Tough on Kids
Release Date:01 Sep 2003
Release Date:01 Sep 2003

Tough on Kids

Rethinking Approaches to Youth Justice

UBC Press, Purich Publishing

“If you’re shoplifting, and you are on probation, you are going to jail. More rules. Everytime I go to jail, I see the same people in there. … All I learned how to do was B & E’s and stealing cars … a fast way to get cash. That’s all I know how to do.” – A young offender, as quoted in the book.

Does our current system for dealing with young offenders – which focuses on punishment – work? Not according to the authors of this compelling and thought-provoking book. It simply ensures that we jail more youth than any other country, including the United States. Green and Healy argue that a new approach is needed and offer ample evidence from around the world, and our own back yard, to make the case for a shift to restorative justice. The voices of their young clients illustrate the very real human costs of doing nothing. Topics covered include: causes of youth crime; special circumstances facing Aboriginal youth; fetal alcohol syndrome and effect; restorative justice techniques; innovations used in England, Australia, and New Zealand; Quebec – an example of restorative justice in practice, as well as other innovative approaches including the Calgary Community Conferencing program; theories about crime and punishment; and the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

This book is a must read for anyone – including counselors, social workers, lawyers, judges, educators – who is concerned about youth crime and justice. In an easy to read format this book presents the development and current state of Canadian law, as well as different approaches that have been used in dealing with youth crime. Regardless of one’s view on youth crime, this book is packed with useful information, viewpoints, and statistics on young people and the law.


  • 2003, Shortlisted - Publishing Award, Saskatchewan Book Awards
  • 2003, Winner - Scholarly Writing Award, Saskatchewan Book Award
  • 2003, Shortlisted - Non-Fiction Award, Saskatchewan Book Awards
Relatively free of jargon, this is an impassioned plea for us to do something different in youth justice. Winnipeg Free Press

Ross Green practiced as a defence lawyer in rural Saskatchewan for many years. In 2004, he was appointed a judge of the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan in 2004. He holds a degree in commerce, a Bachelor of Laws degree, and a Master of Laws degree. Tough on Kids was awarded the Saskatchewan Book Awards prize for scholarly writing. Green is also author of Justice in Aboriginal Communities: Sentencing Alternatives (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 2000).

Kearney Healy holds a B.A. and LL.B, and has dealt extensively with young offenders as a legal aid lawyer in Saskatoon, Saksatchewan. He continues to advocate on behalf of youth as well as other social justice issues. Tough on Kids was awarded the Saskatchewan Book Awards prize for scholarly writing.


1. Perspectives on Youth Justice
Marginalized Children - Scars and Redemption
Tough on Crime = Tough on Kids
The Effect of Jail on Kids
"The Way to Live Together Most Nicely"

2. Youth Justice Legislation
The Evolution of Canadian Youth Offender Legislation
The New Youth Criminal Justice Act

3. Youth Crime: Causes and Responses
The Causes of Youth Crime
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Criminal Justice as a Default System

4. Aboriginal Youth and the Justice System
Aboriginal History from a Different Perspective
Aboriginal Youth and the Criminal Justice System

5. International Comparisons of Youth Justice Systems
New Zealand
Connecting International Trends to the Canadian situation

6. Perspectives on Youth Justice
The Punitive Mentality
The Effects of Custody
Public Perceptions about Youth Crime Versus Reality

7. A Different Response: Restorative Justice
The Overreaching Effect of Criminal Law
A New Means of victim, Offender, and community Participation
Finding a Place for Restorative Justice in the Current System
The Challenges Facing Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment
Spirituality and Justice
Case Study: Calgary Community Conferencing

8. Progressive Approaches to Youth Crime and Justice
Quebec - A Study in Contrast
Mentoring and Role Modelling
Interdisciplinary and Interagency Approaches to Youth Justice
Resiliency and Marginalized Youth: Bottling the Magic
Jumping out of the Box: Effecting Change within the Youth Justice System

9. Future Directions for the Youth Justice System


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