Police-reported sexual offences against children and youth in Canada, 2012

by Adam Cotter and Pascale Beaupré

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Sexual violations against children and youthNote 1 are a pressing concern, both in Canada and internationally (Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights 2011). Not only do these offences have immediate negative physical, emotional, and psychological impacts, they can also have damaging long-term effects on the children and youth who are the victims of these crimes (Dube et al. 2005). In addition, as part of Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill introduced in 2011 by the Canadian government, a number of amendments to the Criminal Code sections concerning sexual offences against children were made, including the introduction or lengthening of mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment for particular offences (Barnett et al. 2012). Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, which passed second reading in the House of Commons on February 26, 2014, also proposes a number of amendments, including increasing maximum and minimum penalties for certain Criminal Code child sexual offences. Furthermore, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (2011) recommended an increased focus on national research and statistical information concerning child and youth victims of sexual offences as part of a national strategy for support, prevention, and services for child and youth victims.

Using data from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey and the Integrated Criminal Court Survey (adult and youth), this Juristat article explores the prevalence and the nature of police-reported sexual offences against children and youth in Canada (see Definitions).  In particular, the rate of victims reported by police, the types of offences, and characteristics of the victims as well as the accused persons are explored. Furthermore, information on the relationship between the victim and the accused, the length of time between the occurrence of an incident and its subsequent reporting to police, and decisions made by adult and youth courts are also analyzed.

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Police-reported sexual offences against children and youth

The data presented in this Juristat represent primarily police-reported statistics, and do not cover non-sexual forms of abuse or violence such as physical assault, neglect, or maltreatment. For these types of violations, the comparability of police-reported data across jurisdictions and over time may be influenced by levels of reporting to police, as well as single incidents that include several victims. Furthermore, analysis is based on the most serious violation in an incident. When reporting data to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, police can include up to four violations in an incident.Note 2 The police-reported violations which provide the basis for this Juristat are those for which victim information is available and reported by police, and as a result excludes some offences which involve sexual violations against children and youth but for which specific information about the victim is not available (see Definitions).

Previous research (Finkelhor et al. 2001; Taylor & Gassner 2010) has indicated that sexual offences tend to be underreported in police statistics for various reasons, including personal trauma, fear of victim-blaming or re-victimization, perceived seriousness, whether the offence was attempted or completed, whether an injury was incurred, whether a weapon was used, attitude towards and previous experience with police and other officials, and the influence of family and friends.

When analyzing sexual offences against children and youth, this underreporting may be compounded for a number of reasons. Children and youth who are the victims of violence often do not report it, as they may be unable to do so or afraid to report to authorities (United Nations 2006). Some children and youth may not understand certain behaviours as crimes or as matters for the criminal justice system (Kuoppamaki et al. 2011). When children and youth are victimized, particularly when it comes to very young and dependent children, reporting often depends on an adult bringing the offence to the attention of police (Finkelhor et al. 2001).

While this Juristat focuses on child and youth victims of sexual offences, it is also important to note that, within this population, differences exist.  For example, younger children are less independent and, as a result, more frequently victims of violence from family members compared to older youth, who encounter a broader range of people and environments in their day-to-day lives (Ogrodnik 2010). Similarly, younger children often lack social networks or contact outside of the family, which can impact not only their everyday lives but also their ability to report violations to the police.

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Children and youth more frequently victims of sexual offences than adults

There were approximately 14,000 child and youth victims of sexual offences in Canada in 2012, a rate of 205 victims for every 100,000 children and youth. Roughly one in five (21%) offences with a child or youth victim reported to police in 2012 was a sexual offence. In contrast, 4% of all offences with an adult victim in Canada in 2012 were sexual offences. Victims between the ages of 18 to 24 recorded the next highest rate of sexual offences (140 per 100,000 population), and rates steadily decreased thereafter, reaching 6 per 100,000 population for those victims age 55 and over.

After peaking at 215 victims for every 100,000 children and youth in 2010, the rate of sexual offences against children and youth has decreased for two consecutive years (Chart 1).Note 3 The rate in 2012 was similar to the rate of police-reported sexual offences against children and youth in 2009.

Chart 1

Description for chart 1

Children and youth are disproportionately the victims of police-reported sexual offences. The majority (55%) of victims of police-reported sexual offences were between the ages of 0 and 17. In 2012, children and youth under the age of 18 comprised 20% of the total Canadian population. Similarly, children and youth accounted for about one-fifth (18%) of all victims of crimes against the person in 2012.

