Criminal Justice (CRJS) 370

Youth Justice (Revision 2)

CRJS 370 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Sciences

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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CRJS 370 is not available for challenge.

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CRJS 370: Youth Justice is a three-credit, undergraduate-level course that takes a criminological approach to understanding Canada’s separate youth justice system. Young offenders receive special status under the law in Canada. How we respond to youth crime is important to society and, more broadly, to criminal justice. This course explores major theoretical perspectives that seek to explain the causes, nature, and processes of youth crime and delinquency and how the criminal justice system responds to them. Specifically, students examine what youth crime “looks like” in Canada and how it is measured for research purposes. The course also focuses on the historical development and policy shifts that have changed how the system handles young offenders. This includes an examination of police discretion with youth, sentencing, and the use of interventions and programming to prevent youth crime. Students learn about—and critically evaluate—the current debates and issues in youth justice: Are youth more violent today than in the past? Does increasing penalties reduce youth crime? Do crime prevention programs work? Can we effectively rehabilitate young offenders?

Course Objectives

When you have completed CRJS 370: Youth Justice, you should be able to:

  • Understand the historical, social, and political shifts that have influenced how youth justice systems operate in Canada.
  • Understand the theoretical perspectives used to explain the causes, nature, and processes of criminal behaviour and youth crime.
  • Appreciate the distinction between youth crime and youth justice.
  • Understand how we formally respond to youth crime.
  • Appreciate the social injustices perpetuated within the youth justice system.


CRJS 370 is divided into seven units:

  • Unit 1 – What Is a Youth Justice System and Why Do We Have a Separate System for Young People?
  • Unit 2 – Theoretical Explanations of Delinquency
  • Unit 3 – Understanding Youth Crime and Prevention
  • Unit 4 – Understanding Discretion and the Use of Diversion in Youth Justice
  • Unit 5 – Sentencing Young Offenders
  • Unit 6 – Social Justice Issues: Exploring the Social Context of Youth Crime and Justice
  • Unit 7 – The Future of Youth Justice


To receive credit for CRJS 370, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least a D (50 percent) and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 Research Paper Proposal 10%
Assignment 2 Case Study 20%
Assignment 3 Research Paper 30%
Final exam Multiple Choice Exam 40%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Bell, S. J. (2015). Young Offenders and Youth Justice: A Century After the Fact (5th ed.). Toronto: Nelson. (eText)

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Materials

All of the course materials for CRJS 370 are available online through the myAU portal. The textbook is available digitally and will be sent to you before your course start date.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, November 30, 2017.

View previous syllabus