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									Promoting Informed Action


Although the documentation on bullying considers taxing to be one of the various manifestations of
this phenomenon, taxing has become the focus of a distinct field of intervention in Québec in recent
years. Taxing may be defined as a form of bullying where victims are forced, through violent acts
(threats, hitting, etc.), to hand over belongings or money (extortion). These acts may be perpetrated by
one or more young people and be directed against one or more young people.2 They may also involve
a single act against one victim. Legally, taxing is deemed an indictable offence—a form of robbery
committed for the purpose of extortion, intimidation or harassment—liable to severe sanctions under
the Criminal Code of Canada (ss. 343, 344, 346 and 465).6

In 2001-2002, 34 non-profit organizations in 12 of Québec's 17 administrative regions performed a
diagnosis of taxing among young people in the communities where the organizations were located.4
This diagnosis was part of the "Youth Taxing in Québec" initiative launched by the Ministère de la
Sécurité publique. The exercise gathered data from 16 660 young people, both boys and girls, in the
third cycle of elementary school and Secondary I, III and V, as well as from youth outside the school
setting. Unless otherwise indicated, the statistics presented in this document come from an analysis of
the data collected for the purpose of this diagnostic exercise.

Centre québécois de ressources en promotion                                                 Page 1 of 7
de la sécurité et en prévention de la criminalité
Scope of the problem in Québec
In Québec, 6% of young people report that they have already engaged in taxing or have attempted to
do so, while 11% report that they have already been victims. An additional 23% say that they have
witnessed taxing. In all, six out of ten young people say that they have been involved in taxing, as
perpetrators, victims or witnesses. Furthermore, half say they are afraid of being a target at some
point, regardless of whether they have ever been involved in such situations.

Places where taxing occurs
The less a place is frequented or supervised by adults, the more likely it is to be the scene of taxing
incidents. Contrary to popular belief, taxing is not confined to the school environment or the
surrounding area. It can also occur in public places, such as parks, bus shelters and metro stations.6
Paradoxically, four in five young people say they are afraid of being victimized in or around school. In
short, the areas where taxing most commonly occurs are said to be:

    •   Public places outside school: parks, places associated with public transit (the metro, buses,
        bus shelters, etc.), young people's own neighbourhoods, shopping centres and other places
        frequented by youth (bars, discotheques, restaurants, etc.)
    •   Places in or around school (including school buses)

Profile of perpetrators and victims
The problem of taxing is experienced differently according to the gender and age of those involved.
Although girls may engage in taxing, the typical profile of perpetrators is that of a young male aged 12
to 16, lacking parental supervision; moreover, such boys can come from any socioeconomic
background.2 Victims are usually of the same sex as perpetrators and, therefore, usually boys. They
also tend to be younger than their aggressors (by about one year)—a situation that reinforces the
power imbalance between them.1 It is interesting to note that victims usually consider their aggressors
to be older than they are, while aggressors usually think of their victims as being of the same age.2

Often, victims and perpetrators know each other, without having close ties: for example, they
sometimes attend the same school or live in the same neighbourhood. Even though the relationship
between them is not very strong, the fact that they are acquainted makes victims hesitate to reveal the
situation for fear of retaliation. In short:

    •   Boys of all ages are twice as likely to engage in taxing as girls are.
    •   Boys who tax other young people or try to do so are mainly in Secondary I and III (i.e. they are
        around 12 to 15 years old).

Centre québécois de ressources en promotion                                                 Page 2 of 7
de la sécurité et en prévention de la criminalité
    •   A higher proportion of boys than girls are targets of taxing.
    •   A higher percentage of girls (58 %) than boys (42 %) are afraid of being victimized.
    •   13% of girls in elementary school say that they have already been victims of taxing compared
        with 8% of girls in secondary school.
    •   More boys than girls admit to being victimized.

The context of taxing
Most taxing incidents occur at night (45%) and in or around school hours (46%), i.e. when young
people go to school in the morning, leave or return to school during lunch hour, or when they leave
school at the end of the day or are on their way home.

