Clarifying the complex

February 05, 2004, vol. 29, no. 3
By Marianne Meadahl

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When youth kill or commit other acts of violence, the media frequently turns to Raymond Corrado.

The veteran criminology professor often faces similar media questions: Is there a new trend of youth violence in Canada? Have young people changed; or, ironically, What is the role of media in shaping young people today?

Corrado not only has some answers, he is also working on solutions. “My role is to be dispassionate, neutral, and research focused,” says Corrado, the recipient of the 2003 SFU President's award for service to the university through media and public relations.

“But it's not as simple as that. Some issues are incredibly emotionally charged. You're trying to present views as dispassionately as possible about why a young offender committed a crime.

“It's important to bring the most advanced research to bear on these issues,” adds Corrado. “As researchers, we have an obligation to put issues in a clear perspective because, in these circumstances, panic and fear often prevail.”

Corrado says putting research into sound bytes can be challenging given the complexity of the research methodology. In the case of violent youth, there can be biomedical issues and psychiatric issues and often, multiple pathways to the same violent act.

“Being able to work through the complexities and come across concisely is a skill researchers need to develop,” he says. “This award says that it is important, worthwhile and it's recognized.”

Corrado's work in the field began in the 1980s with the establishment of a new criminology research centre at SFU and his involvement in a national study on the juvenile court system. Over the years, he has played an integral role in assessing and redrafting legislation related to youth involved in crime, including the recently adopted Youth Criminal Justice act.

The recipient of two major Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council research grants, Corrado is currently completing one phase of a long-term study on the multiple pathways to youth violence and the impact of incarceration on serious and violent re-offending.

The research involved dozens of graduate and undergraduate students who conducted interviews with more than 600 incarcerated youth in B.C.

As one of the co-founders of SFU's institute of mental health, law, and policy Corrado is also a key player on a NATO project to develop a research tool to predict the earliest indications of violent tendencies in youth (the instrument is now being tested in Europe).

Corrado's research is interdisciplinary with strong international connections. His collaborative work with several European universities, his publications and his presentations at national and international conferences over the years have also contributed to SFU being recognized as a leading social sciences research institution.

“What's exciting is that we are not only conducting groundbreaking research, but stirring some intense policy debates based on valid research rather than emotion,” adds Corrado.

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