Level 1 sexual assault most common violation against children and youth

While there are some Criminal Code offences which, by definition, require that the victim is under the age of 18 (see Definitions), these offences account for a minority of all child and youth victims of sexual offences. Roughly three-quarters (72%) of sexual offences against children and youth in 2012 were level 1 sexual assault. This represented a rate of 148 child and youth victims of level 1 sexual assault for every 100,000 children and youth in the population (Table 1; Chart 2). Level 1 sexual assault was also the most frequent violation against adult victims of sexual offences (93%).

Chart 2

Description for chart 2

A small proportion (1%) of child and youth victims of sexual offences were victims of level 2 (with a weapon or causing bodily harm) or level 3 (aggravated) sexual assault. The remaining (27%) victims of sexual offences against children and youth were victims of a violation that typically applies to incidents involving victims under the age of 18. Sexual interference, with a rate of 35 victims for every 100,000 children and youth, was the most common of these violations.

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Police-reported child prostitution and child pornography

In addition to the offences for which information on the victims is available, there are other offences for which this specific information is not available but likewise involve children and youth in sexual situations: living off the avails of prostitution of a person under 18, procuring prostitution, obtaining/communicating with a person under 18 for the purpose of sex, and the production and distribution of child pornographyNote 4 (see Definitions).

For the majority of sexual offences involving children and youth, victim information is available to and reported by police. Compared to the roughly 14,000 such victims in 2012, there were approximately 2,000 incidents investigated by Canadian police services where the most serious offence was a sexual violation of a child or youth without particular victim information available.

As previously stated, the analysis in this report is based upon the most serious offence in an incident. However, when looking at all offences reported within an incident, in order to capture incidents where a child pornography or child prostitution offence was not the most serious offence in an incident, the same trend is evident. There were 2,293 incidents where police reported a child pornography or child prostitution related offence as at least one violation within the incident; the majority (92%) involved the production and/or distribution of child pornography.

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Rates of police-reported sexual offences against children and youth highest in the territories

The prevalence of police-reported sexual offences against children and youth varies across the country. Similar to crime in general (Perreault 2013), rates of sexual offences against children and youth were highest in the territories in 2012 (Table 2). The Northwest Territories (895 per 100,000 population) and Nunavut (878 per 100,000) recorded the highest rates in Canada in 2012, followed by Yukon (514 per 100,000) (Chart 3).

Chart 3

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Among the provinces, Manitoba (316 per 100,000 child and youth population) and Saskatchewan (306 per 100,000) recorded the highest rates of sexual offences against children and youth. In contrast, Alberta (200 per 100,000), British Columbia (192 per 100,000) and Ontario (170 per 100,000) recorded the lowest rates. Across all provinces and territories, the rate of sexual offences against children and youth peaked between the ages of 12 and 15, with a national rate of 399 victims per 100,000 population for this age group.

Saguenay CMA records highest rate of sexual offences against children and youth

Just as there is variation between the provinces and territories, Canada’s census metropolitan areasNote 5 (CMAs) report varying rates of sexual offences against children and youth. In 2012, Saguenay’s rate of child and youth sexual offences (523 per 100,000 child and youth population) was the highest among CMAs, followed by Kingston (350) and Moncton (312) (Chart 4). Saguenay also ranks highest among CMAs when it comes to family violence against children and youth (Sinha 2013).

Chart 4

Description for chart 4

In comparison, the lowest rates among CMAs were reported by Ottawa (114), Barrie (113), and Toronto (109). Canada’s three largest CMAs, Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver, each had rates of child and youth sexual offences that were below the national rate of 205 per 100,000 child and youth population.

Furthermore, rates of sexual offences against children and youth were higher in non-CMAs compared to CMAs (Table 3). For all children and youth under the age of 18, the rate of sexual offences was about twice as high in non-CMAs than for CMAs as a whole (301 per 100,000 children and youth population compared to 159). The difference in rates between CMAs and non-CMAs was consistent for youth between the ages of 0 and 11 years and those between the ages of 12 and 17.