Taxing usually involves threatening, pushing and shoving, or grabbing a person. Close to a third of
perpetrators say that they acted alone, while 47% claim to have engaged in taxing in the company of
friends or gang members (21%). The way a person is taxed differs according to the gender of the
perpetrator, with girls using threats to a greater extent than boys do, and boys using weapons more
frequently than girls. Young people who are the target of taxing in secondary school report a weapon
being involved more often than do victims in elementary school (20% compared with 13%).

Justifications for taxing
When it comes to explaining why they have engaged in taxing, young people say, in equal
proportions, that they did it for "fun", for revenge or to obtain something. To a lesser extent, they also
claim that the goal was to obtain protection or to show people, especially the other members of their
gang, that they that were "somebody."

In half of taxing incidents, the objects the perpetrator sought to obtain were money or debit cards,
school supplies, food, bus passes, or clothing and accessories. Objects considered "in," such as inline
skates, skateboards, scooters, bicycles, pagers and cell phones, were reported to be involved in 25%
of incidents. The more valuable an object is, the greater the level of violence observed, with weapons
even being used in some cases.5

Centre québécois de ressources en promotion                                                    Page 3 of 7
de la sécurité et en prévention de la criminalité
Risk factors
It is not easy to provide an exact profile of the kind of young person who engages in taxing, or to
identify precisely which factors are responsible. Indeed, a number of factors play a role in the
development of the delinquent behaviours associated with taxing in a given individual. In reality, the
factors associated with taxing are more or less the same as the risk factors associated with

An exploratory study describing youth who had engaged in taxing in Québec highlighted certain
factors that are likely to lead a young person to adopt this type of behaviour,2 namely:

    •   Having been a victim of taxing
    •   Having a history of juvenile delinquency
    •   Frequenting street gangs or other juvenile delinquents
    •   Having a drug problem
    •   Being exposed to modelling of violent behaviour at home (as a witness, a victim or an
        aggressor) and having developed a certain tolerance for violence, especially in the family
    •   Holding delinquent values (wanting to project an image of being "tough", i.e. capable not only
        of defending oneself, but also of attacking others, etc.)
    •   Having a desire to satisfy immediate needs, without foreseeing the consequences of one's
    •   Falling behind at school, lacking motivation and having learning or behavioural problems at

Consequences of taxing
Even though taxing is liable to severe sanctions, victims rarely file complaints with law enforcement
authorities or other people. When they do confide in others, they usually choose friends or their
parents (friends being the first choice). The main reason they remain silent is the fear that the
aggressor will retaliate against them, their family or friends. Official sources are therefore not very
reliable when it comes to determining the real scope of the problem of taxing in Québec,7 or anywhere
else for that matter.

The consequences of taxing on victims are similar to those experienced by anyone who has been the
target of aggression. They vary and can fall into any of the following categories:

    •   Physical: injuries (especially among young victims) and psychosomatic symptoms (headaches,
        stomach aches, nausea, skin problems, significant weight gain or weight loss, etc.)

Centre québécois de ressources en promotion                                                   Page 4 of 7
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    •   Psychological: fear of seeing the aggressor again, of being taxed again or of going out or being
        alone; low self-esteem; feelings of powerlessness, humiliation and anger; insomnia and
        nightmares. In some instances, taxing can even lead to suicidal thoughts.7
    •   Social: withdrawal from or loss of contact with friends, poor school attendance, absenteeism or
        dropping-out, giving up sports or cultural activities
    •   Existential: difficulty concentrating, making decisions, etc.
    •   Financial: loss of property 6, 7

Effective strategies for preventing taxing or promoting
As with all other psychosocial or delinquency problems, anti-taxing strategies must be based on a
multidimensional approach. It is important that schools (both elementary and secondary), parents and
youth, as well as community, institutional and law enforcement stakeholders, work together to
eradicate taxing.

Although schools seem to be the best place to take action, measures must also focus on taxing
outside the school setting. Young people must be made aware of the human and legal consequences
of this type of behaviour. Anti-taxing strategies must also take into account the actual life experiences
of young people who engage in taxing. In addition, they must be tailored to the gender, level of
schooling and age of the youth they target.

