Checking our understanding of a problem

Before we assess the merits of one solution or another, it is important to ask ourselves if an issue really is a problem.

Is youth crime really on the rise in Canada?  According to one report from Statistics Canada, “The rate of youth accused of homicide decreased substantially for the second consecutive year in 2008.” 

GRAPH. Youth accused of crime, police-reported rate, Canada, 1998 to 2008

Another report from Statistics Canada, published just one year later, offered a somewhat different interpretation: “Youth crime severity has generally been declining since 2001. The 2009 youth CSI dropped 2% from 2008 and was 7% lower than in 1999. The youth violent CSI remained stable in 2009; however, it was 10% higher than a decade earlier.”

GRAPH. Police-reported youth Crime Severity Indexes, Canada, 1999 to 2009

According to Graph A, rates of youth crime are decreasing or remaining stable while Graph B suggests that rates of violent crime among youth are increasing. Issues are not always clear-cut and straightforward.

Image sources: graphs

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