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The Direct and Indirect Impacts of Organized Crime on Youth, as Offenders and Victims

This project was undertaken to explore, and provide information about, an issue or topic. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or the Government of Canada.


Holly Richter-White, M.A.
Research and Evaluation Branch
Community, Contract and Aboriginal Policing Services Directorate
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Ottawa, March, 2003

The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Government of Canada.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • The Current State of Research on Organized Crime and Youth
    The overall difficulties in researching and defining organized crime
    Difficulties in researching organized crime and youth
  • The Direct and Indirect Impacts of Organized Crime on Youth -
    Commodities and Activities
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol Tobacco
  • Vehicle theft
  • Terrorism / Narco-terrorism
  • Human Smuggling and Child Sexual Exploitation (Prostitution and Pornography)
  • Youth Gangs
  • Gambling
  • Fraud
  • Corporate Organized Crime
  • Money Laundering
  • Internet, Computers and Software
  • The Direct and Indirect Impacts of Organized Crime on Youth - Perception and Police Resource Allocation
  • Direct Perception of Organized Crime
  • Indirect Perception of Organized Crime
  • Police Resource Allocation
  • Unintended Effects on Youth Resulting from Police Resource Allocation
  • Police Resource Culture and Tools
  • Police Resources and Demand Reduction
  • Vulnerable Youth Populations
  • Young Children
  • Aboriginal Youth and Visible Minority Youth
  • Gender Differences: Male Youth and Female Youth
  • Future Research and Policy Implications
  • References

Executive Summary

The impact of organized crime on children and youth is both broad and direct, and yet often indirect. One of the major impacts organized crime has on youth is their recruitment into criminal activity. This is, however, only one part of the broader impact on youth. There are other areas that can directly or indirectly impact youth, many of which are felt at the local community level. These impacts will be discussed throughout this paper.

The issues explored in this report for their possible impact on youth include drugs, alcohol, tobacco, vehicle theft, terrorism, human smuggling and child sexual exploitation, youth gangs, gambling, fraud, corporate organized crime, money laundering, the Internet, computers and software, corporate organized crime, perception of organized crime, police resource allocation, and vulnerable youth populations.

Research pertaining to organized crime though is hampered by several factors. The first is the lack of a universally accepted definition of organized crime. Secondly, due to the nature of organized crime, data is generally gathered through non-scientific methods including police reports and interviews, details learned through informants, and interviews with justice and corrections personnel and so on. Secondary information is used to help form government and policy decisions in the absence of available academic data.

Future research on organized crime’s impacts on youth could include various perception issues, and a focus on data collection. Ethnography could also help illuminate some of the impacts. New policy is also needed for the internal and external communication of the local impacts of organized crime, data entry and police resources related to business lines and supply and demand reduction.

To obtain an electronic copy of the complete report (PDF), please send a request by e-mail to the Research and Evaluation Section (Community, Contract and Aboriginal Policing Services) of the RCMP