Dalhousie University

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology





Prof.: Dr. Julian Hermida

Course number: 3281

Teaching hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11.35-12.55

Term: Winter

Office: Room 2117 (FASS Building)

Tel.: 494-6284

Office hours:††† Tuesdays from 4.45 to 5.45 pm and Thursdays from 5.30 to 6.30 pm or by appointment.

Email address: julian.hermida@dal.ca





This course deals with criminal offenses committed by young persons. Etiologies drawn from various disciplines are examined and evaluated. A secondary focus concerns the criminal justice system as it applies to young offenders.

The course also aims at helping students develop critical thinking, research, and writing skills.





       Knowledge is a constantly evolving process, which can be constructed personally and collectively.

       From an individual perspective, knowledge is personal, socially and historically contextualized, and dependent on psychological variables.

       From the class perspective, knowledge is a collective construction, where all participants can make their contribution.

       In the process of constructing knowledge, there is a dialectic relationship between action and reflection, where one feeds the other and vice versa.

       Successful learning is based on a personal involvement of students in their own learning.

       The learning environment, including the teaching methods, the teacherís attitude, and the class atmosphere, among other factors, is determinative of the studentsí approach to learning, as well as, the learning outcomes.

          The role of the teacher is that of a facilitator and tutor rather than a lecturer.

          Student peers are a powerful source of learning.

          Evaluation is conceived mainly as formative.




This course is conceived so that students can:


1.    Analyze criminal offenses committed by young persons.

1.1 Understand and critically evaluate the nature and number of criminal offenses committed by young persons.

1.2. Analyze and critically evaluate the concept of criminal offenses that young persons commit most frequently in Canada.



2.        Critically evaluate the major theories dealing with the causes of young personsí criminality.

2.1. Analyze the basic theories of crime specifically conceived to explain young personsí criminality.

2.2. Analyze and critically evaluate criminological theories applied to young offenders.



3.        Understand and critically evaluate the youth criminal justice system.

3.1.   Analyze the main principles of the youth criminal justice system.

3.2.   Evaluate the main responses of the youth criminal justice system to young offenders.

3.3.   Understand sentencing, extrajudicial measures, and sanctions adopted for young offenders.


4.  Apply sociological theories of crime and criminal justice principles to a myriad of contemporary criminal and criminal justice problems involving young offenders.

4.1. Critically reflect on media reports and cultural products concerning young offendersí crime and the youth criminal justice system.





Deploy a range of advanced transferable skills, such as, oral and written communication skills, media literacy, the accurate exposition of complex arguments and sets of research findings, the critical evaluation of competing explanations or complex arguments relating to crime and public policy.




Classroom activities will be designed to encourage students to play an active role in the construction of their own knowledge and in the design of their own learning strategies.

We will combine traditional lectures with other active teaching methodologies, such as group discussions, cooperative group solving problems, analysis of video segments depicting scenes relevant to crime and criminal justice topics, debates, construction of web sites, and production of audiovisual materials. Class participation is a fundamental aspect of this course. Students will be encouraged to actively take part in all group activities and to give short oral group presentations throughout the course. Students will be expected to interact with media resources, such as, web sites, videos, DVDs, and digital photography, etc. In line with the postulates of Writing Across the Curriculum, writing will be integrated in all class assignments.




Evaluation is conceived mainly as formative and feedback will be provided all throughout the course. While strictly respecting University, Faculty, and Department standards and policies, reasonable efforts will be made to include shared evaluation practices, i.e., a process where students have an active role in their own evaluation.


The evaluation of the studentsí achievement of the objectives of the course will be based on five main components: a presentation, a project, class participation/portfolio, and two mid term exams. The first midterm exam accounts for 30% of the final grade. The second midterm exam accounts for 20% of the final grade. The presentation accounts for 15%, class participation/portfolio accounts for 20%, and the project accounts for 15% of the final grade.


Successful attainment of objectives depends mainly on class attendance and active class participation.




Students will discuss and propose good-faith questions for each of the exams based on the topics dealt with in the course. If the questions have a general consensus they will be part of a test bank. The exams will only contain questions that have been included in the test bank. The exams may contain additional bonus questions not included in the test bank. However, not answering the bonus question or not answering the bonus question correctly will not imply any deduction of marks. The bonus question may only increase studentsí grade or not affect it at all.


Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: The definitive evaluation criteria for the exams will be given to the students once the test bank has been completed. In general, however, a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to obtain full grade for each question in the exam. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions. The value of each evaluation criterion will also be given once the test bank for each exam is completed.



1.         Did you answer the question comprehensively? Are all relevant problems discussed? Was the answer readable and well organized? Did you make connections between issues discussed in your answer? Did your answer show an understanding of the topic dealt with?