Victims of police-reported sexual offences typically in their early teens; female

While children and youth are more frequently the victims of sexual offences than adults, not all children and youth are victims at the same rate. In 2012, the rate of sexual offences generally increased with age until peaking at 14 (466 per 100,000 population). Following this peak in the early-teenage years, the rate decreases with age (Chart 5).

Chart 5

Description for chart 5

In addition to the variation by age among child and youth victims of sexual offences, there is variation by sex. The majority (81%) of child and youth victims of sexual offences in 2012 were female, a finding that was consistent across all ages. Although girls were more frequently the victims of sexual offences across all ages, the age at which the rate of sexual offences peaked differed for males and females (Chart 6).

Chart 6

Description for chart 6

For girls, the rates of sexual offences generally increased with age before peaking at age 14 (849 victims per 100,000 population). In contrast, the rates for boys were relatively consistent between the ages of 5 and 15 years, before decreasing for 16- and 17-year-old victims. The peak age at which boys were victims of sexual offences was 8 (109 per 100,000 population).

Manitoba (541 per 100,000 female children and youth) and Saskatchewan (528 per 100,000 female children and youth) likewise had the highest rates of female child and youth victims of sexual offences among the provinces in 2012, above the national rate of 341 per 100,000 female children and youth (Table 4). Looking at the rate of male children and youth who were victims of police-reported sexual offences, the highest rates among the provinces were recorded in the eastern provinces of New Brunswick (134 per 100,000 male children and youth) and Nova Scotia (103 per 100,000), compared to the Canadian rate of 75 per 100,000 male children and youth.

Most child and youth victims of sexual offences know the accused person

Similar to crime in general, most child and youth victims of sexual offences knew the person accused of the offence. About nine in ten (88%) of all sexual offences were committed by an individual known to the victim, with the remainder (12%) committed by a stranger. More specifically, the accused person was an acquaintanceNote 6 of the victim in 44% of incidents, a family member in 38% of incidents, and an intimate partnerNote 7 6% of the time.

Based on police-reported data, very young children were mostly victimized by a family member while older children were most frequently victimized by an acquaintance or stranger. For those age 0 to 3 years, a family member was the accused person for two-thirds (66%) of victims. The involvement of family members as accused persons decreased with age, reaching 19% for victims aged 16 to 17 years of age (Table 5).

In contrast, the proportion of acquaintances and strangers accused of a sexual offence against a child or youth victim increased as the age of the victim increased. An acquaintance was the accused person for 3 in 10 (30%) 0 to 3 year old victims, compared to over half (53%) for those age 16 and 17. While a stranger was the accused person for 4% of all 0 to 3 year old victims in 2012, strangers accounted for one in five (19%) of all accused persons for victims who were 16 or 17 years of age. These shifting proportions may be related to the more diverse environments and individuals older youth encounter on a daily basis compared to younger children, who tend to be less independent (Ogrodnik 2010).

Sexual offences against children and youth often delayed in coming to attention of police

The UCR Survey collects data on Criminal Code offences as they are reported to and substantiated by police. This means that annual police-reported crime statistics can include some criminal offences that occurred in previous years. When looking at all offences against the person reported to police in 2012, the large majority occurred in that same year. In comparison, delayed reporting to police seems to be more prevalent among sexual offences against children and youth.

One-quarter (26%) of all sexual offences against children and youth reported to police in 2012 occurred in a previous year, compared to one in ten (9%) sexual violations against adults, and less than one percent of non-sexual violations against children and youth.Note 8

There are delays in the offence coming to the attention of police for a larger proportion of male victims than female victims. Of the sexual offences that came to the attention of police in 2012, two-thirds (67%) of those involving a male child or youth victim occurred during 2012, while three-quarters (76%) of those involving female child or youth victims occurred in 2012.  The proportion of incidents which occurred in the previous ten years was similar for both males and females, while male victims more frequently had a delay in reporting of more than 10 years compared to females (17% versus 7%). This suggests that some victims may be adults when they report their childhood victimization to the police.

Although males comprise a minority of victims of sexual offences, they may be more hesitant than females to report sexual offences to police or other authorities. An analysis of the self-reported United States’ National Crime Victimization Survey noted that 30% of female victims of sexual offences reported the crime to police or other authorities, compared to 15% of male victims (Weiss 2010). For both males and females, delayed disclosure and avoidance of the incident may serve as coping strategies following a sexual offence (Easton 2013). Thus, while females represent the majority of victims of sexual offences, males may be more likely to fail to report or delay reporting the incident to police.

