Toronto’s young homeless are targets of crime

Almost three-quarters of homeless young people in Toronto say they have been the victim of multiple crimes, a new survey suggests, wrote CBC News online, and Sept. 28.

“Being homeless means constant exposure to dangerous people and places,” said the report, "Surviving Crime and Violence: Street Youth and Victimization in Toronto". It was released Monday.

While most criminal cases involve property, almost two-thirds of the people interviewed for the study said they have been the victim of a violent crime at least once. And more than three-quarters said they had been victimized in the past year, says the 2009 survey of 244 homeless young people aged 16 to 25.

That group is “perhaps the most victimized street youth population,” authors Stephen Gaetz, Bill O’Grady and Kristy Buccieri wrote. Gaetz is associate dean of research & field development in York University’s Faculty of Education, O’Grady is a sociology and anthropology professor at the University of Guelph, and Buccieri is a PhD student at York.

  • Homeless young people are victims of crime at rates that society would consider unacceptable for any other group, according to a new report by researchers at York University and the University of Guelph, wrote and Sept. 28.

The report highlights the degree to which it is street youth themselves − often perceived as delinquent and dangerous − who are vulnerable to crime and violence.

“The very people we are taught to fear are the ones who are most at risk,” said Professor Stephen Gaetz, associate dean of research & field development in York’s Faculty of Education.

Much has changed since Gaetz first wrote a report on homeless youth in Toronto, also for Justice for Children & Youth, seven years ago…. However, the report concludes federal, provincial and municipal governments should be addressing youth homelessness with an integrated strategy that includes: an adequate supply of supported, affordable housing for young people; efforts by health and mental health sectors, corrections and child welfare services to ensure their practices do not contribute to homelessness; crisis intervention and family mediation to help young people remain housed; and transitional approaches with income, social and health-care supports for young people.

“Many people, including policy-makers, believe that youth homelessness and crime are linked, and they use laws such as the Safe Streets Act to ‘move along’ young people,” said Gaetz. “In fact, our findings show that young homeless people are among the most victimized people in our society, and they need our protection.”

  • Stephen Gaetz, associate dean of research & field development in York’s Faculty of Education, spoke about his latest study that shows homeless youth are often victims of crime, on CBC Radio and Radio Canada stations across the country and on OMNI-TV Sept. 27.

Dating in junior high?

More and more parents are faced with this dilemma today, wrote the Calgary Herald Sept. 28. According to one survey, nearly half of teens between the ages of 11 and 14 years old are dating. This survey also found that sex is considered a large part of dating by teens. Perhaps even more alarmingly, it also found significant levels of abuse in these relationships.

With this knowledge of the dating scene, why would anyone allow their tween to start dating?

“Teenagers often wonder two things: how to date and what a healthy relationship is,” says Jennifer Connolly, a psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Health and the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution. “Parents should take an active role in teaching and helping their kids understand what normal dating behaviours are.” By understanding what “healthy” dating is at this age, parents can set limits and protect their child. At the end of the day, “it’s better than saying they shouldn’t date at all.”

So when your daughter asks if it is OK to go to the mall for a group date, instead of following your knee-jerk reaction and saying no, think about what she may be learning from it. It may just offer her the protection and knowledge you want to give her while giving her the opportunity to learn about dating while she still has the protection of her friends – and you – to rely on. And then when she goes on her very first date alone, you can rest assured that you helped prepare her with lessons and advice she needs to learn about relationships in a healthy way and avoid harm.

Extreme inequality is on the rise

Billionaires are on the rise. While workers’ wages have stagnated over the past 30 years, the rich have gotten richer and the very rich have gotten wildly richer, wrote Neil Brooks, a tax law professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, and journalist Linda McQuaig in the National Post Sept. 28.

Anecdotal reports of rising inequality have been confirmed in countless empirical studies…. There has been no serious academic dispute over these findings. This data is the basis of our recently released book, The Trouble with Billionaires, which documents the negative consequences of the rise of extreme inequality in Canada, the United States and Britain. So we were surprised to discover Terence Corcoran’s article in the Post purporting to expose the “myth” of rising inequality (Sept. 16).