2.         Did your answer discuss problems by reference to theoretical issues learned during the course? Did your answer show an understanding of the appropriate readings or class discussions? Did your answer show an understanding of the discussions and issues arisen in class? Did your answer make reference to class discussions, activities, and readings?

3.         Is there a critical personal assessment of the topic discussed? Does the personal assessment show some originality?




Students are expected to actively participate in every class with a positive attitude and to treat their classmates and instructor with respect. Their participation must make a positive impact on the class activities. Students are expected to be prepared for every class. Class attendance is a prerequisite to obtain the corresponding percentage of the grade under the class participation-portfolio category. Many class activities will include the writing of short essays.


Students are expected to create a portfolio to record all class assignments. Each portfolio will include, at least, the following materials: (i) a title page and a table of contents; and (ii) all class activities, including one minute papers, small group activities, proposals for the test banks made in class, and short essays.


A major prerequisite for the creation of a good portfolio is active participation in every class assignment. The deadline to hand in the portfolio is March 29, 2007 in class.


Passing requirements and scale of evaluation:a positive response must be given to the following questions in to obtain the maximum grade within this evaluation component. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each student.


  1. Does the student actively participate in every class?
  2. Does the student show a positive attitude toward his or her classmates, the instructor, and the activities?
  3. Is the student prepared for every class? 
  4. Does the student volunteer to lead activities, debates or debriefs?
  5. Is the portfolio complete? Does it contain all activities made in class and all required components?Is there evidence that each of the activities was completed when discussed in class? Does the portfolio evidence the studentís active engagement with the activities?
  6. Are the responses to the activities creative, original, and intellectually challenging?Is there reference to theoretical issues and problems discussed in class?



PRESENTATION: Formative Unconventional Non-PowerPoint presentation


The oral presentation is an essential part of the course. Students will select a topic from a list of options distributed on the first class. Students will conduct the presentations in groups made up of 4 or 5 students each.


Students are expected to research about the topic and to read from several sources for the presentation.

The total length of the presentation should not exceed 30 minutes. Students are strongly encouraged Ėbut not obliged to- follow this format and structure. First, there should be a brief (10í or less) introduction to the topic. Students will be encouraged to choose a focus and an angle through which they can deal with the selected topic, i.e., they will be expected to select an aspect of the problem, preferably a debatable, unresolved or topical one, and analyze it through their own -rather than otherís- perspective. Students are strongly discouraged to use PowerPoint slides and students may not read from slides or notes. Second, students should plan an activity (15í or less) so that those not presenting can actively participate. Activities should be original, entertaining, and formative. They should principally let students apply the topic presented to different situations. There should be a conclusion and time for questions or comments (5í or less). Additionally, students will have to select an article Ėpreferably one available electronically- a web site, create notes or find another source of information for the rest of the students to read about the topic. The selected source of information must treat the topic comprehensively.


The oral presentation requires extensive preparation throughout the term. During the preparation of the presentation, students are welcome to meet with the professor for consultation, suggestions and feedback on the evolution of the presentation. Students will have to pass in an outline of the presentation to the professor at least one week prior to the presentation. The outline will be discussed and the professor will provide feedback and further guidelines. Students are expected to hand in a revised version of the presentation. During the presentation, the professorís role will be limited to listening passively. The rest of the class must actively participate in the presentation as an active audience. The professor will provide feedback in writing after the presentation is over.


Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to approve the presentation. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each presentation. All these criteria have the same value.


1.        Does the presentation deal with the assigned topic? Does the presentation show an understanding of topic dealt with? Does the presentation show a clear, coherent, and comprehensive treatment of the selected topic? Has the presentation followed the required formalities, particularly those regarding the no-reading requirement?

2.        Does the presentation integrate knowledge acquired throughout the course? Is there an effective and original integration of knowledge acquired throughout the course?

3.        Is there a critical and original personal assessment of the topic presented?

4.        Does the presentation include an activity for the audience? Is the activity original, entertaining, and formative? Has the activity engaged the active participation of the audience or have the students engaged the audience throughout the presentation? Does the activity permit students to apply the concepts, theories or other issues dealt with in the presentation?

5.        Have the students selected an adequate article, a web site or another source of information that comprehensively deals with the topic of the presentation for the other students?





The purpose of the project is to examine the relationship between the formal rules and principles governing the youth criminal justice court process, and the theoretical issues analyzed in class. The project requires observation, description, and analysis of a youth court proceeding. The students must hand in a report with their observations and analysis. The deadline is March 6, 2007 in class.



Passing requirements and scale of evaluation: a positive response must be given to the following questions in order to approve the project. The criteria are formulated in the form of questions which the teacher will ask with respect to each project.


1.        Did the student observe a youth court process as required?

2.        Does the report show an understanding of the observed process? Does the report show a clear, coherent, and comprehensive analysis of the observed process?

