victimization of children and youth increases as they get older
over 75,000 children and youth were victims of police-reported violent crime in 2008. That is, for every 100,000 children
and youth in Canada, 1,111 were victims of a violent offence.
rate of violence against children and youth tends to increase as children get older. The lowest rate of violence was reported
for children under 3 years of age (162 per 100,000), after which the rate substantially increases for each subsequent age
group (Chart 1). However, it should be noted that the youngest victims (under 3) must rely on others in their immediate environment
to report their victimization. In the case of the youngest victims, the perpetrators are most often family members. Consequently,
incidents of violent victimization of the youngest children are often under-reported compared to other age groups who have
more contact with the outside world through school and other activities.
of violent victimization highest among youth aged 15 to 17
aged 15 to 17 reported the highest rate of violence (2,710 per 100,000) among all age groups, including the highest at-risk
age category – 18 to 24 year olds (2,578) (Table 1). Some studies have attributed higher violent victimization among
teens as a result of engaging in high risk behaviours. According to the International Youth Survey, over one-third of students
in grades 7 to 9 in Toronto reported having engaged in delinquent behaviours, including violent, property or drug-related
behaviours (Savoie, 2007). Other studies have shown that children and youth who have been victimized may show aggressive or
self-destructive behaviour, and are at greater risk of engaging in delinquent or deviant behaviour (Health Canada, 2004; Hotton,
to the age of 8, reported rates of violent crime were generally higher for female victims. Between 9 and 12 years of age,
male rates exceeded those of females, but by the age of 13, the rate for female youth once again exceeded that of males, peaking
at age 17 (Chart 2). This increase is primarily due to higher rates of sexual violence against girls.
rates of violence against children and youth under 18 have remained relatively stable over the most recent 5-year period (2004
to 2008 2 ). Overall, rates have been consistently higher for male children and youth compared to females during this period
of violence steadily increase, peaking at age 17 for both girls and boys, 2008
violence against children and youth remains steady, 2004 to 2008
the provinces, police-reported violence against children and youth highest in Saskatchewan and lowest in Prince Edward Island
are substantial regional variations in overall rates of police-reported violence against children and youth. In 2008, rates
of violence against children and youth among the provinces were highest in Saskatchewan (2,136 per 100,000 population) followed
by Manitoba (1,710), and lowest in Prince Edward Island (894), Ontario (958) and Quebec (970). Among the three territories,
the rate of violence against children and youth was highest in Nunavut (4,311) and lowest in the Yukon (1,968) (Table 2, Chart
4). These jurisdictional variations in police-reported violence against children and youth were consistent with the overall
violent crime rates for 2008 (Wallace, 2009).
to the overall violent crime rates reported among the major census metropolitan areas (CMAs), 3 Saint John reported the highest rate of violence against children and youth in 2008 (2,075 child and youth
victims per 100,000 population) followed by Regina (1,584) and Saskatoon (1,580). The lowest rates of violence against children
and youth were reported in Quebec (658) and Guelph (656) (Table 3).
rates of violent victimization of children and youth under 18 highest in Saskatchewan and lowest in P.E.I.
of physical assault highest against teens aged 15 to 17
assaults are the most common type of violent crime experienced by children and youth. Nearly 42,000 physical assaults against
children and youth were reported to police in 2008. Similar to adult victims, most physical assaults experienced by children
and youth were common assaults, the least serious form of assault, accounting for 76% of all physical assaults. Assault with
a weapon or assault causing bodily harm accounted for another 22%, and the most serious form of assault, aggravated assault,
accounted for 1% of all reported physical assaults against children and youth (Table 1).
aged 15 to 17 experienced higher rates of physical assault than any of the other child and youth age groups (1,572 per 100,000
teens), and approaches that of young adults aged 18 to 24 (1,694). Teens aged 15 to 17 were victims in nearly half (49%) of
all reported physical assaults against children and youth.
boys, regardless of age, were more likely than girls to be victims of physical assault. Males under the age of 18 suffered
physical assault at a rate that was nearly 1.5 times higher than their female counterparts (707 compared to 525 per 100,000)
(Table 7). In contrast, girls were more likely to be sexually assaulted. For male victims of physical assault, the rate begins
to sharply increase around age 9 and peaks at age 17 (1,789) (Chart 5).
of physical assault peak at age 17 for both girls and boys, 2008
children most often assaulted by family members
have found that most violent acts committed against children and youth are perpetrated by people who are part of the victim’s
immediate environment (United Nations, 2006). The majority of police-reported physical assaults against children under the
age of 6 were committed by someone known to the victim (81%). For the youngest victims (children under 6), 6 in 10 physical
assaults (64%) were perpetrated by a family member.
specifically, infants and young children were most vulnerable to violence at the hands of a parent. When a family member was
accused of physically assaulting a child under 6, eight in ten (85%) of those accused was a parent. 4 Fathers were identified as the perpetrator in 59% of these incidents, followed by mothers (27%) and other
male family members (10%).
