Child Abuse In Canada

Understanding and Addressing Child Abuse

Understanding and Addressing Child Abuse

Child abuse is a serious issue that affects communities across Canada. According to the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS), there were approximately 235,000 investigations of child maltreatment in Canada in 2018. Of these investigations, 52% involved physical abuse, making it one of the most prevalent forms of child abuse reported.

Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Child sexual abuse is a wide range of very serious crimes committed upon a child by an adult, youth or another person in a position of authority to a child/youth. Child sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in Canada and occurs when a child is used for sexual purposes by an adult or a youth, it can involve contact and non-contact offences and occur online or offline. Sexual abuse (referred to as Sexual Assault in the Criminal Code of Canada) involves exposing a child to sexual behaviour or activity, sexual touching, invitation to sexual touching, sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, anal), production, possession and/or distribution of child pornography, sexual exploitation and exhibitionism.

Sexual abuse is always a misuse of power, control, betrayal, trust and authority; children and youth who are sexually abused are never responsible or at fault for their abuse.

For more in-depth information on child sexual abuse, you can download the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s free resourceC3P_ProtectingYourChild_en.pdf.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves intentional harm or injury inflicted upon a child by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a position of authority. This can include hitting, punching, kicking, burning, or any other form of physical violence. Children who experience physical abuse may suffer from bruises, broken bones, or other injuries, and they may also experience emotional trauma and long-term psychological effects.

It’s estimated that 1 in 10 Canadian adults reported experiencing physical abuse during childhood. However, it’s important to note that many cases of physical abuse go unreported, and the actual prevalence may be higher.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of exploitation that involves the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of individuals for the purpose of forced labor, sexual exploitation, or other forms of exploitation. While comprehensive data on human trafficking in Canada is limited, it’s recognized as a significant issue affecting vulnerable populations, including children and youth. Human trafficking is a violent crime that exploits the most vulnerable, depriving victims of their normal lives and forcing them to provide labour or sexual services through coercion and control.

According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, approximately 10,000 children are reported missing in Canada each year, and many of these cases involve children who are at risk of or have been victims of human trafficking. Indigenous children and youth are disproportionately affected by human trafficking, accounting for a significant portion of reported cases.

If you think someone is a victim of human trafficking, you can call the confidential, victim centred Canadian Human Trafficking 24/7 Hotline at 1-888-900-1010 or If you need assistance or would like more information on the signs of human trafficking, please visit

Intimate Partner Violence

also known as domestic violence

Intimate partner violence, also know n as domestic violence, has effects on the entire family. Children exposed to the sights, sounds and stress of intimate partner violence are affected at every age and stage of development. As such, exposure to intimate partner violence is a form of child abuse in Canada.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a prevalent form of gender-based violence. The World Health Organization identifies Intimate Partner Violence as a major global health issue that impacts people of all genders, ages, socioeconomic, racial, educational, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. However, women account for most people who experience IPV, and it is most often perpetrated by men.

IPV can happen in public, private or online and can include physical abuse, criminal harassment (stalking), sexual violence, emotional/psychological abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse, reproductive coercion, coercive control and cyber-violence.

Remember being a victim of intimate partner violence is not your fault. Talk to someone you trust, and consider ending the relationship, safely.

Online Sexual Exploitation

Online child sexual exploitation is one of the most prevalent safety issues in Canada today. Online child sexual exploitation includes:

  • Child Sexual Abuse Material: Actual or fictitious written descriptions of child sexual abuse, audio, video and images
  • Explicit Images
  • Self-Generated Materials and Sexting: Explicit imaged and videos which are often further distributed without consent
  • Sextortion: By use of coercion and threats, extorting child sexual abuse materials (images/videos) from a youth, including financial sextortion in which a predator threatens to release images unless the victim sends money
  • Grooming and Luring: Using applications and social media platforms to connect with children and youth for the purpose of sexually exploiting them
  • Live Child Abuse Streaming

Online child sexual exploitation is on the rise in Canada. Between 2014 and 2020 Canada’s National Tip Line processed over 4.3 million child sexual exploitation tips. Seven in ten victims identified in online sexual offences against children are girls aged 12 to 17.

For more information and safety tips, please visit