In addition, differences in reporting to police are noted when analyzing the relationship between the victim and the accused person. For example, data reported by Canadian police services show that 91% of sexual offences against children or youth committed by strangers were reported to police in the year in which they occurred. Similarly, a large proportion of sexual offences against children and youth committed by intimate partners (85%) or acquaintances (81%) both occurred and were reported to police in 2012. In contrast, however, sexual offences against children and youth committed by family members and authority figures most commonly result in delays in reporting to police. Roughly four in ten (37% for family members, 41% for authority figures) of such offences reported to police in 2012 occurred in previous years (data not shown).

Delays in reporting also vary by the age of the victim at the time of the offence. Delays were most frequently noted when the victim was 8 (45% of offences occurred in previous years), 9 (44%), or 10 (42%) years of age when the offence took place. The proportion of incidents which occurred in previous years then declined consistently with age, reaching 13% for 17-year-olds. For younger children, there were delays in reporting for 22% of victims between the ages of 0 and 3 at the time of the offence, and 29% for those victims between 4 and 7 years of age.

One-third of sexual offences against children or youth committed by another youth

When children and youth were the victims of a sexual offence, the accused person was frequently someone close to their age.Note 9 In 2012, the rates of persons accused of sexual offences against children and youth peaked at 13 (117 per 100,000) and 14 (115 per 100,000) years of age, and thereafter declined generally with age (Chart 7).

Chart 7

Description for chart 7

While the rates of accused persons generally decreased after peaking at age 14, there was a slight increase in the rate of accused persons who were in their late 20s and 30s. Roughly half (51%) of all persons accused of a sexual offence against a child or youth were over the age of 25, a proportion that peaked when the victim was between the ages of 0 and 3 years (61%).

Three in ten (30%) of those accused of sexual offences against children and youth were under the age of 18 (Table 6). When the victim was under the age of 12, the accused person was most commonly between the ages of 12 and 17 (39%). When the victim was between the ages of 12 and 17, the accused person was most frequently between the ages of 12 and 17 or 18 and 24 years (both 25%).

However, there was some variation in the age of accused persons when looking more specifically at the age groups of victims. For example, when the victim was between the ages of 0 to 3 years, the accused person was most often between the ages of 12 and 15 years (25%), 25 to 34 years (22%), or 35 to 44 years (22%). In contrast, when the victim was between the ages of 4 and 6, almost half (46%) of accused persons were between the ages of 12 and 15 years. When victims of sexual offences against children and youth were ages 16 or 17, the majority (82%) of accused persons were over the age of 18.

Many sexual offences against children and youth where a youth was the accused involved family members. When the accused was between the ages of 12 and 17 and the victim was under the age of 12, the accused person was most frequently a family member (59%), such as a sibling, cousin, or other extended family, while about four in ten (37%) accused persons were acquaintances. As the age of the victims increased, the most common type of relationship shifted. An acquaintance was the accused person in almost two-thirds (63%) of offences involving a youth accused and a victim between the ages of 12 and 17, and a further 15% involved an intimate partner relationship (data not shown).

Majority of persons accused of sexual offences against children and youth are male

While about three-quarters (78%) of persons accused of any type of offence against the person in Canada are male, a significantly higher proportion of those accused of a sexual offence against a child or youth victim are male.Note 10 In 2012, 97% of persons accused of a sexual offence against a child or youth were male, compared to 3% who were female (data not shown).

Eight in ten (81%) sexual offences against children and youth involved a male accused and a female victim. A smaller proportion (16%) involved a male accused and a male victim. A female accused person and a female (2%) or male (2%) victim accounted for the remainder of sexual offences against children and youth.Note 11

Most sexual offences against children and youth occur in a private residence

The majority of police-reported sexual offences against children and youth occurred in a private residence in 2012. About three-quarters (74%) took place in a private residence, compared to about 4 in 10 (42%) non-sexual offences against children and youth (data not shown).

In addition, younger children were more frequently victims of a sexual offence that occurred in a private residence than older children. For those victims aged 0 to 3 years, 90% of offences took place in a private residence, a proportion which decreased with age, reaching 65% for those victims ages 16 to 17 years.

