Values, Influence, and Peers
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The Values, Influence, and Peers program is available in all of Ontario's public elementary schools to remind them about peer pressure, shoplifting, vandalism, and other crimes committed by young offenders.
The program is used to inform students in the sixth grade when this type of behavior begins to emerge with adolescent rebellion. Videos are shown (either on VHS or DVD) and trips are made to courtrooms to watch actual trials in progress so kids learn about the justice system. Mock trials are used if the caseload for the local courts is slow that day. The Youth Criminal Justice Act (formerly known as the Young Offenders Act) is studied in great detail.
The program can be delayed for that particular student until the year of his/her graduation (which would be around his/her 14th birthday) if he is taking special education. Then he/she must take the course in order to graduate elementary school. This step could be taken for maturity reasons or to assure that the student has the proper attention span needed to pay attention to the course material since the course has a deeper context than most other elementary school courses. Roleplaying and mock scenarios are used to see whether students would break the law or not by "pretending" to offer them drugs, cigarettes, help them shoplift, or to help them commit grand theft auto or vandalism. Like all elementary school courses, it lasts 45 minutes a day but the students can take these skills into high school and the rest of their adolescent lives. In addition to keeping children away from crime, the program also touches the subject of recreational drugs and their lethal effects on young people. The program aims to teach that drugs are not "cool," graduates eventually grow up to live happy and productive lives. They do so by learning to discriminate the drug pushers from the "normal" people.
The program was established in 1982 as a preventative measure and not as a scare tactic.
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