JustFacts

Victimization of Indigenous Children and Youth

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July 2017

Research and Statistics Division

Higher proportion of Indigenous people self-report experiencing a form of childhood maltreatment

A higher proportion of Indigenous people self-reported experiencing some form of childhood physical and/or sexual maltreatment before the age of 15 compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts (40% and 29%, respectively). Survey results also showed some differences in the prevailing types of childhood maltreatment between Indigenous men and women. More specifically, Indigenous women were more likely than Indigenous men to self-report experiencing ‘both physical and sexual maltreatment’ as a child (14% and 5%E Footnote 1, respectively); Indigenous men were more likely than Indigenous women to self-report experiencing ‘physical maltreatment only’ as a child (31% and 21%, respectively).Footnote 2

A family member is a common perpetrator in maltreatment cases

In cases of physical child maltreatment, a family member was most frequently self-reported as the adult perpetrator for Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people (74% and 70%, respectively). In cases of sexual child maltreatment, for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people a family member (44% and 37%, respectively) or an acquaintance (35% and 38%, respectively) was more often self-reported as the adult responsible.Footnote 3

High number of Indigenous children in foster care

In 2011, close to half (48%) of all children under the age of 15 in foster care were Indigenous, whereas Indigenous children under the age of 15 represented only 7% of the overall population of 14 year olds and younger.Footnote 4 The Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and NeglectFootnote 5 found that 22% of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect involved children with an “Indigenous heritage”. Several reports have “shown that neglect is the most commonly substantiated form of maltreatment for investigations involving First Nations children, whereas exposure to domestic violence is the most commonly substantiated form of maltreatment for investigations involving non-Aboriginal children.”Footnote 6

Higher levels of Indigenous people have witnessed violence committed by a parent, step-parent or guardian as a child

The 2014 GSS on Victimization showed that 21% of Indigenous people in the provinces self-report witnessing violence committed by a parent, step-parent or guardian as a child compared to 10% of non-Indigenous people in the provinces. The 2014 GSS also highlights that 17% of respondents in the territories self-report witnessing violence committed by a parent, step-parent or guardian as a child.Footnote 7 Footnote 8

High self-reported prevalence of Indigenous Youth Victimization

National data show that self-reported rates of victimization are higher among youth and then decrease as age increases.Footnote 91 According to Boyce (2016)Footnote 10, the violent victimizationFootnote 11 rate for Indigenous people aged 15 to 24 was 330E per 1,000 population aged 15-24, 136E per 1,000 population aged 25-44, and 89E per 1,000 population aged 45 and older. In comparison, the violent victimization rate for non-Indigenous people was 155 per 1,000 population aged 15 to 24 years old, 92 per 1,000 population aged 25-44 and 38 per population aged 45 and older. It is important to note that the rate of 330E per 1,000 population aged 15 to 24 for Indigenous people was significantly different than for non-Indigenous people.

Gap in research

Despite some additions to the GSS, there is a general lack of Indigenous-specific data on child and youth victimization.

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