Small proportion of homicides of children and youth motivated by sexual violence

In addition to the information collected by the UCR Survey, the Homicide Survey collects data on victim, accused, and incident characteristics, including the motivation for homicide. Since 2005, there have been 13 child and youth victims of homicide where the homicide was motivated by sexual violence. These accounted for 3% of child and youth homicides with a known motive.Note 12 Over the same period, there were 68 adult victims of homicide motivated by sexual violence, or 2% of homicides with an adult victim and a known motive.Note 13

Of the 13 child and youth victims of homicide motivated by sexual violence, 12 were female. In 9 incidents, the homicide was committed by a single accused person. In addition, the most common location for a homicide of a child or youth motivated by sexual violence since data became available in 2005 was an open area, such as a field, park, or playground (5 incidents) or a private home (5 incidents) (data not shown).

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Sexual offences against children and youth in adult criminal and youth courts

Both adult criminal courts and youth courts in Canada process cases involving persons accused of sexual offences against children and youth. When looking at the subset of sexual offences for which it is possible to identify a child or youth victimNote 14, there were almost 1,800 completed cases in adult criminal and youth courts involving an individual accused of a sexual offence against a child or youth in 2011/2012 (Table 7). Of these, three-quarters (74%) resulted in a finding of guilt, with the offence of luring a child resulting in the highest proportion of guilty findings (83%). In comparison, of all cases completed in Canada in 2011/2012, 57% of youth court cases resulted in a guilty finding, as did 64% of all adult criminal court cases (Boyce 2013; Dauvergne 2013).

The types of sentences differed somewhat between adults and youth found guilty of a sexual offence against a child or youth. For adults, the most frequently imposed sentenceNote 15 in 2011/2012 was custody (81%), followed by probation (75%) (Table 8). Approximately two-thirds (67%) of all youth found guilty, on the other hand, received a sentence of probation. Other sentences, including counselling programs, essays, and apologies, among others, were the next most common sentences for youth (20%). About one in ten (9%) youth found guilty of a sexual offence against a child or youth was sentenced to custody.

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Sexual offences against children and youth and re-offending

Although measuring recidivism, or recontact, with the criminal justice system is challenging (Webster, Gartner, & Doob 2006), there has been much research exploring the prevalence with which persons accused of sexual offences against children and youth reoffend.

While the data from the UCR Survey does not presently allow for analysis of repeat or multiple contact with police, academic research has reached differing conclusions about the rate of recontact or recidivism of sexual offenders. One study, looking at adult men in Canada convicted of a sexual offence against an adult (n=86) or a child (n=500), found that 16.7% of these men were subsequently charged or convicted of another sexual offence (against a victim of any age) (Kingston & Bradford 2013).  An aggregated analysis of research on sex offender recidivism found an average recidivism rate of 12.7% for sex offenders against children over an average follow-up period of 4 to 5 years; however, there was considerable variation in the rates found in the studies (Hanson & Bussière 1998).

A review of a number of studies with varying definitions of recidivism noted that the average recidivism rate found for sex offenders was 24% over a follow-up period of 15 years; the highest rate of recidivism found in their review was 35.5%, for a sample comprised of offenders who had sexually offended against children over a follow-up period of 23 years (Harris & Hanson 2004). Further analysis of the studies also revealed that, over a 15 year follow-up period, the category of sex offenders with the highest rate of recidivism was those who offended against boys under the age of 18 (35% were re-convicted). However, the majority of sex offenders were not re-arrested or re-charged for a sexual offence. The difficulties in consistently measuring and defining recidivism or recontact highlight the need for continuing research in order to improve understanding of the issue.

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Summary

More than half (55%) of police-reported sexual offences in Canada involve a child or youth victim. There were approximately 14,000 children and youth who were the victims of a sexual offence in Canada in 2012, or a rate of 205 victims for every 100,000 children and youth.  Of these offences, the majority (72%) were level 1 sexual assault. Similar to crime rates in general, rates of sexual offences against children and youth were highest in the territories, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

The large majority (81%) of child and youth victims of sexual offences are female. Across all ages, females were the victims of sexual offences at a higher rate than males, with the rate for girls peaking at 14 years of age and the rate for boys peaking at 8 years of age. In addition, the majority (97%) of those accused of a sexual offence against a child or youth were male. Rates of accused persons peaked at 13 and 14 years of age.

Three-quarters (74%) of cases in adult criminal and youth courts involving sexual offences against children result in a finding of guilt. In 2011/2012, child luring was the offence with the highest proportion of guilty findings.  