Corcoran asserts that “the economic literature is full of debate, most of it in rejection of the basic premise that inequality has been dramatically on the rise.” While there is some dispute over the size of the increase in income inequality among the bottom 90 per cent, there’s been no dispute that inequality has risen, and risen particularly dramatically at the very top.

There are fascinating questions about income inequality that cry out for serious public debate and we look forward to debating them with Corcoran and others. But let’s not get caught up in a sideshow dispute over whether billionaires are just figments of our imaginations.

It’s not enough to build a better mousetrap

When it comes to the myriad components that are essential for running a successful corporation, a question arises: why do so many MBA graduates and managers look upon marketing as being so expendable? asked the National Post Sept. 28

Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University, notes there are two objectives of marketing: understanding customers and finding out what customers want. “Therefore, marketing isn’t optional – marketing is fundamental; it’s essential,” he says.

Even so, Middleton contends that especially in Canada, marketing takes a back seat. “In most countries in the world, this [the merits of marketing] would never be up for debate. Not so in Canada. We haven’t been so successful.”

With all due respect to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Middleton stresses that merely building a superior mousetrap is a meaningless endeavour “unless you’re able to convince people it really is the best mousetrap and that they really need to buy one.”

Still, hope abounds when it comes to the next generation. Case in point: Sarah Katyal (BBA Spec. Hons. ’10), a Schulich graduate who recently launched a company that provides an e-commerce platform for the fashion industry. Katyal says marketing is the last discipline she’d ignore. “The key [to the business] will be my value proposition and determining the three things that are essential from a customer service perspective,” she says. “It’s all about marketing.”

Social responsibility is not optional

The controversy around the role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and more specifically its place in business schools is ongoing, wrote the National Post Sept. 28. The Financial Post’s own Terence Corcoran argued not too long ago in these pages that business schools are graduating “Stepford Executives” more focused on “mollifying shareholder advocacy groups and NGOs” than maximizing value and profits.

But that old-school thinking does not take into account a new dynamic and reality, says Dirk Matten, the Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “In today’s globalized world many issues transcend the reach of national governments. One of the reasons the Canadian government, for example, is encouraging more CSR is that Canadian companies don’t just operate in Canada and the Canadian government cannot regulate Congo, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina or any of the other countries our businesses are in,” Matten says. “At the same time, many of the technologies today are so complex that the knowledge to manage these things responsibly only exists in the private sector.”

Once the Internet entered the business landscape, companies became that much more vulnerable to everyone from activists to consumer groups…. As a result, says Andrew Crane, George R. Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics at Schulich, “Businesses want students who can integrate CSR into typical business functions like marketing, accounting, strategy and management. The momentum is clear,” Crane says. “As business has expanded into so many areas of our life we clearly understand we need to manage in a way that is fair to the wide range of stakeholders involved.”

Management science is a must

Of all the disciplines in the MBA curricula, management science (MS) is one of the most controversial, wrote University Professor Wade Cook, Gordon Carlton Shaw Professor of Management Science and associate dean, research, in the Schulich School of Business at York University, in the National Post Sept. 28.

So, the question is, “Should MS tools be part of an MBA curriculum?” The “anti-MS” view is that these methodologies are very complex and difficult to learn, particularly for those coming from a largely non-mathematical background. Digesting this material requires far more time than a traditional MBA program will permit.

The “pro-MS” view adopted by most business schools is that more, not less MS training is warranted. There is a looming sense among many employers that our MBA graduates possess less than an adequate knowledge base in MS to cope with the complexities that they will face in today’s challenging, fast-paced business world.

Bottom line: For the business leaders of tomorrow, rigorous training in MS is a must.

The Post noted that Cook is recognized as one of the world’s leading scholars in efficiency measurement.

On air

  • York grad Jamie Burr (MSc ’05, PhD ’10), a kinesiologist and exercise physiologist in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, spoke about his latest study of the healthy aspects of riding all-terrain vehicles, on CBC Radio Sept. 27.
  • Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about online shopping, on Global TV Sept. 27.
  • Saeed Rahnema, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about Iran’s growing political and military influence in the Middle East, on TVO’s “The Agenda” Sept. 27.