Youth Criminal Justice Act

Online Resources for Teachers


Developing a fundamental understanding of the law is an important component of Social Studies instruction, and crosses over into the Health and C.A.L.M. instruction. The Youth Criminal Justice Act is an important act for students to have a basic understanding of at all grade levels,  particularly as it applies to their personal lives.

One of the challenges many teachers face in presenting legal information is acquiring the background knowledge. To assist teachers, we have prepared two documents: a shorter overview of the Act, and a more detailed handbook.

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 In the meantime, please note that some documents may contain some outdated information.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.


  • All documents are provided free of charge, in exchange for some information about you. Feel free to add as many documents as you like to your shopping cart. When you’re ready to check out, click the “Free – Add to Cart” button again after it changes to read “Check Out”, or click the “Check Out” link in the Downloads Cart in the right-hand column on this page.
  • All documents are in PDF format except where otherwise indicated. To view them, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader, available for free at this link. To save the document to your computer, right-click on the link and choose “Save Target As…” or “Save link as…”.

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


Intended For: Teachers, Secondary Grade Level The Overview is intended to provide a basic working knowledge of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It contains much of the same information that the teaching activities are built around, but is collected in one document without lessons and activities. This document is primarily…

Intended For: Teachers, Secondary Grade Level The Handbook offers more information and goes into greater detail than the Overview. It can be used as a resource for teachers, or distributed to students. Printed copies of the Handbook are also available. If you wish to request copies, please contact us.

Intended For: Teachers, Secondary Grade Level This document contains the full text of Sections 7-14 of the Charter, which are concerned with legal rights. You can read the entire Charter here.

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level These questions can be used for individual student examination of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for a group activity, or as a guide for general class discussion.

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level Contains suggested extension activities and links to online information and resources.

(Intended For: Elementary Grade Level) This document contains student pages and a teacher's edition of the same pages. The questions guide students through the purpose and rationale of rules and laws. Students are directed to look for rules around them and ask questions about them. Who makes them? What is their…

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level This document contains student pages and a teacher's edition of the same pages.  This activity engages students in finding out about the different roles of the courtroom participants and places them in the context of a typical Alberta courtroom. The teacher's edition pages can also…

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level This document contains student pages and a teacher's edition of the same pages. The objective is to engage students in an exploration of the scope and the "declaration of principle" underlying the YCJA. It engages them in examining excerpts from the Act, examining the vocabulary…

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level This page outlines student rights and responsibilities when they encounter police. It relates these rights and responsibilities to the relevant sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level This document gives students the fundamental details of the Act. It is a valuable information source for discussion, and is an essential resource for the Case Study and Role Playing activities (see below).

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level This document can be used for independent study or group work. Students explore publishing, what a record is, how long it lasts, and its impact. Two activity sheets help students use media databases to search for examples of publication bans, explore the personal consequences of…

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level In these case studies, students are presented with many youth offence scenarios. Based on their reading and comprehension of the Youth Criminal Justice Act from the previous activities, and examining their own sense of what is just and fair, students work through the cases to…

Intended For: Secondary Grade Level This activity offers visual support for students to follow the youth criminal justice process from initial police contact to sentencing. The question sheet guides students through the process, and the answer sheet enables the teacher to provide supporting information. Teachers can make overhead transparencies 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.


LawCentral Schools: Resources for Alberta Teachers
The site offers a wide variety of lesson plans, organized by school subject or legal topic, as well as magazines for teachers and students, tips, mock trial information, videos and more.

Alberta Courts
This site contains information on Alberta’s court system including the Court of Appeal, Court of Queen’s Bench, Provincial Court and Court Services. Of particular interest may be the resources on Youth Court and Locations & Sittings for your region.

Alberta Justice: Education and Learning
A variety of learning resources are provided to support and supplement classroom instruction. Three particularly useful classroom resources are:

Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security 
More information on Young Offenders and the YCJA are available from this website, including:

Canadian Legal FAQs: Youth and the LawThis section of the Canadian Legal FAQs website produced by the Legal Resource Centre of Alberta addresses many questions that youth may have about the law and how it relates to them.

Youth Criminal Justice Act in Action
Video Guide to the YCJA produced by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.

Legal Aid Alberta
This site has detailed information on the legal aid program in Alberta. The I Need Legal Help section has specific information and programs and services offered throughout the province.

Youth Criminal Defence Office
This site contains crisis numbers, legal information resources, an extensive and searchable list of services available throughout Alberta.


Explore the YCJA
Created by the Justice Education Society of BC. Resources for teachers, youth, police and other professionals.

Youth Justice New Brunswick
Updated in June 2014 with new resources.

Youth Justice Information
A page of links to resources provided by the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba.

Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan: Youth and Schools
This section of the PLEA site has a variety of downloadable teaching resources for teachers and students.


Department of Justice Canada
Additional and more in depth information on the YCJA is available here. The site includes:

Criminal Code of Canada
Link to the full text of the Code.

Justice Canada Videos
A 6-part video series from Justice Canada focusing on the YCJA and youth justice. Click the links below to watch the videos on YouTube.

Recent Changes to Canada’s Youth Justice System
Summarizes the changes in legislation enacted and put into force in 2012.

Canadian Legal Information Institute Database (CanLII)
This is a searchable database of law, legal decisions, and individual cases useful for primary source research activities. CanLII is a non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

Your Guide to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
From the Heritage Canada Human Rights Program. The link goes to the Legal Rights section of the Guide; the main page link is here.

Centre For Research On Youth At Risk – St. Thomas University
This site contains several fact sheets on youth and crime which focus on the restorative justice approach, crime prevention, risk factors, victims, and myths.

Civics Canada Online Textbook
This online textbook produced by The Civics Channel is available for personal use. (A licence is required for institutional or school use.) Chapter 10 contains information, statistics and links relating to the justice system and courts.

CourtPrep Interactive Virtual Courtroom
This interactive website enables students to learn about the various roles of participants in the court process.


Famous Trials: The Trial of Louis Riel
A collection of information around this historic trial. From a selection of Famous Trials by Douglas O. Linder at the University Of Missouri – Kansas City School Of Law.

Try Judging
This multimedia educational program produced by judges is designed for integration into high school social studies, civics and law courses. “Try Judging introduces students to the role of judges within our judicial system, and encourages exploration of important concepts such as the rule of law, judicial independence and judicial impartiality.” The site contains downloadable student and teacher resources, videos, and interactive content.