From Thu Apr 5 16:32:12 2001
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2001 22:45:16 -0500 (CDT)
From: (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Child Abuse study released
Organization: PACH
Article: 117899
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Abuse study released

By Marlene Habib, The Canadian Press, 4 April 2001

TORONTO (CP)—Neglect and emotional abuse are far more common forms of child maltreatment than physical harm, says a study released Tuesday.

The study—a three-month investigation of cases reported to child-welfare agencies in 1998—found there were 135,500 investigations in Canada of children who were abused and-or neglected.

The numbers don't include cases not reported to child-welfare agencies, said Nico Trocme, lead author of the study involving six universities.

In a sense, what we're reporting on in the study is the tip of the iceberg, with many unreported and unknown cases still below the surface, said Trocme, director of the University of Toronto's Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare.

The number of investigated abuse cases in the study accounts for about two per cent of Canadian children, the authors note.

Almost 60 per cent of the cases involved suspected neglect (lack of supervision and failure to provide proper nutrition and clothing) and possible emotional abuse (verbal abuse and exposure to family violence). Ten per cent were for suspected sexual abuse and 31 per cent were for possible physical abuse.

Trocme, a professor of social work, said Tuesday that close to half the investigations into all forms of abuse were confirmed, meaning there was enough evidence to conclude the child was a victim.

The release of the report is timely. A coroner's inquest in Toronto is investigating the starving death of five-week-old Jordan Heikamp in a shelter for abused women on June 23, 1997.

The study has confirmed our day-to-day experience in protecting children, says Carolyn Buck of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto.

We are hearing about these tragic situations more frequently than in the past few years, and it is clear that these are the horrible experiences of far too many children. We must turn our minds to preventing child maltreatment and to equipping today's children to become capable parents of tomorrow.

The study, says Trocme, is the first step in the development of a national surveillance system for child maltreatment that will help to develop public policies and programs to protect young people.

He said figures from the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies show that the number of cases of abuse has increased significantly in the last five years.

Future analysis of the findings of the study will hopefully help us understand the reasons for the increase in reported child abuse and neglect.

The study found more than half the victims of physical abuse—hitting a child once, or a pattern of hitting—were boys between 12 and 15. About 70 per cent of the victims of sexual abuse were girls, with those four to seven, and 12 to 15 most affected.

Neglect—emotional, psychological or physical—and emotional maltreatment --verbal threats, social isolation, intimidation and-or exploitation—were evenly distributed between boys and girls.

Failure to supervise a child which could lead to physical harm represented the majority of suspected neglect cases—48 per cent. Exposure to family violence—at 58 per cent—was the most common form of suspected emotional maltreatment.

Other partners in the study, funded by Health Canada, were the University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, the University of Montreal, the University of Quebec and Memorial University in St. John's, Nfld.