3.        Does the report make connections to knowledge acquired throughout the course? Does it make reference to theories, debates, and problems discussed in class?

4.        Is there a critical personal assessment of the observed process?







Percentage Grade Value

Grade Point Value







Considerable evidence of original thinking; demonstrated outstanding capacity to analyze and synthesize; outstanding grasp of subject matter; evidence of extensive knowledge base.











Evidence of grasp of subject matter, some evidence of critical capacity and analytical ability; reasonable understanding of relevant issues; evidence of familiarity with the literature.











Evidence of some understanding of the subject matter; ability to develop solutions to simple problems; benefiting from his/her university experience.










Marginal Pass

Evidence of minimally acceptable familiarity with subject matter, critical and analytical skills (except in programs where a minimum grade of `C' is required).





Insufficient evidence of understanding of the subject matter; weakness in critical and analytical skills; limited or irrelevant use of the literature.








Neutral and no credit obtained

Withdrew after deadline




Neutral and no credit obtained

Compassionate reasons, illness






This is a tentative calendar of readings and class activities. If class discussions or class activities take longer than originally estimated because everybody gets involved, they will not be cut short to follow this schedule of readings. They will simply be put off for the following class or rescheduled. Additionally, the teacher may substitute new topics for some of the ones included in this schedule, particularly if most students show an interest for some topics not planned to be covered. Changes to this schedule, including changes of midterm dates, will be announced in class and posted on the course website.




Jan. 4

Introduction and orientation

Jan. 9

Youth Criminal Justice process

Concept of crime

Jan. 11


Sex crimes

Adolescent sex offenders

Jan. 16


Sex crimes

Adolescent sex offenders

Jan. 18


Criminology theories applied to young persons


Jan. 23


Youth Justice strategies. The Youth Criminal Justice Act. Principles and rights in the YCJA.

Jan. 25


Crime organization

Participation in crimes

Jan. 30


Criminology theories applied to youth

Feb. 1


Extrajudicial measures

Extrajudicial sanctions: Diversion: Restorative Justice


Adult sentencing

Feb. 6


School violence and hazing

Youth crime victims


Feb. 8


Review for midterm

Feb. 1.3



Feb. 15


Student presentation #1

Student presentation# 2

Feb. 27 and March 1


March 6


Vandalism and other property crimes

March 8


Student presentation # 3

Student presentation # 4

March 13


Assault and other violent crimes. Street racing


March 15


School shootings

Zero tolerance

March 20


Student presentation # 5:

Student presentation# 6

March 22

Youth corrections

March 27

Review for midterm

March 29



April 3

Student presentation # 7:

Student presentation # 8:

April 5






          Young Offenders and Youth Justice: A Century after the Fact, 3rd edition by Sandra Bell (Toronto: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2007).





A web site for the course is available at http://www.julianhermida.com Students will be able to consult the course outline, test banks, class notes, and other useful information.

All important announcements, such as exam dates, presentation dates, reading assignments, and deadlines are given in class and will not appear on the web site.




None of the activities imply interviewing or interacting with human beings outside the classroom. However, if students want to interview or interact with people for any of these activities please contact the teacher well in advance to comply with ethics requirements.




In these large classes, it is sometimes difficult to get to know each and every one of my students. So, I would like to meet personally with as many of you as possible during the term. Please come see me during my office hours. I am available not only for class help but also for other academic-related issues, such as writing letters of reference or helping with prospective graduate studies. I want to be available to answer questions for all students. So, in addition to regular office hours and seeing me by appointment, I will every so often end class early, and invite students who have questions to meet with me right then and there. Also note that if access to the second floor is barred after 5 PM, please call me from downstairs and I will go down and let you in.


Students with Disabilities 

There are various university polices and procedures regarding university student disability issues.  Student Accessibility Services handles the process of identifying students with disabilities, the types of accommodations appropriate for each student, and helps provide those accommodations.  For example, if you have a student in your class who needs special equipment, space or time for an exam, SAS supervises the exam at their office in the Killam. Either the SAS office or the student will contact you and provide the information you need. For more information consult the SAS website at http://www.dal.ca/~services/ssd.html#learnproc.  

Student Accessibility Services asks faculty to include the following statement in their course outlines: 

"Students with disabilities should register as quickly as possible at Student Accessibility Services if they want to receive academic accommodations.  To do so please phone 494_2836, e_mail <disabilities@da.ca>, or drop in at the Killam, G28." 


Plagiarism has become a serious problem at all universities.  Essay assignments that allow for easy online purchase or online copying pose a particular problem. Faculty are encouraged to design their written essay assignments in a way that limits plagiarism possibilities. (See the very helpful website http://plagiarism.dal.ca for information, advice and policy on plagiarism.)