to the fact that older children spend more of their time outside of the family sphere, they were more likely than younger
children to be assaulted by persons outside the family network. Older children aged 9 to 11, and youth aged 12 to 14 and 15
to 17 were most likely to be assaulted by an acquaintance 5 (33%, 40% and 33%
respectively), or a stranger (11%, 14% and 17%). A larger proportion of male victims aged 15 to 17 (23%) were physically assaulted
by a stranger compared to female victims of the same age (10%). This may be a reflection of increased risk-taking behaviours
among males (Pawlowski et al., 2008; Harris et al., 2006). Physical assaults of teens were most often perpetrated by their
peers (44% for 12 to 14 year olds, 43% for 15 to 17 year olds).
and youth most often assaulted with physical force
against children and youth under 18 typically do not involve the use of a weapon. 6
When injuries were sustained, they were most often the result of physical force 7
(47%) rather than a weapon (15%). However, when a weapon was used, it was usually classified as an “other weapon”
such as a motor vehicle, poison, or an object that can be used for strangulation. Firearms were used in 1% of physical assaults
against children and youth (Table 5).
of the most visible consequences of violence against children and youth is physical injury. In 2008, just over one-third of
child and youth victims of all violent offences suffered a minor (35%) or major physical injury (1%). 8 Compared to other types of police-reported violence against children and youth, physical assaults were
more likely to result in injuries. The majority of these injuries were classified by police as being minor in nature, requiring
no professional medical treatment or only some first aid.
young victims of physical assault, teens aged 15 to 17 were the most likely to sustain injuries (57% minor injuries and 3%
major injuries), followed by children under 3 years of age (43% minor and 13% major).
and youth victims of violence not only experience immediate physical and emotional consequences, they may also experience
long-term consequences including an increased risk of behavioural, developmental and emotional disorders such as depression,
fear or anxiety (Hotton, 2003; Moss, 2003), as well as increased rates of delinquent behaviour (Zeman and Bressan, 2008; Fitzgerald,
2004; Widom and Maxfield, 2001).
assault rate 1.5 times higher for children and youth than young adults
second most prevalent type of police-reported violence committed against children and youth is sexual assault. In 2008, there
were over 13,600 child and youth victims of sexual offences reported to police. Over half (59%) of all victims of sexual assault
were children and youth under the age of 18. The rate of sexual assaults against children and youth was 1.5 times higher than
the rate for young adults aged 18 to 24 in 2008 (201 per 100,000 children and youth compared to 130 for young adults) (Table
majority of sexual offences committed against young victims under 18 were level 1 sexual assaults - the least serious form
of sexual assault (80%). Other sexual crimes committed against children and youth included sexual interference, sexual touching
and sexual exploitation of children and accounted for 19% of all sexual offences directed at children and youth. The more
serious forms of sexual assaults against young people including sexual assault with a weapon or aggravated sexual assault
accounted for about 1% of incidents.
both boys and girls are vulnerable to sexual violence, 9 the vast majority of
child victims of sexual offences were female (82%). Girls under the age of 18 reported a rate of sexual violence that was
nearly 5 times higher than their male counterparts (337 young females per 100,000 compared to 72 young male victims) and substantially
higher than that experienced by young adult females aged 18 to 24 (246) (Table 6 and Table 7).
youth aged 12 to 17 reported higher rates of sexual violence than younger children and young adults (aged 18 to 24). In 2008,
youth aged 12 to 14 (348) and aged 15 to 17 (300) experienced rates of sexual violence that were more than double that of
young adults (130). The rate of sexual victimization of female victims under the age of 18 is highest through the teenage
years, peaking at ages 13 through 15 (Chart 6).
assault rates highest among 13 to 15 year old girls, 2008
youth 12 and older more often sexually assaulted by non-family perpetrators
violence against children and youth is more commonly perpetrated by someone known to the victim (75%), usually an acquaintance
or a family member.
to physical assaults, as the age of the victim increases the proportion of sexual assaults perpetrated by a family member
decreases. Youth aged 12 to 14 and 15 to 17 were more likely to be sexually abused by persons outside the family (59% and
63% respectively) compared to children under 12. Strangers were implicated in 10% of police-reported sexual violence against
children and youth. The majority (80%) of child and youth victims who were sexually assaulted by a stranger were older, between
12 and 17 years of age.
acquaintances were responsible for over one-quarter of all reported sexual assaults against youth aged 12 to 14 (29%) and
15 to 17 (27%). The age of these accused suggests that many of them were peers, as 39% were between 12 and 17 years of age,
and another 23% were between the ages of 18 and 24.
a family member was accused of sexually abusing a child or youth (33% of incidents), the vast majority of these incidents
were perpetrated by a male relative (97%). Over one third of family-related sexual incidents were perpetrated by male extended
family members 10 (37%), followed by fathers 11
(35%) and brothers (27%).
injury more common among female victims of sexual assault, specifically teens aged 15 to 17 and girls under 3
contrast to physical assaults, sexual assaults were less likely to result in a physical injury. Minor injuries were sustained
in 12% of police-reported incidents of sexual abuse against children and youth in 2008. Among female child and youth victims
of sexual assault, teen girls aged 15 to 17 (16%) and young children under 3 (15%) sustained the highest proportion of physical
injuries compared to other age groups.
force was the most common method used to inflict injury to child and youth victims of sexual abuse that were reported to police