General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization)
This report is based on Cycle 28 of the General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization) conducted in 2014. In 2014, Statistics Canada conducted the victimization cycle of the GSS for the sixth time. Previous cycles were conducted in the Canadian provinces in 1988, 1993, 1999, 2004 and 2009. The 2014 survey on victimization was also conducted in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut using a different sampling design. The GSS on Victimization had also been conducted in the territories in 2009 and was preceded by test collections in 1999 and 2004.
The purpose of the survey is to provide data on Canadians’ personal experiences with eight offences, examine the risk factors associated with victimization, examine rates of reporting to the police, assess the nature and extent of spousal violence, measure fear of crime, and examine public perceptions of crime and the criminal justice system. The target population was persons aged 15 and older living in the Canadian provinces and territories.
Once a household was selected and contacted by phone, an individual 15 years or older was randomly selected to respond to the survey. An oversample of immigrants and youth was added to the 2014 GSS for a more detailed analysis of these groups.
In 2014, the provincial sample size was 33,127 respondents. Of that number, 2,787 were from the oversample. The territorial sample size was 2,040 respondents. In 2004, the sample included 23,766 respondents from the provinces only.
Data collection differed between the provinces and territories. In the provinces, data collection took place from January to December 2014, inclusively. Responses were obtained by computer‑assisted telephone interviews (CATI). Respondents were able to respond in the official language of their choice.
In the territories, data collection took place from August 2014 to January 2015, inclusively. The method of collection was a mixture of telephone (CATI) and personal interviews (CAPI). Most cases started as CATI at the regional office and could be transferred to a CAPI interviewer depending on the community and collection constraints. Respondents were interviewed in the official language of their choice.
In the provinces, the overall response rates were 53% in 2014 and 75% in 2004. Non‑respondents included people who refused to participate, could not be reached, or could not speak English or French. Respondents in the sample were weighted so that their responses represent the non‑institutionalized Canadian provinces population aged 15 and older.
In the territories in 2014, the overall response rate was 59%. Non‑respondents included people who refused to participate, could not be reached, or could not speak English or French. Respondents in the sample were weighted so that their responses represent the non‑institutionalized territories population aged 15 and older. In 2004, data were collected in the territories on a pilot basis only and are not available for analysis.
As with any household survey, there are some data limitations. The results are based on a sample and are therefore subject to sampling errors. Somewhat different results might have been obtained if the entire population had been surveyed. This article uses the coefficient of variation (CV) as a measure of the sampling error. Estimates with a high CV (over 33.3%) were not published because they were too unreliable. In these cases, the symbol “F” is used in place of an estimate in the figures and data tables. Estimates with a CV between 16.6 and 33.3 should be used with caution and the symbol “E” is used. Where descriptive statistics and cross‑tabular analyses were used, statistically significant differences were determined using 95% confidence intervals.
Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey
The Incident‑based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey collects detailed information on criminal incidents that have come to the attention of, and have been substantiated by, Canadian police services. Information includes characteristics pertaining to incidents (weapon, location), victims (age, sex, accused‑victim relationship) and accused persons (age, sex). In 2016, data from police services covered 99% of the population of Canada. The count for a particular year represents incidents reported in that year, regardless of when the incident actually occurred.
One incident can involve multiple offences. In order to ensure comparability, counts are generally presented based upon the most serious offence in the incident as determined by a standard classification rule used by all police services. Counts based on all violations are available upon request.
The Homicide Survey collects detailed information on all homicides that have come to the attention of, and have been substantiated by, Canadian police services. Information includes characteristics pertaining to incidents (weapon, location), victims (age, sex, accused‑victim relationship), and accused persons (age, sex). Coverage for the Homicide Survey has represented 100% of the population since recording began in 1961. The count for a particular year represents all homicides reported in that year, regardless of when the death actually occurred.
Assault (physical): refers to three levels of physical assaults which include the following categories:
- Common assault: this includes the Criminal Code category assault (level 1). This is the least serious form of assault and includes pushing, slapping, punching, and face‑to‑face verbal threats.
- Major assault level 2: this includes more serious forms of assault, i.e. assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm and involves carrying, using or threatening to use a weapon against someone or causing someone bodily harm.
- Major assault level 3: this includes aggravated assault and involves wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of someone.
