Ontario’s child abuse rates soar — study – Brief Article

Ontario’s child abuse rates soar — study – Brief Article – Statistical Data Included

TORONTO — The number of confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect nearly doubled in Ontario between 1993 and 1998, according to U of T research published by the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare.

While substantiated cases of physical abuse rose from an estimated 4,200 cases to 8,000. substantiated neglect cases jumped from 4,400 to 8,900. The research, which compared the 1998 Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect with a 1993 incidence study, also found an 870 per cent increase in cases of substantiated emotional maltreatment, largely as a result of exposure to domestic violence.

“The rapid growth in reports to children’s aid societies of cases related to domestic violence creates an urgent need to develop services that can support children exposed to such violence in a manner that is supportive to the abused parent.” says social work professor Nico Trocme, the study’s principal investigator. Trocme is director of the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare and a processor in U of T’s Faculty of Social Work.

He announced the study’s findings today at the Canada’s Children … Canada’s Future 2002 conference in Toronto.

In contrast to other forms of maltreatment, the number of substantiated cases of child sexual abuse decreased 44 per cent, from approximately 3,400 cases to 1,900.

This could indicate that prevention programs are working, but it is also possible victims and their parents are less willing to report sexual abuse, according to Trocme. The increases in the other categories, he says, may be the result of a combination of factors, including an actual increase in the number of children being maltreated, better detection and reporting and changes in the standards for investigation.

“Greater awareness of child abuse and neglect and the harmful effects of domestic violence are major catalysts behind these increases,” says Bruce Rivers, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. “Additionally, the families we work with have less access to subsidized housing and social supports. When the social safety net starts to fray, it’s the children who slip through first.”

Jeanette Lewis, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, echoes these concerns. “Our statistics show that since 1998, the number of investigations completed by children’s aid societies in Ontario has increased by a further 36 per cent. We are very concerned that the resources of the child welfare system will not be able to keep pace.”

The authors of the report were: Nico Troicme, Bruce Maclarin and Barbara Copp 613-235-4412 x25

— Ontario child abuse

COPYRIGHT 2002 Community Action Publishers

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