BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Youth Law

Grade 11


Youth Law

Big Idea

A society’s laws and legal framework affect many aspects of people’s daily lives (from Law Studies 12).

Essential Question

How are youth offenders treated differently than adult offenders?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • rights of individuals in Canada (adapted from Law Studies 12)

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions

Core Competencies

Students can collaborate effectively with others to deliver and present knowledge about the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Students can challenge assumptions and reflect on views on youth offenders from throughout the learning experience.

Students can demonstrate empathy, personal responsibility, and listening skills during the restorative justice circle activity.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning is reflective, experiential, and relational.
  • Using a Think-Pair-Share strategy, have students discuss: “Should teenagers be treated the same as adults in the criminal justice system? Why or why not?”
  • During the discussion, create a list on the board with reasons why and reasons why not.
  • Students will write an individual journal entry responding to the question.
  • Use a Carousel Discussion to activate and assess students' prior knowledge about criminal procedures. Post the following topics on chart paper around the room:
    • arrest and detention
    • pre-trial
    • trial procedures
    • sentencing
  • Organize students in four groups and have group each start at a different topic. Ask “What do you already know about this criminal procedure for adult offenders?”.
  • Allow time for groups to discuss and record their ideas on chart paper. Then rotate to the next topic where they will add to the ideas of the previous group. Continue until each group has discussed each topic.



Part 1: Comparing Youth Offenders and Adult Offenders


Part 2: Comparing the Young Offenders Act & Youth Criminal Justice Act

  • Ask students: How have the principles of youth justice changed over time? Students will share ideas and discuss.
  • Hand out the graphic organizer Youth Criminal Law in Canada. Students will compare the Young Offenders Act (1984-2003) and Youth Criminal Justice Act (2003-present).
  • Afterwards, review by asking: What are the goals and guiding principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act? Follow up with the question: “What specific provisions of the act can help achieve these goals?” Students can brainstorm answers and discuss as a class.


Part 3: Everything You Need to Know About YCJA

  • Handout the assignment Youth Criminal Justice Act Informational Pamphlet. Students will be working in small groups to create informational pamphlets that explain different aspects of the YCJA:
  • Legal rights of youth regarding search or detention
    • Legal rights of youth upon arrest
    • Extrajudicial measures
    • Youth and adult court
    • Youth sentence options under the YCJA
    • Youth records
  • These pamphlets will be presented to the class in a “fair” that also could be attended by other members of the school community.
  • Students will set up “booths” in the classroom in the style of an information fair.
  • At least one member of the group will be at the booth to present their pamphlet and speak on that aspect of the YCJA as a topic expert. Other group members will rotate around the class to other booths. There will be a switch halfway through class so each student will have a chance to present and to learn from others.
  • Assess the pamphlets using the Youth Criminal Justice Act: Informational Pamphlet Rubric.
  • Have students reflect in their journals:
    • How are youth offenders treated differently from adult offenders?
    • How is the YCJA designed to enforce the legal rights of youth?
  • Have students engage in a restorative justice circle regarding an issue affecting your school community.
  • Potential topics include harassment, substance use, or vandalism.
  • Use the Restorative Justice Circle Guidelines and Questions to structure the activity.


Canada. 2017. “The Youth Criminal Justice Act Summary and Background.” Department of Justicehttps://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/yj-jj/tools-outils/back-hist.html 

Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta. 2020. “Introduction (YCJA). Canadian Legal FAQs.  http://www.law-faqs.org/national-faqs/youth-and-the-law-national/youth-criminal-justice-act-ycja/introduction-ycja/ 

Jeffrey, Nicole, et al. [n.d.] “Youth Criminal Justice in Canada: Journey of a Youth Offender Aged 12-17.” Community Engaged Scholarship Institute, University of Guelph. https://atrium.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10214/10256/Jeffrey_etal_YouthCriminalJusticeInCanada_Infographic_2017.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y   

Justice Education Society. 2020. “Explore the YCJA.” Vancouver, B.C. https://www.ycja.ca/

Justice  Education Society. 2018. “Young Offenders.” Vancouver, B.C. https://www.justiceeducation.ca/legal-help/crime/youth-and-crime/young-offenders  

Justice Education Society. 2016. “Legal Rights for Youth in British Columbia.” Vancouver, B.C. https://www.legalrightsforyouth.ca/

OJEN, Ontario Justice Education Network. 2008. “In Brief: Restorative Justice in the Criminal Context.” http://ojen.ca/en/resource/in-brief-restorative-justice-in-the-criminal-context.

Youth Criminal Justice Act, SC 2002, c 1. http://canlii.ca/t/544ls [This statute replaces RSC 1985, c Y-1.]

Young Offenders Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. Y-1. 2003. Archived. Justice Laws Website. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/y-1/20030101/P1TT3xt3.html



Murphy, Terry, et. al. “All About Law: Exploring the Canadian Legal System.” 6th ed., Toronto, ON: Nelson Education, 2010.  

Download Complete Lesson Plan

.docx .pdf

Rate this Curriculum

Last Reviewed

March 01, 2023

Produced by JES

curriculum developers