- Other assaults: includes pointing a firearm, unlawfully causing bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, using firearm or imitation firearm in commission of offence, discharge firearm with intent, assault police officer, assault against peace officer with a weapon or causing bodily harm, aggravated assault against peace officer, trap likely to or causing bodily harm, and other assaults.
Attempted murder: attempt by any means, including conspiracy, to commit murder.
Census metropolitan area (CMA): consists of one or more neighbouring municipalities situated around a major urban core. A CMA must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the urban core. To be included in the CMA, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by commuting flows derived from census data. A CMA typically comprises more than one police service.
Childhood maltreatment: physical and/or sexual abuse by someone aged 18 or older, and/or witnessing violence by a parent or guardian against another adult, before age 15.
Childhood physical abuse: one or more of the following experiences before age 15:
- Having been slapped or hit with something hard enough to have been hurt.
- Having been pushed, grabbed, or shoved.
- Having been kicked, bitten, punch, choked, burned or otherwise attacked.
Childhood sexual abuse: one or more of the following experiences before age 15:
- Having been touched, grabbed, kissed or fondled in a sexual way.
- Having been forced into unwanted sexual activity by being threatened, held down or hurt.
Criminal harassment: is defined as repeatedly following another person from place to place or repeatedly attempting to contact the person against their wishes causing that person to reasonably fear for their personal safety or the safety of anyone known to them.
Family and non‑family: the nature of the relationship between the victim and the accused is determined by establishing the identity of the accused relative to the victim. Family members include spouses, children, siblings, parents or other persons related to the victim by blood, marriage or another legal relationship (e.g. adoption). All other relationships are considered to be non‑family.
Homicide: includes first and second degree murder, manslaughter and infanticide. Deaths caused by criminal negligence, suicide, accidental or justifiable homicides are not included in this classification.
Intimate partner violence: violence committed by spouses and dating partners, that is violence committed within an intimate relationship. In Uniform Crime Reporting Survey data, this category includes victims aged 15 to 89. In Homicide Survey and General Social Survey data, this category includes victims aged 15 and older.
Major injuries: are those that require professional medical treatment or immediate transportation to a medical facility.
Minor injuries: are defined as those that do not require professional medical treatment or only some first aid.
Non‑intimate partner violence: violence committed by a family member (parent, child, other immediate or extended family member), a friend, an acquaintance, an associate (in business or in a criminal relationship), an authority figure, a neighbour or a stranger. Includes victims under 90 years of age.
Older adults and seniors: are used interchangeably in this report and refer to Canadians aged 65 years and older. Victims aged 90 years and older are excluded from analyses due to instances of possible miscoding of unknown age within this age category.
Sexual assault: encompasses a wide range of criminal acts in the Criminal Code. Such conduct ranges from unwanted sexual touching to sexual violence resulting in serious physical injury or disfigurement to the victim. It also includes special categories of offences designed to protect children from sexual abuse:
- Sexual assault level 1: involves minor physical injuries or no injuries to the victim.
- Sexual assault level 2: includes sexual assault with a weapon, threats or causing bodily harm.
- Aggravated sexual assault level 3: this results in wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the victim.
- Sexual interference: is the direct or indirect touching (for a sexual purpose) of a person under the age of 16 years using a part of the body or an object.
- Invitation to sexual touching: is the inviting, counselling, or inciting of a person under the age of 16 years to touch (for a sexual purpose) the body of any person directly or indirectly with a part of the body or with an object.
- Sexual exploitation: occurs when a person in a position of trust or authority towards a young person or a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency, commits sexual interference or invitation to sexual touching. In this section “young person” refers to a person between 16 and 18 years of age.
- Sexual exploitation of a person with a disability
- Incest: occurs when an individual has sexual intercourse with a person that has a known defined blood relationship with them.
- Anal intercourse
- Bestiality: commit/compel/incite a person.
- Corrupting children
- Making sexually explicit material available to children
- Luring a child via a computer
Spousal violence: violence committed against a spouse (married or common‑law) or an ex‑spouse (from a marriage or common‑law relationship).
Spouse: the husband or wife through marriage or common‑law and includes same‑sex partners. Where indicated, separated and/or divorced spouses are also included in this category. The separated or divorced category includes the former husband or wife (by marriage or by common law relationship) who is separated or divorced at the time of the criminal incident.
Stalking: repeated and unwanted attention that causes the victim to fear for their personal safety or for the safety of someone they know.
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