Matter of Course: Student-Led Research Addresses the Barriers of Canada’s Youth Justice System
Child and Youth Studies Research Day at Trent University Durham spotlights fourth-year research
CHYS 4001: Youth Justice and Youth Offending
Dr. Christine Goodwin-De Faria, Child & Youth Studies
Research projects that look at systemic barriers and other contributing factors to involvement in the youth criminal justice system were the focus of Child & Youth Studies (CHYS) Research Day at Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area. “Students taking a critical look at the youth justice system in Canada allows them to hone in on areas of further research and can help inform their career path,” said Dr. Christine Goodwin-De Faria, assistant professor in Child and Youth Studies, who organized the event for students in her fourth-year Youth Justice and Youth Offending course (CHYS 4001). “Most of all, learning to see problems and potential solutions enables them to enter the workforce as a force for positive change.”
26 students had the opportunity to share their research, and spoke passionately about how they decided on a research topic. Some students used the opportunity to build knowledge and prepare for an active career supporting youth in the justice system, while others focused on intersections between the youth justice system and other sectors involving working with children and youth. All found that the research they had done prepared them better for the reality of working to solve the complex problems and provide more effective supports when they enter the workforce.
Preparing for an impactful career
Rebecca Currie, a fourth-year CHYS student, hopes her research will prepare her for a future career. “I’m interested in working in the justice system in the future,” said Rebecca. “My research interests stem from wanting to understand better how youth get involved in the justice system and then working backwards to figure out how I can help prevent them from being fully involved.”
The work of undergraduate researchers plays an important role at Trent University Durham GTA and make a significant impact in the local community. Students gain experience identifying challenges in their field of study and perform critical analyses to uncover potential solutions or further aspects of future study.
Community research projects involving undergraduate students, faculty researchers, and community members allow for Trent Durham to partner with local organizations to solve practical problems and instill a sense of civic responsibility and engagement into student researchers, as well as provide experience dealing with complex situations, presenting and communicating ideas effectively, and dealing with stakeholder needs.
Foundations for further studies
Ayesha Malik, a fourth-year student pursuing a joint major in Psychology and CHYS, focused her research on how young girls navigate the adult male-centric justice system in order to prepare for future graduate studies.
“I used to think that the justice system was designed in a way to improve society, but the more I look at it, I see a lot of shortcomings present in the system – inequalities [that are both] gender- and racially-based.” said Ayesha. “It’s very hard to find sources, especially Canadian ones. What I want to do is to make a contribution to the literature that exists and make more academic studies available to people like me who are interested in the topic.”
Ayesha plans to start her master’s degree in Criminology next year.
Learn more about the Child and Youth Studies program at Trent Durham.