Definitions

In this Juristat, sexual offences against children and youth include any sexual offence where the victim is between 0 and 17 years of age (see Table 1 for a detailed breakdown of offences). In Canada, a range of criminal acts are defined as sexual offences in the Criminal Code. The primary offences included in this Juristat article are those for which victim information is consistently available to and reported by police.

Offences for which victim information is available

Sexual assault (level 1) (section 271) is a hybridNote 16 offence that criminalizes assault of a sexual nature that involves a violation of the sexual integrity of the complainant. The maximum penalties are 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 18 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. If the victim is under the age of 16 years, mandatory minimum penalties of one year apply if prosecuted by indictment and 90 days if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm (level 2) (section 272) is an indictable offence that criminalizes sexual assault involving a weapon, bodily harm or threats to cause bodily harm to a third party. The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment and mandatory minimum penalties apply, including a 5 year mandatory minimum penalty where the victim is under 16 years of age.

Aggravated sexual assault (level 3) (section 273) is an indictable offence that criminalizes sexual assault involving wounding, maiming, disfiguring or endangering the life of the complainant. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment. Mandatory minimum penalties apply, including a 5 year mandatory minimum penalty where the victim is under 16 years of age.

Sexual interference (section 151) is a hybrid offence that criminalizes touching a person under the age of 16 years for a sexual purpose. The maximum penalties are 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 18 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. Mandatory minimum penalties of one year apply if prosecuted by indictment and 90 days if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Invitation to sexual touching (section 152) is a hybrid offence that criminalizes inviting, counseling or inciting a person under the age of 16 to touch the body of any person for a sexual purpose. The maximum penalties are 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 18 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. Mandatory minimum penalties of one year apply if prosecuted by indictment and 90 days if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Sexual exploitation (section 153) is a hybrid offence that criminalizes touching a person who is 16 or 17 years old for a sexual purpose or inviting, counseling or inciting that person to touch the body of any person for a sexual purpose, if the person who commits the offence is in a position of trust or authority toward the young person or if the young person is in an exploitative relationship or in a relationship of dependency with the person who commits the offence. The maximum penalties are 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 18 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. Mandatory minimum penalties of one year apply if prosecuted by indictment and 90 days if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Incest (section 155) is an indictable offence that criminalizes engaging in sexual intercourse with a blood relation, including parents, children, siblings and grandparents. The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment and a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years applies where the victim is under 16 years of age.

Corrupting children (section 172) is an indictable offence which can result in a maximum of two years of imprisonment in cases where an individual under 18 is endangered or living in an unfit home due to the actions or behaviour of an adult. Charges may be laid under this section of the Criminal Code only if instituted by a recognized society for the protection of children or an officer of a juvenile court.

Making sexually explicit material available to children (section 171.1) is a hybrid offence that criminalizes transmitting, making available, distributing or selling sexually explicit material to a child to facilitate the commission of a sexual offence against a child. The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 6 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. Mandatory minimum penalties of 90 days apply if prosecuted by indictment and 30 days if prosecuted by summary conviction. This offence was enacted in August 2012.

Luring a child via a computer (section 172.1) and Agreement or arrangement – sexual offence against child (section 172.2) are separate Criminal Code sections counted together in the UCR Survey. Luring a child via a computer is a hybrid offence that criminalizes communicating with a child by any means of telecommunication to facilitate the commission of a sexual offence against the child. Agreement or arrangement is a hybrid offence that criminalizes agreeing or making an arrangement with a person by means of telecommunication to commit a sexual offence against a child. This offence was enacted in August 2012. For each of these offences, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 18 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. Mandatory minimum penalties of one year apply if prosecuted by indictment and 90 days if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Anal intercourse (section 159) is a hybrid offence that criminalizes engaging in an act of anal intercourse.  The offence does not apply to acts engaged in, in private, by a husband and wife or persons who are above the age of 18 years and who consent to the act.  The maximum penalties are 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 6 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. This offence has been found to be unconstitutional and of no force and effect in many jurisdictionsNote 17, but may still be charged, for example, in cases involving allegations of historical sexual abuse.

