Protection of a Young Person's Privacy

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The Youth Criminal Justice Act or YCJA governs how Canada deals with young persons in trouble with the law. This Act protects the rights of youth, including the right to privacy.

Protection of privacy helps prevent the youth from being labeled as an offender. Lawmakers believe this gives a young person a better chance of getting back on the right track. In most cases, it is against the law for anyone to publish:

  • the name of a young person charged with or found guilty of an offence, or
  • any information that could let the public identify who the young person is.

When can authorities publicize a youth’s name?

Following are some situations in which the publication of a youth’s name is permitted under the YCJA:

  • The youth is found guilty and receives an adult sentence.
  • The youth receives a youth sentence for a violent offence and the court determines that there is a high risk the youth will commit another violent offence and lifting the publication ban is necessary to protect the public.
  • Where a youth alleged to have committed a crime is at large and the judge is satisfied that the youth presents a danger to others, and that publication is necessary to apprehend the youth.

Publicizing a youth’s name is not the same as providing access to a youth record. Publication is what happens if the young person’s trouble with the law is publicized through print, radio, television, social media or other electronic means. Access to a youth record is granted only to certain people involved in the youth justice system.

Who has access to youth records?

To protect a young person’s privacy and give them a better chance at getting back on track, there are tight controls on access to youth records. Youth records must be kept confidential. Only people working in the youth justice system who need to see these records to do their jobs are allowed access. Some examples of such people are youth court workers, police and correctional agencies. These officials are not allowed to share what is in a youth record with anyone else unless specifically authorized by the YCJA.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence Consequences of a Youth Record © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.