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Youth Understanding & Assertion of Legal Rights: Examining the Roles of Age and Power

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Young people are entitled to the same legal rights as adults. However past research has questioned the extent to which youth effectively understand their rights and perceive that they can assert them when necessary because of their development and power differences vis-à-vis adult criminal justice professionals. Young people’s understanding of their due process rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child were examined. Participants were fifty adolescents ranging in age from 13-17 who received a diversionary response by the Crown prosecutor or were sentenced by the court to probation in a courthouse in Toronto, Ontario. Results of semi-structured interviews conducted with youth indicated that while age plays some role, the lack of power experienced by youth vis-à-vis criminal justice professionals has the most bearing on the inability of youth to exercise their rights. Implications of the study are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: a)Policy Studies doctoral program, Ryerson University; and M.A., Brock University, christine.goodwin@ryerson.ca ; 2: b)Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University, and Faculty, M.A. Social Justice & Equity Studies, Brock University

10.1163/157181812X652607
/content/journals/10.1163/157181812x652607
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/content/journals/10.1163/157181812x652607
2012-01-01
2016-12-03

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