Bestiality in the Presence of or by a Child (subsection 160(3)) is a hybrid offence that criminalizes committing bestiality in the presence of a person under the age of 16 years and inciting a person under the age of 16 years to commit bestiality. The maximum penalties are 10 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and two years less a day if prosecuted summarily. Mandatory minimum penalties of one year apply if prosecuted by indictment and 6 months if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Voyeurism (section 162) is a hybrid offence that criminalizes surreptitiously observing or making a visual recording of a person in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Printing, copying, publishing, distributing, circulating, selling, advertising or making available such a visual recording also constitute an offence. The maximum penalties are 5 years imprisonment if prosecuted by indictment and 6 months if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Sexual violations against children and youth for which victim information is not available

The offences listed below are sexual violations against children and youth for which victim characteristics are not provided by police through the UCR Survey. As the universe of analysis for this Juristat is victims and their characteristics, the following violations are not included in the analysis. Please see text box 2 for information on child prostitution and child pornography.

Living off the avails of prostitution of a person under 18 (subsections 212(2) and (2.1)) is an indictable offence that criminalizes living wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person who is under the age of eighteen years. The maximum penalty is 14 years and mandatory minimum penalties of 5 years apply where violence, intimidation or coercion is used, and 2 years in all other cases.

Procuring prostitution (paragraphs 212(a) to (j)) involves several offences which can apply to adults or children and youth (for example, living off avails of prostitution, soliciting a person for the purpose of having illicit sexual intercourse with another person, knowingly concealing a person in a common bawdy-house, etc.). In addition, there are two violations specific to children and youth that the UCR Survey classifies as procuring:

  • Parent or guardian procuring sexual activity (section 170) is an indictable offence that criminalizes parents and guardians of persons under the age of 18 years who procure that young person for the purposes of engaging in illegal sexual activity. If the young person is under the age of 16 years, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment and the mandatory minimum penalty is one year. If the young person is 16 or 17 years of age, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment and the mandatory minimum penalty 6 months.
  • Householder permitting sexual activity (section 171) is an indictable offence that criminalizes owners, occupiers or managers of premises who permit a person under the age of 18 years to be on their premises for the purposes of engaging in illegal sexual activity. If the young person is under the age of 16 years, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment and the mandatory minimum penalty is 6 months. If the young person is 16 or 17 years of age, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and the mandatory minimum penalty 90 days.

The UCR Survey collects information on these two offences under one broad violation of procuring. Therefore, although these two specific offences apply only to children and youth, the UCR violation of procuring also includes offences involving adults. As a result, these offences are not included in this Juristat.

Obtaining/communicating with a person under 18 for the purpose of sex (section 212(4)) involves consideration, or communication with anyone for the purpose of obtaining for consideration, the sexual services of a person who is under the age of eighteen years. This is an indictable offence with a minimum punishment of six months of imprisonment and a maximum term of 5 years.

Child pornography (section 163.1) creates 4 hybrid offences that criminalize making, distributing, possessing and accessing child pornography. The maximum penalty for making or distributing child pornography is 10 years if prosecuted by indictment and two years less a day if prosecuted by summary conviction. Mandatory minimum penalties of one year apply, if prosecuted by indictment and 6 months if prosecuted by summary conviction. The maximum penalty for possessing or accessing child pornography is 5 years if prosecuted by indictment and 18 months if prosecuted by summary conviction.  Mandatory minimum penalties of 6 months apply if prosecuted by indictment and 90 days if prosecuted by summary conviction.

Survey descriptions

Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

The Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) Survey collects detailed information on criminal incidents that have come to the attention of, and have been substantiated by, Canadian police services. Information includes characteristics pertaining to incidents (weapon, location), victims (age, sex, accused-victim relationships) and accused persons (age, sex). In 2012, data represented police services covering 99% of the population of Canada.

The UCR2 Trend Database (2009 to 2012) represents police services covering 99% of the population of Canada. Analysis of this four-year trend database is limited to a subset of offences. Offences where the victim information reported is complete are included in the subset, while incomplete records are excluded. In addition, offences are limited to those which have been classified in a consistent manner over the four-year period.

Homicide Survey

The Homicide Survey collects police-reported data on the characteristics of all homicide incidents, victims and accused persons in Canada. The Homicide Survey began collecting information on all murders in 1961 and was expanded in 1974 to include all incidents of manslaughter and infanticide. Although details on these incidents are not available prior to 1974, counts are available from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and are included in the historical aggregate totals.

