Statistics on Family Violence Against Children and Youth

Statistics on Family Violence Against Children and Youth

In October 2009, StatsCan published its 12th annual Family Violence in Canada report. The focus of the report was on shelters that provide residential services to women and children leaving situations of domestic violence. The information found in this article is taken directly from the StatsCan report. Any comments made by the OWJN are identified as such and are placed in brackets.

Police-reported family violence against children and youth

  • Police-reported data for 2007 indicate that children and youth under the age of 18 were most likely to be physically or sexually assaulted by someone they know (85% of incidents). [OWJN: This corresponds to what we know about sexual assault more generally; despite the persistent myth that sexual assault is a crime committed by strangers, it is most common for a person who is sexually assaulted to know her attacker.]
  • Nearly 53,400 children and youth were the victims of a police-reported assault in 2007, with about 3 in 10 incidents of assaults against children and youth perpetrated by a family member. When children and youth were victims of family violence, a parent was identified as the abuser in nearly 6 in 10 incidents. [OWJN: Family violence leads many young people to flee their homes. Not infrequently, young people who leave home to escape family violence end up living marginal lives, perhaps homeless and with little access to education and job opportunities. Many youth experience more violence on the street. Safety planning is important if you are considering leaving home. See the resources on this website on safety planning.]
  • Girls under the age of 18 reported higher rates of both physical and sexual assault by a family member than boys. In 2007, the rate of family-perpetrated sexual assault was more than 4 times higher for girls than for boys.
  • Male family members were identified as the accused in a sizable majority of family-related sexual (96%) and physical assaults (71%) against children and youth.

Family homicides against children and youth

  • Homicides of children and youth (under the age of 18) represented about 9% of all homicides in 2007. Most child and youth homicide victims were killed by someone they knew. In 2007, 41% of child and youth homicides were committed by a family member, 27% by someone known to the victim but other than a family member, 20% by strangers and the remaining 13% of child and youth homicides were unsolved.
  • Parents were the perpetrators in the majority of child and youth homicides committed by family members. Fathers (54%) were more likely than mothers (34%) to be the perpetrators. Infants under the age of one experienced higher rates of family homicide compared to older children. From 1998 to 2007, baby boys (35 per million population) had somewhat higher rates than baby girls (27 per million population).
  • In family homicides of infants, half of victims (51%) were killed by their mother and 47% by their father, whereas in family homicides of older children fathers were the most likely perpetrators.

The complete report is available online through StatsCan’s website.

Adapted with permission from OWJN.