Facts on Child Abuse and Neglect

Statistics on child abuse—emotional, physical, and sexual—and neglect

Emotional abuse

In 2005, UNICEF estimated that between 133–275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in the family.1

Among the types of emotional maltreatment, verbal abuse in the form of name-calling is the most commonly experienced.2

Physical abuse

A study in Ontario found that 31 per cent of males and 21 per cent of females experienced physical abuse during childhood.3


In 2003, neglect was the most common form of child maltreatment reported to social workers in Canada.4

Sexual abuse

Eighty-five per cent of child sexual abuse victims know their sexual abusers.5

In British Columbia, more than one in three street or marginalized youth had been sexually exploited by men and women; males were as likely as females to be sexually exploited; 60 per cent of sexually exploited youth are Aboriginal.6

In a study with Toronto street youth, one-third of these youth had experienced severe physical or sexual abuse or both.7

Young women who had not participated in a school abuse prevention program in childhood were about twice as likely to have experienced child sexual abuse as those who had participated in a prevention program.8

1 Unicef and The Body Shop, 2005, Behind closed doors: The impact of domestic violence on children.

2 Trocmé, Fallon, MacLaurin, Daciuk, Felstiner, Black, Tonmyr, Blackstock, Barter, Turcotte and Cloutier, 2005, Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect—2003: Major findings.

3 Jack, Munn, Cheng and MacMillan, 2006, Child maltreatment in Canada: Overview paper.

4 Trocmé et al., 2005.

5 Oesterreich and Shirer, 2001.

6Saewyc, McKay, Anderson and Drozda, 2008, It’s not what you think: Sexually exploited youth in British Columbia.

7 Fidler, Wekerle and Erickson, 2007, The Youth Pathways Project (YPP): Childhood maltreatment and health outcomes among Toronto street-involved youth.

8 Gibson and Leitenberg, 2000, Child sexual abuse prevention programs: Do they decrease the occurrence of child sexual abuse? Child Abuse and Neglect.