Whenever a homicide becomes known to police, the investigating police service completes the survey questionnaires, which are then sent to Statistics Canada. There are cases where homicides become known to police months or years after they occurred. These incidents are counted in the year in which they become known to police. Information on persons accused of homicide are only available for solved incidents (i.e. where at least one accused has been identified). Accused characteristics are updated as homicide cases are solved and new information is submitted to the Homicide Survey. For incidents involving more than one accused, only the relationship between the victim and the closest accused is recorded.

Integrated Criminal Court Survey

The Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) is administered by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (Statistics Canada) in collaboration with provincial and territorial government departments responsible for criminal courts in Canada. The survey collects statistical information on adult and youth court cases involving Criminal Code and other federal statute offences.

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Child and youth victims of police-reported sexual offences, by type of offence and age group of victim, Canada, 2012

Table 2 Child and youth victims of police-reported sexual offences, by age group of victim and province or territory, Canada, 2012

Table 3 Child and youth victims of police-reported sexual offences, by age group of victim and census metropolitan areas, 2012

Table 4 Child and youth victims of police-reported sexual offences, by sex, age group, and province or territory, Canada, 2012

Table 5 Child and youth victims of police-reported sexual offences, by accused-victim relationship and age group of victim, Canada, 2012

Table 6 Victims and accused persons, sexual offences against children and youth, by age group, Canada, 2012

Table 7 Number of completed cases in adult criminal and youth courts, by type of decision and child sexual offences, Canada, 2011/2012

Table 8 Number of completed cases in adult criminal and youth courts by type of sentence for child sexual offences, Canada, 2009/2010 to 2011/2012

References

Barnett, L., Dupuis, T., Kirkby, C., MacKay, R., Nicol, J., & Béchard, J. (2012). Legislative Summary: Bill C-10: An Act to enact the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act and to amend the State Immunity Act, the Criminal Code, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other Acts. Library of Parliament: Ottawa, Canada.

Boyce, J. (2013). Adult criminal court statistics in Canada, 2011/2012. Juristat. Statistics Canada. Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Dauvergne, M. (2013). Youth court statistics in Canada, 2011/2012. Juristat. Statistics Canada. Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Dube, S.R., Anda, R.F., Whitfield, C.L., Brown, D.W., Felitti, V.J., Dong, M., & Giles, W.H. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 28(5), 430-438.

Easton, S.D. (2013). Disclosure of child sexual abuse among adult male survivors. Clinical Social Work Journal, 41, 344-355.

Finkelhor, D., Wolak, J., & Berliner, L. (2001). Police reporting and professional help seeking for child crime victims: A review. Child Maltreatment, 6(1), 17-30.

Hanson, R.K. & Bussière, M.T. (1998). Predicting relapse: A meta-analysis of sexual offender recidivism studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66(2), 348-362.

Harris, A.J.R. & Hanson, R.K. (2004). Sex offender recidivism: A simple question. Ottawa: Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.

Kingston, D.A. & Bradford, J.M. (2013). Hypersexuality and recidivism among sexual offenders. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 20, 91-105.

Kuoppamaki, S-M., Kaariainen, J., & Ellonen, N. (2011). Physical violence against children reported to the police: Discrepancies between register-based data and child victim survey. Violence and Victims, 26(2), 257-268.

Ogrodnik, L. (2010). Child and youth victims of police-reported violence crime, 2008. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series. Statistics Canada. Catalogue no. 85F0033M, no. 23.

Perreault, S. (2013). Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2012. Juristat. Statistics Canada. Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Sinha, M. (2013). Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2011. Juristat. Statistics Canada. Catalogue no. 85-002-X.

Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. (2011). The sexual exploitation of children in Canada: The need for national action. 41st Parliament – 1st Session. Ottawa, Canada.

Taylor, S.C. & Gassner, L. (2010). Stemming the flow: Challenges for policing adult sexual assault with regard to attrition rates and under-reporting of sexual offences. Police Practice and Research, 11(3), 240-255.

United Nations. (2006). World Report on Violence Against Children. Geneva. United Nations Publishing Services.

Webster, C.M., Gartner, R., & Doob, A.N. (2006). Results by design: The artefactual construction of high recidivism rates for sex offenders. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 48(1), 79-93.

Weiss, K.G. (2010). Male sexual victimization: Examining men’s experiences of rape and sexual assault. Men and Masculinities, 12(3), 275-298.

Notes

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