Online Resources for Teachers


The following materials are intended to help teachers familiarize themselves with how the law addresses gangs, and to suggest some ways to help their students gain a greater understanding of gangs and their legal implications.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In 2012, Parliament passed Bill C-10, which introduced some changes to laws affecting youth, such as the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The materials on this site are currently being revised to reflect these legislative changes, and the updated versions will be posted as they are completed. In the meantime, please note that some documents may contain some outdated information. To see a summary of the changes to the YCJA, please refer to this page on the Parliament of Canada website.


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NEW ACTIVITY – Kyle’s Choice: An Interactive Fiction Game About the YCJA


(Intended For: Teachers) This backgrounder will help you better understand what a gang is, who is at risk, how people become involved in gangs, and the dangers of being involved.

(Intended For: Secondary Grade Level) This activity directs the student to an understanding of what a gang is by comparing the legal definition of a gang to other definitions. Students synthesize their understanding by coming up with their own definition. This activity is suitable for individuals or small groups, with an…

(Intended For: Teachers, Secondary Grade Level) This activity is designed to be used with the novel of your choice (Outsiders, Durango Street, etc.). Students identify the risk factors and protective factors associated with gang involvement while analyzing a character from a book they are reading. (A character from any work of…


The following links are to external resources that teachers may find useful for lesson plan source material, student exploration and expansion of personal knowledge on this topic. Please contact us to report any broken links.


  • These external links are provided as a convenience for our visitors. While we try to make sure they are current and accurate, the John Howard Society of Alberta is not responsible for them, or the currency,  accuracy or quality of the information they contain.
  • Any links marked with a strikethrough (like this) have been automatically marked as broken and will be fixed eventually. If you have an updated link for a broken one, please let us know.

Canada-Focused Resources

CBC: The Fifth Estate – “Lost in the Struggle: The Next Chapter”
The original program, “Lost in the Struggle”, followed three Toronto teens and their involvement with crime and violence. While it appears to be no longer online, this follow-up episode is available on YouTube.

Edmonton Police Services Gangs Page

John Howard Society of Alberta: Gangs (2001)
This report gives an overview of media, law enforcement, government, research and academic perspectives on gangs, the available responses to gang presence and the change in focus by these various groups.

Youth Gang Involvement – What are the Risk Factors? (PDF)
Published by The National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC) of Public Safety Canada. “This information sheet is one of a series providing information related to youth gang involvement. It is designed to assist those who are concerned about youth gangs and who are working to help prevent youth from becoming involved in gangs or to help them leave gangs.”

Youth gangs in Canada: What do we know? (PDF)
Also from the NCPC of Public Safety Canada. Includes a summary of the results of the 2002 Canadian Police Survey on Youth Gangs. This survey, the first of its kind in Canada, assesses the extent and characteristics of the youth gang problem in communities throughout Canada, as reported by law enforcement agencies.

Addressing Youth Gang Problems: An Overview of Programs and Practices (PDF)
Also from the NCPC of Public Safety Canada. “This research brief is designed to assist those who are concerned about youth gangs and who are working to help prevent youth from becoming involved in gangs or to help them leave gangs. Despite the lack of quality evaluations that have been conducted to date to assess the effectiveness of youth gang prevention, intervention and suppression efforts, this literature review will provide an overview of some of the programs and practices that aim to address the complex issue of youth gangs.”

Youth Gang Prevention Fund (Public Safety Canada)
The YGPF invests in communities where youth gangs are an existing or emerging threat and supports initiatives that clearly target youth in gangs or at greatest risk of joining gangs. Priority is given to projects that address specific risk and protective factors associated with youth violence and gang membership and will demonstrate results that reduce and prevent the risks of future gun violence and gang activity. The site also has a report on past projects titled Youth Gang Prevention Fund Projects : What Did We Learn About What Works in Preventing Gang Involvement? (HTMLPDF)

“Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC) has a mandate to help prevent crime in local communities by generating and disseminating evidence-based knowledge of ‘what works’ in crime prevention. This practical knowledge of effective practices will assist policy makers, program developers and practitioners make the best use of limited resources. … This report provides a high level synthesis of key findings from projects addressing youth gangs between 2007 and 2012.”

Research Institute for the Law and Family
In 2005, the Institute prepared a document for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada entitled Youth Gangs in Canada: A Preliminary Review of Programs and Services.

Documents from the RCMP
– A Research Report on Youth Gangs: Problems, Perspective and Priorities
– Feature Focus 2006: Youth Gangs and Guns (PDF version)

A Snapshot of Prison Gangs and Youth Gangs in Canada: Well-Known Gangs, Membership, Offences, Risk, and Reconviction
“ is an independent research site on criminal justice issues. It is not affiliated with any governmental organization or institution.”

Young Thugs
A book by Michael Chettleburgh (published in 2007) which “takes you inside the dangerous world of Canadian street gangs”. Chettleburg’s book is available for purchase online, but check your local library as well.

Youth Gangs in Canada: A Preliminary Review of Programs and Services (PDF)
A report prepared in 2005 for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada. Submitted and hosted by the Canadian Research Institute for Law and Family.


The following books are currently available on Google Books (linked below); they may also be at your local library, or available through interlibrary loans.

The Youth Gang Problem: A Community Approach
By Irving A. Spergel

Street Gangs: Current Knowledge and Strategies
by Catherine H. Conly

Other Resources

Arturo J. Hernandez: Gang Prevention and Intervention
Arturo Hernandez is an educator, author, counsellor and expert on gang-involved youth, and founder of two schools for gang youth. The articlesEducation and the Prevention of Youth Gangs and A Different Healing: Gang Youth Within a Tribal Circle relate two stories of working with gang-affected youth in Native South American communities.

Gangs and At-Risk Kids
This site includes stories by ex-gang members or gang members serving long prison sentences, written to offer hope to others who might be going through the same problems. The Ask a Prisoner section offers information about gangs, prison, and other topics of interest.

Gangs in Small Towns and Rural Counties by James C. Howell and Arlen Egley, Jr.: NYGC Bulletin (PDF)
“Implementation of the Comprehensive Gang Prevention, Intervention, and Suppression Model involves six steps, which are managed by a Steering Committee of policy or decision-makers from organizations or agencies that have an interest in or responsibility for addressing the community’s gang problem.”

Into The Abyss: A Personal Journey into the World of Street Gangs by Mike Carlie
An electronic book that provides an overview of gangs and the American gang phenomenon. This website explores over 80 different gang-related topics and offers more than 2,400 links to useful gang-related websites on the Internet.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service: Spotlight on Gangs
A variety of resources and information from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Youth Gangs in Rural America by Ralph A. Weisheit and L. Edward Wells (PDF)
“The differences between urban and rural gangs strongly suggest that the policies and practices aimed at suppressing urban gangs may not be the best approaches in non-urban areas. A different set of strategies must be created, directed squarely at the unique characteristics of rural youth gangs.”

National Youth Gang Center (NYGC): Institute for Intergovernmental Research
Gang information and resources from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

STRYVE (Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere)
Search this site for gang-related information. Sponsored by the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.