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Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2018

Released: 2019-12-12

Police-reported family violence against seniors increased from 2009 to 2018, while intimate partner violence declined and family violence against children and youth remained relatively stable. Family violence affects Canadians of all ages, and it can have immediate and long-term effects on the health and well-being of victims.

Police-reported family violence against seniors increased by 11% from 2009 to 2018, while intimate partner violence declined by 12% and family violence against children and youth remained relatively stable (-1%). Meanwhile, overall police-reported violence declined by 17%.

In comparison to the longer-term trends recorded since 2009, increases were seen for all of these types of violence from 2017 to 2018.

The annual Juristat publication, "Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2018," is released today. It includes three fact sheets that use police-reported data to explore the following topics: family violence against children and youth, intimate partner violence and family violence against seniors. Research on family violence can help to identify those most at-risk for this type of victimization. Research can also help to ensure that programs and services are available for those in need, particularly because this kind of violence often occurs out of public view.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Percentage change in rate, by type of police-reported violence, Canada, 2009 to 2018 and 2017 to 2018
Percentage change in rate, by type of police-reported violence, Canada, 2009 to 2018 and 2017 to 2018

Police-reported family violence against seniors up for third consecutive year

For the third year in a row, police in Canada reported a higher rate of family violence against seniors aged 65 and older (+4%). There were 67 senior victims per 100,000 population in 2018, up from 65 victims per 100,000 population in 2017. According to population estimates for 2018, seniors aged 65 and older accounted for 17% of Canadians. As the senior population continues to grow, senior abuse—both within and outside of families—has emerged as an important issue.

As with other kinds of family and intimate partner violence, women (58%) were more likely than men (42%) to be victims of family violence against seniors. Male senior victims of family violence were most commonly victimized by their child (35%), while female senior victims were most often victimized by their spouse (32%).

As the population ages, the number of seniors living in assisted care residences continues to grow. While not necessarily victims of family violence, 8% of senior victims had been victimized in a nursing home or a retirement home. Of the incidents involving a single victim and a single accused, 71% of senior victims of violence in a nursing home were victimized by a casual acquaintance, most often another senior (85%).

Police-reported family violence against children and youth increases from previous year

Non-family violence against children and youth in Canada declined by almost one-third (-31%) from 2009 to 2018, while family violence against children and youth was relatively stable (-1%). More recently, however, family violence against children and youth increased by 7% from 2017 to 2018—a larger increase than other types of family violence.

Family members were responsible for almost one-third (31%) of all violence committed against children and youth in 2018, a rate of 266 victims of family violence per 100,000 population. A parent (59%) was the family member most often responsible, and most child and youth victims (60% of female victims and 69% of male victims) lived with the family member who victimized them.

The majority (60%) of child and youth victims of police-reported family violence were female. Girls were especially over-represented as victims of family-related sexual offences, with a rate nearly five times higher than that among boys (149 female victims versus 32 male victims per 100,000 population).

Victims of intimate partner violence represent about one-third of all victims of police-reported violent crime

Intimate partner violence includes violence committed by a current or former legally married or common-law spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or other intimate partner. There were over 99,000 victims of intimate partner violence aged 15 to 89 in Canada in 2018, representing about one-third (30%) of all victims of police-reported violent crime. Almost four-fifths of victims of intimate partner violence were women (79%).

The rate of police-reported intimate partner violence in Canada increased by 2% from 2017 to 2018, reaching its highest level since 2012. During that time, rates of intimate partner violence among women increased by 3% but decreased slightly among men (-1%).

The rate of police-reported intimate partner violence has declined over the long term, however, falling by 12% from 2009 to 2018. This decline was stronger among women (-13%) than men (-7%). Over this period, the decrease in the rate of intimate partner violence has been less pronounced than the overall decrease in police-reported violence (-17%).

Intimate partner violence most often occurred at a private residence (84%) in 2018. Of those victimized by an intimate partner, half were victimized in a home they shared with the accused (50%) and about one-third were victimized in their own home (30%), that is, not shared with the accused. For 10% of victims of intimate partner violence, the incident took place in an open area such as a street, park or parking lot.

  Note to readers

The report "Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2018" is produced by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics under the Federal Family Violence Initiative. It provides the most current data on the nature and extent of family violence in Canada, as well as trends over time.

Family violence refers to violence committed by parents (biological, step, adopted and foster), children (biological, step, adopted and foster), siblings (biological, step, half, adopted and foster), same-sex and opposite-sex spouses (legally married, separated, divorced and common-law) and extended family members (such as, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws). Intimate partner violence includes violence committed by same-sex and opposite-sex current or former legally married or common-law spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends and other intimate partners.

This report uses police-reported data from the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and the Homicide Survey. Child and youth victims include those aged 17 and younger, intimate partner victims include those aged 15 to 89, and senior victims include those aged 65 to 89. Victims aged 90 and older are excluded due to possible instances of miscoding of unknown age within this age category.

Products

The article "Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2018" 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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