This morning, there is a Canadian Press news story about Winnipeg police arresting a 10-year-old boy who has set nearly three dozen fires in the city. Furthermore, the police have no option to pursue criminal charges against this young criminal because his is less than 12 years old.
This is completely unacceptable and outrageous. The youth exemption was put in place in the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) to prevent children from being charged when they cannot differentiate between right and wrong in their actions. Any child who sets more than 30 fires using Molotov cocktails is no doe-eyed innocent deserving of protection. This is deliberate, premeditated, and habitual criminal activity and it should be treated as such.
While I do concede that some youth crime is the result of youthful exuberance or getting accidentally and temporarily caught up with the wrong group of friends, a great deal of results from repeat and violent young offenders. Despite their age, these criminals are no different than an adult committing the same crime.
I firmly believe that it is time for the government to introduce substantive amendments to the YCJA in order to properly address youth crime in Canada. We need our laws to recognize and reflect the current realities of young offenders in Canada.
What do you think on this issue? Agree? Disagree? Suggestions?