Young People

9. When can young people get a driver’s licence?
Young people over 16 years old can get a driver’s licence if they pass the required tests. Parents have to apply for a licence for someone under 19. If young people under 18 years old get a car, they can’t register or get licence plates for it unless their parents sign the papers. A young person driving a car has the same responsibilities as an adult. Sometimes young drivers break traffic rules. What happens to the youth depends on how serious their actions are, but if youth are caught driving dangerously, it is serious. They will be charged with a criminal offence and have to go to youth court.

10. What happens to youth who break the law?
The law says children under 12 years old can’t be arrested or taken to court. If the police catch children younger than 12 doing something wrong, they take them home and tell their parents. The parents may get help at school or in the community. There is a special law for children from 12 to 17 years old. It is called the Youth Criminal Justice Act ( According to the law young people have the same legal rights as adults. The police have to tell young people about their rights and explain what is happening to them. If a young person commits a serious crime, for example, they are caught in possession of a weapon such as a knife or gun, then he or she will have to go to youth court. People 18 years old or older who break the law are adults and have to go to adult court.
Source: Youth criminal law

11. How can I find out if my child has joined a gang?
Some young people join gangs. The following are common behaviour changes of youths who are becoming involved with gangs:
•Withdrawing from the family.
•Declining school attendance.
•Speaking in gang style slang.
•Running in and out of the house for a short period of time.
•Hiding stolen items in their homes.
•Displaying an unusual desire for secrecy and protectiveness in guarding their rooms
If you think that your son or daughter is becoming involved in a gang, talk with school officials, counsellors, police officers, or a youth or family crisis line.

12. What is youth court?
Ontario’s youth justice system is separate from the adult system. When a youth breaks the law, police use the Youth Criminal Justice Act to decide what to do. Young people don’t go to the same court as adults. There is a special youth court. The judge in youth court will make sure young people are provided with a lawyer. The parents of the offender and lawyer can be present at the trial. There are lawyers who do business in youth court for free.
The judge might:
•make the young person pay a fine,
•make the young person pay for damage with money or with work,
•have the young person do some volunteer work in the community,
•let the young person go home, but someone from the court will check on the young person for up to two years, or
•have the young person go to jail if the crime is serious.
In the last case, the youth will have a youth record; however, this record will be cleared when they reach the age of majority.

13. When can youth get income assistance?
If you are under 19 years old and not living with your parents, you can apply for income assistance. Before you can get income assistance, the government will have to be convinced that your parents will not or cannot support you. You will be sent to see a family worker, who will look into that. If your parents are willing to support you at home and there are no concerns about your safety at home, you will not be able to get income assistance. If you do apply for income assistance you have to follow the same rules as an adult who is applying. That means you have to have an "employment plan”. But usually the plan for a youth applicant will focus on finishing high school. If you are eligible to receive income assistance, it’s important to keep in mind that the amount of money you get will be quite small.

14. How can I help newcomer youth avoid trouble?
Newcomer youth experience many challenges when adjusting to life in Canada. According to Dr. Anthony Hutchinson there are six things that newcomer parents can do to keep their kids happy and safe.
1. Take notice of what your children are going through themselves and take an interest in their activities, because gangs look for young immigrants who don’t speak English. They look for people who have few friends and not much money.
2. Keep in touch with their teachers and stay on top of schoolwork.
3. Take English as second language classes in order to keep up with your children.
4. Participate in activities outside of the home and school that affect the community.
5. Consider a number of programs at settlement agencies in your location that have youth and counselling programs to help you.
6. Let your children know that you are working through this difficult time and looking for better opportunities.
Source: 6 strategies to keep newcomer youth safe

15. Where can I find sources of additional information about young people in Canada?
Young People and the Law
Under 18 and on your own: Getting social assistance
Legal services for young people
Online community for newcomer youth
Youth Justice
Steering Kids Away From Gangs