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Police-reported violence against girls and young women in Canada, 2017

Released: 2018-12-17

While the overall rate of police-reported violence against girls and young women fell from 2009 to 2017, the rate for sexual offences rose by 31% over the same period.

Violence affects both males and females, but in different ways. For example, girls and young women are more likely to be victims of sexual offences, and violence is more commonly perpetrated by someone close to them. In contrast, violence against boys and young men is most often related to physical assault offences, and it is more commonly perpetrated by a stranger or a casual acquaintance.

Detailed information is provided in the Juristat article, "Police-reported violence against girls and young women in Canada, 2017," released today.

Rate of police-reported violent crime higher for victims who are girls and young women

Overall, the rate of police-reported violent crime in 2017 was 35% higher for victims who were girls and young women aged 24 and younger (1,394 per 100,000 population) than their male counterparts (1,030 victims per 100,000 population). Violence also peaked overall at a younger age for female victims (15 years) than it did for male victims (17 years).

Rate of sexual offences against girls and young women increases, while other types of violence decrease

While rates of police-reported violence against those aged 24 and younger declined from 2009 to 2017, the decline was smaller for girls and young women (-18%) than for their male counterparts (-34%).

Despite an overall decline in the rate of violence against girls and young women, this differed by the type of offence. While rates for physical assault offences (-24%) and other violent offences (-38%) decreased for victims who were girls and young women, sexual offences increased sharply (+31%). In comparison, the rate of sexual offences increased to a smaller extent for victims who were boys and young men (+7%).

Excluding 2017—a year of heightened awareness of and discussion about the issue of sexual misconduct and sexual violence—there was still a 13% increase in police-reported sexual offences among girls and young women from 2009 to 2016.

Sexual offences highest for victims who are older girls

Similar to previous years, the type of violent offence most frequently experienced by girls and young women shifted with age. Girls aged 11 and younger and girls aged 12 to 17 who were victims of violence both had higher rates of sexual offences compared with other types of violence. For young women aged 18 to 24 who were victims of violence, the rate for physical assault offences was highest. While physical assault offences and other violent offences increased with age for girls and young women, sexual offences were highest for older girls aged 12 to 17.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Girls and young women who were victims of police-reported violent crime, by victim age group and type of offence, Canada, 2017
Girls and young women who were victims of police-reported violent crime, by victim age group and type of offence, Canada, 2017

Aboriginal girls and young women over-represented among victims of homicide

Over the past decade, homicide rates were, on average, three times higher for boys and young men than for girls and young women. Among homicide victims, an average of 131 boys and young men were killed each year, compared with 41 girls and young women.

However, Aboriginal girls and young women were over-represented among homicide victims over this period. According to the most recent census, 7% of the female population aged 24 and younger is Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis or Inuit). Among girls and young women who were homicide victims over the past decade, just over one-third (34%) were Aboriginal.

Girls and young women most commonly victimized by someone close to them, often on private property

In 2017, violence against girls and young women was most commonly perpetrated by a male (81%). Girls and young women were more often victimized by someone close to them—that is, someone they likely knew well and trusted—compared with boys and young men. Around 6 in 10 (57%) victims who were girls and young women were subjected to violence by a family member, an intimate partner (non-spousal) or a friend. This compared with about 3 in 10 (31%) of their male counterparts.

Among girls and young women, the accused-victim relationship varied by age group, likely as a result of their social environment: those aged 11 and younger were most often victimized by a parent, those aged 12 to 17 by a casual acquaintance and those aged 18 to 24 by an intimate partner (non-spousal).

Girls and young women were most often victimized on private property (62%), regardless of the type of violence they experienced. Of those who were victimized on private property, nearly two-thirds (65%) were victimized in their own home.

Victims who are girls and young women more often have a delay in reporting to the police

More than one in four (28%) girls and young women who were victims of violence had a delay in reporting to the police—meaning the police were not contacted on the same day the incident occurred—compared with about one in five boys and young men (19%). For girls and young women, a delay in reporting was far more common for victims of sexual offences (54%) than for those who were victims of physical assault offences (16%) and other violent offences (22%).

More common for victims who are girls and young women to have violent incidents cleared by charge

Regardless of the type of violence they experienced, girls and young women had the incident in which they were victimized result in the laying or recommendation of a charge more often than victims who were boys and young men. The gap was largest for victims of physical assault offences, as 57% of girls and young women and 39% of boys and young men had the incident result in a charge.

Rates of violence against girls and young women higher in territories and rural areas

The rate of police-reported violence against girls and young women was higher in every province and territory than the corresponding rate for boys and young men. Similar to crime in general, rates of violence were highest for girls and young women in the territories, followed by Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The rate of violence was nearly two times higher for girls and young women in rural areas (2,212 per 100,000 population) than it was in urban areas (1,236 per 100,000 population).

  Note to readers

This article is based on police-reported data from the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and the Homicide Survey. It presents information on violent offences under the Criminal Code that were reported to and substantiated by the police.

For police-reported data, victim age, sex and Aboriginal identity (First Nations, Métis or Inuit) is based on information provided by the police. One incident can involve multiple offences. Data represent the most serious offence in the incident as determined by a standard classification rule used by all police services. Some victims experience violence over a period of time, sometimes years, all of which may be considered by the police to be part of one continuous incident. Information about the number and dates of individual incidents for these victims of continuous violence is not available. Inversely, a victim record is collect for each victim involved in the incident. If an individual is a victim in multiple incidents in the same reference year, that individual will be counted as a victim for each separate incident.

An urban area is defined as a census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA). Rural areas are all areas outside of CMAs and CAs.

Products

The article "Police-reported violence against girls and young women in Canada, 2017" is now available as part of the publication Juristat (Catalogue number85-002-X).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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