime. Sept. 07 “Building
                                                                       a Safer Canada: First Report of the National Working Group
                                                                       on Crime Prevention.
A good place to be

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
Clubs Garçons et Filles du Canada
7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 204
Markham, Ontario L3R 5J2
T 905-477-7272
F 905-477-2056

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