33 20th annual crime prevention guide • have personal views which condone the use of physical punishment • believe that the abuse is not “serious,” especially if the child does not have visible or severe injuries • believe that reporting the abuse to the authorities is not in the child's best interest • believe that reporting may not solve the problem because, for example, there may be a lack of appropriate services to help the child • lack knowledge about the signs and symptoms of abuse • not understand their responsibility to report abuse • not know that they can report to child welfare agencies, provincial or territorial social services departments or police departments, or • not know that a report can be made anonymously, and that there are no legal consequences, unless the report is false and is made maliciously. Although many cases of abuse are still not reported to either police or child welfare authorities, data from police reports and child welfare authorities is still the most important source of information about child abuse. A recent study, the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS) estimated the extent of child abuse in Canada based on data from child welfare authorities. The CIS is an important milestone in providing a national picture of child abuse. This study collected information about more than 7,000 child welfare investigations conducted across the country during a three-month period in 1998. Based on this data, the CIS estimated that there were 135,573 child maltreatment investigations in Canada in 1998 - a rate of almost 22 investigations for every 1000 children in Canada. Child welfare workers were able to confirm that the abuse had occurred in almost half (45%) of all cases. The key findings of the CIS include: Physical abuse: In 1998, about one third (31%) of investigations involved physical abuse as the primary reason for the investigation. Physical abuse was confirmed in about one third (34 %) of these investigations, a rate of 2.25 cases of confirmed physical abuse for every 1,000 children in Canada. Sexual abuse: One in ten (10%) investigations in 1998 involved sexual abuse as the primary reason for the investigation. Sexual abuse was confirmed in more than one third (38%) of these cases, a rate of 0.86 cases per 1,000 children. Neglect: Neglect was the primary reason for investigation in 40% of all cases in 1998. Neglect was confirmed in 43% of these cases, a rate of 3.66 cases per 1,000 children. Emotional maltreatment: In 1998, 19% of all investigations involved emotional maltreatment as the primary reason for the investigation. Emotional maltreatment was confirmed in more than half (54%) of these cases, a rate of 2.20 cases per 1,000 children. In addition to the CIS findings, the 1999 General Social Survey on Victimization (GSS) provides additional information on the extent to which children are exposed to family violence. The GSS found children in approximately half a million households had either heard or witnessed a parent being assaulted during the five years prior to the survey. WHAT FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO CHILD ABUSE? There is no single, definitive cause of child abuse, and any child - regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, cultural identity, socioeconomic status, spirituality, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities or personality - may be vulnerable to being abused. Child abuse is a complex problem and there are many different contributing factors (individual, familial, social). Many experts believe that child abuse is linked to inequalities among people in our society and the power imbalance between adults and children. A child is usually in a position of dependence on his or her abuser, and has little or no power compared to the abuser. There is increasing understanding that a child's vulnerability to abuse may be increased by factors such as dislocation, colonization, racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty and social isolation. For example, in the past, many children sent to institutions experienced abuse. Most of these children were from marginalized groups in our society including, among others, children with disabilities, children from racial and ethnic minorities, Aboriginal children and children living in poverty. There are also factors that may increase a child's vulnerability Child Abuse: A fact sheet from the Department of Justice Canada Department of Justice Canada Family Violence Initiative