June 07, 2012
Youth In Custody Write Graphic Novel To Help Peers
A graphic novel designed and written by youth in custody aims to help young people make a successful transition back into the community and to stay out of jail.
The project by the Centre for Youth and Society at the University of Victoria addresses the high level of recidivism in B.C.’s youth custody centres as well as the low literacy rate among teens in custody.
“Creating this graphic novel allowed the youth to develop understandings of concepts including literacy and transitions, as well as allowing them an opportunity to think of their own story of transition out of jail,” says project coordinator Kate Creedon. “Most importantly, this project gave the youth an opportunity to give back to other youth in the community.”
Graphic novels resemble comic books, are popular with youth and have been found to engage reluctant readers.
In developing the story line of In and Out, the youth drew on the experience of peers who succeeded in staying out of jail. The important differences were being able to connect with a job, school or training program, as well as establish new relationships rather than return to unhealthy ones.
The recidivism rate in B.C. for youth custody centres is 76% (Statistics Canada, 2006-2007). The average reading ability of incarcerated adolescents is at a Grade 4 level. For incarcerated teens, literacy skills are strongly correlated to a lower chance of recidivism.
“This project is important because these youth know what they need to transition successfully. While they’re getting the message out to other youth, they’re building their own literacy skills,” says Anne Marshall, Centre for Youth and Society director.
The Centre for Youth and Society is a research centre based at UVic that promotes the health and well being of youth; facilitates university-community partnerships and mobilizes knowledge regarding youth strengths, challenges and opportunities.
Images from the graphic novel In and Out are available upon request. Link to an online version is at: www.youth.society.uvic.ca.
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