In many cases in Canada, the term youth is used in a loose manner and doesn’t really gets applied to one specific age group. Some will refer to a young adult as a youth. It is hard to define when one leaves what is considered as childhood and enters the phase of youth before they transition into adulthood.

A more modern way of thinking about this is to be able to define youth by their characteristics as opposed to their actual age. Why coming of age has always been defined by age is because there is a lot of commonality within specific age groups.

Sometimes youth gets intertwined with young adults and adolescents as categories. It is easier to define youth when looking at their abilities when it comes to the way they handle social and economic environments. Young adults are more in reference to those who have reached the age for handling autonomy and independence. The term adolescent is most often used when referencing risk exposure.

Throughout different parts of Canada, youth that are being categorised by age groups usually have variations such as 12 to 19, or in some cases 15 to 19. Most will eliminate the reference to youth once the individual has reached 20 and are now effectively considered to be a young adult.

Age categorisation for the description of youth is more of a convenience for those who have to develop programs and resources for the youth. It is easier to put them into this type of categorisation so they can set an entry and exit level for any given program.

When categorising youth using the standards of autonomy, it means determining how the youth is able to adapt to behaviour rules and dealing with the consequences of rule breaking. It is the transitioning into this that helps to define the youth and helps to recognise them.