Sensitization and promotion activities designed to foster better understanding of taxing can highlight
four essential points: 1) the serious consequences of taxing for perpetrators, given that taxing is
considered robbery under the Criminal Code and is liable to severe sanctions; 2) the serious
consequences of taxing for victims, from physical, psychological and social standpoints; 3) the
importance of making an official accusation when one is the target of taxing; and 4) the socially
unacceptable nature of taxing, hence the need for greater vigilance and increasingly robust action on
the part of social institutions, i.e. schools, police departments and youth centres, in regard to

In addition to raising awareness about the seriousness of taxing and its consequences, it is essential
to mobilize people in the settings affected, in order to prevent taxing. It is important that young people
make a formal collective commitment to no longer tolerate taxing in their respective communities.
People who work with youth (school administrators, teachers, facilitators, youth centre workers, etc.)
must also support and subscribe to such commitments. A number of strategies tested in various
regions of Québec seem to show that communities where young people make a collective
commitment to eradicate taxing are most successful in counteracting this phenomenon.

Centre québécois de ressources en promotion                                                   Page 5 of 7
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To prevent taxing, it is also important to take action regarding the physical settings where taxing
occurs, particularly through measures aimed at increasing supervision in or redesigning the settings.
Supervision in schools can be carried out by supervisors, community police or peers (young people
trained to intervene in conflicts). It must target recess periods and schoolyards, as well as parks,
playgrounds and streets in the vicinity of schools. There must also be better supervision of public
transit to and from school, particularly by public transit security services. Parents' groups,
neighbourhood watch groups and police patrols can also assume responsibility for supervision outside
the school environment. Redesigning areas frequented by youth involves overhauling the lighting (on
the street and elsewhere), installing camera surveillance systems and electronic barriers or controls,
prohibiting access to certain areas within schools at specific times (i.e. when there is no supervision),
removing physical barriers (shrubbery, dividers, etc.) that prevent proper supervision of students, and
redesigning corridors, cafeterias or any other places likely to be used for taxing.2

It is also essential to ensure that promises to take action are fulfilled—that they do not merely remain
good intentions. To that end, youth workers and adults who have contact with young people must be
trained to act when someone is accused of taxing. If young people feel they lack support or are not
being taken seriously, they will soon abandon accusation procedures and keep the situation a secret.1
Lastly, interventions must be accompanied by effective means of providing the entire group of young
people concerned with detailed information on the new measures being implemented.

Specific prevention and intervention tools
Links to prevention and intervention tools concerned with taxing

See also prevention and intervention tools concerned with bullying

Web sites
Links to interesting Web sites on taxing

Centre québécois de ressources en promotion                                                  Page 6 of 7
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    1. Blais, M. F. & Cousineau, M. M. (1999). Violence entre jeunes à Laval : état de situation et
       pistes de solutions. Montréal : Institut de recherche pour le développement social des jeunes
       (Consortium CAVAC, Commission scolaire, Sûreté municipale, CLSC, Laval).

    2. Bouvier, F. (2001). Analyse stratégique du taxage chez les adolescents. Master's thesis.
       Montréal: École de criminologie, Université de Montréal.

    3. Cousineau, M. M. & Ferron, S. (2003). Le taxage, l’affaire des jeunes. Paper presented at the
       Second International Conference on Violence in Schools: research, best practices and teacher
       training, Québec City.

    4. Cousineau, M. M., Gagnon, S. & Bouchard, L. M. (2002). Les jeunes et le taxage au Québec.
        Québec: Ministère de la Sécurité publique. [ Information sheet ]

    5. Deguire, A. E. (2001). Le taxage chez les adolescents montréalais : prévalence, passage à
       l’acte et caractéristiques des taxeurs. Master's thesis. Montréal: Psychoéducation, Université
       de Montréal.

    6. Houde, V. (2002). Le phénomène du taxage et ses conséquences sur les victimes. Master's
       thesis. Montréal: École de criminologie, Université de Montréal.

    7. Société de criminologie du Québec (2000). Trousse d’animation ─ Le taxage : passeport du
       crime (September).

    8. St-Germain, C. (2003). Trois ministères en action. VIRAGES, vol. 5, no 4 (April).

    Written by: Louise Marie Bouchard & Jasline Flores
    Revised by: Marie-Ève Lemieux Breton, November 2005

Centre québécois de ressources en promotion                                                Page 7 of 7
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