Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Touching Spirit Bear

Hello Everyone!

In class, we are reading the Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. This ties in with our current study focusing on the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Basically, this act specifically provides justice for youth who commit crimes. It differs from the existing Criminal Code of Canada because it recognizes the differences between adults and youth, their levels of maturity and the fact that youth are still developing. In the novel, Cole Matthews (the protagonist) is a troubled teen who has long been subjected to violence from his father. This reflects in his actions and he begins to do things that he later regrets.

The problem initially started when Peter Driscal told authorities that Cole broke into a store and vandalized. Cole, being a young boy with an abused mind, decides to take the situation and turn it into a physical fight. From this point on, Cole undergoes several different measures in process of deciding what the next step should be.

The story of his path to justice is one that reflects the importance of the Youth Criminal  Justice Act (YCJA), and gives an example that could help put it in perspective. In relation to the YCJA, there are similar programs that youth can experience on their path to justice. One of these include a Youth Justice Committee (or the Restorative Justice Program) in Canada where individuals from the community, victims affects, offender[s], and others related meet to determine reasonable consequences to resolve the issues that erupted. View my thoughts below!

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From what I have learned about Cole's story, it seems like a lot of his influence to commit such horrendous crimes were due to his family - specifically his father. Although all the blame cannot be sent to the family, Cole was not able to learn the right thing as he steered towards the wrong path in the beginning. The justice circle - where volunteers and people that have been affected meet - have discussions on how Cole could be successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. If I were a part of his justice circle, I would acknowledge his past seeing as his dad mistreated him for no good reason and his mom was not in a state to stop the abuse. To add on, Cole's achievements were never acknowledged either which indeed further broadened the issue. All these details would allow me to come to a conclusion that a harsh sentence or jail would not be able to resolve Cole's actual issue, meaning that more in-depth resolutions needed to be conducted. Things like sentencing his father, making Cole realize what he has done, allowing him to understand alternatives of dealing with his problems, etc. Currently, if Cole was sent to jail all that would happen is that he would continue to focus on his anger.

On the other hand, I agreed that Edwin and Garvey made the right decision to send Cole to that isolated island alone. Honestly, that was the point where Cole began to apprehend that what he did was wrong. It not only helped to heal is mind and spirit, but also directed him towards a more positive direction of life. For his rehabilitation and reintegration, even after he comes back from the island, he needs to be sent to anger-control programs and other related arrangements so that it is ensured he has the right help he needs!

I recommend the Touching Spirit Bear for all of those trying to understand how youth are treated in justice programs. Cole's story is sure unique, but reflects a lot about justice in reality.
Thanks for reading.
Maggie 

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