Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series

    Criminal Victimization and Health: A Profile of Victimization Among Persons with Activity Limitations or Other Health Problems, 2004

    Criminal Victimization and Health: A Profile of Victimization Among Persons with Activity Limitations or Other Health Problems

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    By Samuel Perreault, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada

    In 2007, Canada signed1 the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recognizes that persons with activity limitations have a higher risk of being a victim of violence or abuse. At that time, Canada committed to make all possible efforts to protect persons with disabilities (United Nations, 2006a).

    According to the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), over 4.4 million Canadians, 14% of the population, reported at least one physical or mental condition limiting them in their daily activities. Moreover, with an ageing population, that number is expected to grow in the coming years (Statistics Canada, 2006; Trottier et al., 2000). Given Canada's recent commitments, it is important to get an accurate picture of criminal victimization of persons with disabilities in Canada.

    Based largely on 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) data, this profile presents an analysis of the links between criminal victimization and activity limitations, and certain other health factors. In particular, it analyzes characteristics of incidents, victims and their perpetrators. Finally, the perceptions of crime and the justice system among persons with activity limitations are discussed.

    Text box 1: Definitions

    Disability/activity limitation

    The General Social Survey uses the World Health Organization's (WHO) framework definition of disability which, in the broad sense, includes all activity limitations. Persons with activity limitations were those who stated that they had difficulty in their daily lives or who reported a physical or mental condition or a health problem that limited the quantity or type of activities they could engage in.

    Note: Although the terms "persons with disabilities", "persons with activity limitations" and "disabled persons" might reflect different realities, those three terms will be used interchangeably in the text to identify persons with activity limitations as defined previously.

    Offence types

    The 2004 General Social Survey measured the extent of violent victimization with respect to three offence types, based on the Criminal Code definitions for these crimes. When an incident involved more than one type of crime, it was classified according to the most serious offence (in the order presented below).

    Violent crimes

    Sexual assault: Forced sexual activity, attempted forced sexual activity, or unwanted sexual touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling.
    Robbery: Theft or attempted theft in which the perpetrator has a weapon or there is violence or the threat of violence against the victim.
    Assault: An attack (victim hit, slapped, grabbed, knocked down or beaten), a face-to-face threat of physical harm, or an incident with a weapon present.


    1. It is worth noting that, when this document was written, Canada had not yet ratified the Convention.
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