35 20th annual crime prevention guide to being abused - or compound the effects of abuse. For example, a child's caregivers may experience barriers that prevent them from acquiring the necessary skills, resources and supports to prevent abuse, or they may lack access to the services and supports they need to address it. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF CHILD ABUSE? Child abuse has devastating consequences for victims. Depending on its form(s), duration and severity, abuse may affect every aspect of a child's life; it may have consequences that are psychological, physical, behavioural, academic, sexual, interpersonal, self-perceptual or spiritual.12 The effects of abuse may appear right away, or surface only in adolescence or adulthood. Further, the effects may differ according to the nature of the response to the abuse, and whether the abuse was disclosed or reported. In some cases, the consequences are fatal. Girls and boys are affected differently by abuse. Compared to boys, girls are more likely to internalize their response to violence, and experience, for example, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, low self-esteem and psychological disorders. Boys are more likely to externalize their response to violence, displaying, for example, increased aggression, delinquency and spousal abuse. Boys who have been exposed to violence in their homes are more likely to be violent in their adolescent and adult relationships than boys not exposed to violence. PREVENTING AND RESPONDING TO CHILD ABUSE In Canada, child welfare laws require that all cases of suspected child abuse must be investigated to determine if a child is in need of protection. If a child is determined to be in need of protection, the child welfare authorities may respond by, for example, providing counseling and support for the family, removing the child (temporarily or permanently) from the home, or removing the abuser(s) from the home. Criminal sanctions may also apply in cases of sexual or physical abuse. Since the 1960s, significant steps have been taken to address child abuse in Canada including, for example: • the introduction of mandatory reporting laws • the creation of child abuse registries • changes to the Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act (see Reforming the law and enhancing its implementation); • the extension of time limits for laying charges in child sexual abuse cases, and • the establishment of child protection agencies run by First Nations. Further, since the landmark reports by Badgley (1984) and Rogers (1990), legislation to address child sexual abuse has been created and efforts to address the sexual exploitation of children are ongoing. Following the 1996 report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the federal government acknowledged its role in the occurrence of physical and sexual abuse in residential schools, and implemented a communitybased healing strategy for Aboriginal communities (Gathering Strength). Given the extent of child abuse in Canada - as well as the complexity of this issue and its enormous impact - effectively preventing, identifying and responding to child abuse is an enormous but essential task. Addressing this issue requires the ongoing commitment and collaboration of community members, practitioners, and policy makers across Canada. Community supports and services for victims and their families are essential. The Department of Justice du Canada and its partners - including non-governmental organizations, provincial and territorial governments and the private sector - are actively involved in addressing child abuse issues through legal reform, public and professional education, research and support for programs and services. Some of this work is linked to the Department's participation in the federal government's current Family Violence Initiative which focuses on violence against women and children that occurs in the home, while other areas of activity are linked to other initiatives including, for example, the National Children's Agenda, the Aboriginal Justice Strategy, and the National Strategy on Crime Prevention and Community Safety. REFORMING THE LAW AND ENHANCING ITS IMPLEMENTATION In Canada, child abuse and exploitation are prohibited by the Criminal Code. For example, offenders may be charged under the Criminal Code for assaulting children. At the provincial/ territorial level, child protection legislation permits intervention to ensure children's safety and welfare. Child Abuse: A fact sheet from the Department of Justice Canada Department of Justice Canada Family Violence Initiative