The RCMP's Centre for Youth Crime Prevention exists to provide information to guide young people toward making better choices, and avoid ones that may have damaging consequences for themselves and those around them.
The Centre distributes a variety of free materials to those who work with youth aged 12 to 21.
We're a crime-prevention and learning hub," says Tessa Duc, who works in youth outreach for the Centre.
According to Duc, teachers and police officers who work directly with youth can use products like lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations, infographics, posters and brochures to raise awareness about issues such as bullying, drug and alcohol use, distracted and impaired driving, and online safety.
While teachers can use these materials to complement in-class instruction, police officers can use them to frame their own discussions. Duc says the content can help young people make informed decisions.
Getting the word out
Although the pandemic decreased requests for printed material, the youth centre received more than 2,000 requests from RCMP officers, educators and others looking for information in 2019.
According to Duc, the most requested topics focused on crime and victimization, specifically regarding the use of marijuana, fentanyl and other opioids; social media safety; distracted and impaired driving; and sexual consent.
Staff used online learning platforms throughout the pandemic to share ideas, play games, and keep young people engaged, even after returning to in-class learning.
Ideally, officers or teachers can deliver the material, but we're happy to assist them," says Duc.
Duc has already facilitated 19 sessions in 2021, during which, young people are encouraged to participate.
We're not just reading information," adds Duc. "
We're asking a lot of questions of the kids and the platforms we use offer them the opportunity to get involved and share their own experiences."
The Centre regularly consults the National Youth Advisory Committee – a group of 125 volunteers, aged 13 to 21 – and uses their shared experiences to inform the creation of the its products and initiatives related to crime and victimization.
They have their finger on the pulse of what's going on amongst young people and that information can expose gaps that could exist in our education curriculum and allow us an opportunity to develop new tools and products which could positively impact the lives of young Canadians," says Kyle Barber, the Centre's acting manager.
Findings from these consultations feed into the Centre's Youth Trends Report, which is produced four times a year. Police officers and educators frequently use them to inform and guide their work with youth.
For example, the 2021 report contains warnings about Covid-19 vaccination scams, unsafe online trends such as the "Blackout Challenge" or choking game, and a controversial website that connects men with young women for cash.
The reports' findings further inform upcoming RCMP initiatives on reconciliation with Indigenous people, vaping, mental health issues, and accepting and celebrating diversity.
One such initiative in development is a mentoring program, where 13 female officers will be paired with 13 young girls in their community.
Young girls face a lot of issues, just not having confidence, body image, and peer pressure," says Mylaine Gauvreau, a senior youth policy analyst at the Centre.
We want them to live a life to their best potential. I'm passionate about women's issues and helping young girls find positive female role models who will help them grow into confident young adults."
For more information about resources and programing at the Centre for Youth Crime Prevention, please send an email to CYCP_CPCJ@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.