Social inclusion and safety are central to creating a cohesive society and a strong economy that enable future growth and prosperity. Ontario is one of the most diverse places in the world.
We want our young people to be included and valued for who they are. In turn, we want them to value diversity and support inclusion in their communities. Young people must be safe, included and accepted, to develop successfully into adulthood.
What outcomes do we want to see for Ontario youth?
Why is this important?
When young Ontarians are safe and supported at home, school, work, online and in their communities, they are able to develop successfully into adulthood.
Supporting Ontario's young people to feel safe, included and accepted contributes to overall community safety. Social inclusion and safety are central to creating a cohesive society and a strong economy that will secure our future prosperity and growth.
13. How can we support social inclusion for Ontario youth?
We can help support social inclusion for Ontario youth by:
- Instilling respect for diversity and equity: We can promote diversity and equity by providing opportunities for Ontario's young people to develop an appreciation of and respect for the differences of others.
- Providing culturally-appropriate supports: Research indicates that creating an environment that is safe and accepting and that allows youth to recognize their cultural strengths and differences supports positive outcomes. Ontario's programs, services, communities and institutions have an opportunity to support a sense of belonging by developing specific social inclusion and diversity policies for youth who are most at-risk.
- Removing accessibility barriers: Youth with disabilities, or special needs or mental health barriers have the same needs for participation as their peers. We know that some youth with disabilities face stigma and other barriers to education, work, services and opportunities that support positive development. While their disability may not impact their development, research indicates that the way in which peers and adults interact with youth who have a disability may affect the number and quality of their social experiences.
14. How can we help Ontario’s youth feel safe in their environments?
We can help Ontario’s youth feel safe in their environments by:
- Promoting safety at home: Being safe at home involves having a home environment that is physically healthy and clean. Ontario youth who are in need of safe housing may experience exposure to hazardous materials, lack access to safe water and food, or be homeless.
- Promoting safety at school: Feeling unsafe at school can involve exposure to violence – including gun violence, physical fights, abuse or bullying. Ensuring Ontario's schools are safe is important to so students can learn and be healthy. We know that feeling unsafe, can impact academic achievement and lead to emotional challenges including risk of self-harm.
- Promoting safety online: Evidence indicates that young people are facing an increased risk of victimization through online activities. As technology changes, young people can no longer rely on their home to be a safe place where bullies cannot reach them.
- Promoting safety in communities: Having access to safe places to socialize impacts youth confidence, health and positive development. More Ontario youth can achieve positive outcomes when schools, communities and governments work together to ensure young people have safe places to go.
15. How can we support young people to avoid involvement with the justice system, make positive contributions, and get back on track if they face setbacks?
We can support young people to avoid involvement with the justice system, make positive contributions to their communities, and get back on track if they face setbacks by:
- Intervening early to support youth at risk: Early intervention and crime prevention involves identifying and addressing young people's risk factors for participating in crime, as well as protective factors.
- Using effective approaches to prevent crime: We know that place-based approaches are effective in addressing the causes of youth violence. Youth in disadvantaged communities may experience multiple barriers to success and benefit from programs targeted to where they live, including those that provide safe spaces for youth to go.
- Improving relationships between communities and police: We know that many youth and families, especially those living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, do not feel they have positive relationships with police and law enforcement. Improving the important relationships between communities and police has been cited as a key step in reducing youth violence and addressing racism and discrimination in several key reports.
- Supporting youth to get back on track: When young people come into conflict with the law, they need to be held accountable for their actions. They also need to be provided effective programs and reintegration support so they can get back on track with their lives and reduce their chances of re-offending.