Addressing Youth Crime & Issues

Bullying, drug use, gangs, online safety, and their mental health. Pre-teens and teens have so much to face that it can become overwhelming. And with the rising exposure to social media and crime in their rural neighbourhoods, these issues are almost unavoidable. It can also have serious and long-term implications for the younger generation. However, they do not have to deal with these issues alone. 

Whether it is their parents, teachers, friends or neighbours, a community is here to support youths. Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association is one part of that community that wants to provide pre-teens, teens, and their parents with the resources to face and prevent these issues. Information is available from Alberta Rural Crime Watch, our partners, and youth organizations.

Bullying

Seven out of ten youths experience some form of bullying. Bullying is when someone uses their power to harm another person. The child being bullied can feel scared, alone, or uncomfortable. Verbal, physical, and social bullying still occur within schools and groups. However, with youths using technology such as phones and computers more, cyberbullying has become common.

Bullying can be a difficult topic for children and adults. Children may feel embarrassed or worried about the backlash if they approach an adult for help. However, if left alone, bullying can have serious mental and physical effects. 

The ones doing the bullying need support as well. There is help for children and their guardians to stop bullying.

Youth Crime

Crime committed by youths is a prevalent issue within all communities. The International Youth Survey found that 37% of youths have committed criminal acts, including violence, property damage or theft, or possessing or distributing drugs. They are continually exposed to violence and crime within their community, home and the media. Society is almost creating cultural norms that support criminal and gang behaviour. 

When children and teens commit crimes, it can lead to harsh futures, such as mental health issues, their education and careers suffering and even physical injury. Together, we can create a brighter future for the youths in our rural communities by creating a space where they don’t feel they need to turn to crime.

Drug Prevention

Drugs and substances are readily available for children and youths to access. There is alcohol, marijuana, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine. Recently, vaping tobacco and marijuana has become more popular. Youths turn to drugs for different reasons, such as peer pressure and mental health issues. 

Whether you are a parent, guardian or teacher, talking to children about drugs is not the easiest thing. However, having the information on how to start those conversations and the knowledge about substances is a great first step in preventing children and teens from turning to drugs. 

Mental Health Support & Suicide Prevention

From ADD and eating disorders to anxiety and depression, youths can experience significant mental health issues. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 10–20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder. Sometimes, they bottle up their concerns and symptoms, or adults aren’t able to identify the signs. Unidentified and untreated mental health issues can impact their ability to learn and socialize, and their self-esteem. For some children, untreated mental health problems lead to suicide. To keep the children of our communities healthy, we should remain knowledgeable of the different mental health issues, their signs and when to seek help.

Online Safety

Children and teens use the Internet to talk with friends, do their schoolwork, and look for entertainment. While they may know how to use emails, chat websites and social media platforms, they need to learn how to use them safely. Scammers, criminals and other individuals with bad intentions may be putting your child at risk. Kids could be tricked into sharing their personal information, youths could stumble across inappropriate content, or they may experience cyberbullying. 

It is important for parents and guardians to provide children with the resources and knowledge to safely navigate the world wide web. 

Child Abuse

Some of the most vulnerable members of our communities are children. They can be subject to physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and sexual abuse. Because of their young age and lack of understanding of what is happening, they do not know how to respond or how to get help. Resources are available for both children and adult members of our community about child abuse, the signs and help that is available. The quicker the signs are identified, the faster a child can seek help and support.