Source: (1998) Canadian Journal of Criminology. 40(2): 127-152.

Underlying the currently harsh criticism of the YOA is a public perception that young people possess a sophisticated knowledge of the youth justice system that has allowed them to "beat the system". This study used questionnaire and semi-structured interview techniques to assess the knowledge of 730 10- to 17-year-old and young adult students from six Canadian cities concerning a number of YOA issues, including age boundaries, dispositions, procedures, youth court records, transfer to adult court, and roles of legal personnel. The study also included exploratory data on 30 young offenders from an open- custody facility in Toronto. Both groups demonstrated poor knowledge regarding the disposition of youth court records and critical age boundaries of the YOA. With respect to certain questions (e.g., the role of defense counsel), the pattern of knowledge in young offenders was different from the students and appeared to reflect young offenders' direct experience with the legal system. Age and regional differences in students' knowledge emerged with respect to a number of issues. Tables, notes, references