Sources and methodological considerations of the Media Kit on Sexual Assault

Source Abbreviation Responsible body (location, date) Origin of data

Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect

CIS

Public Health Agency of Canada
(Canada, 2019)

Canadian youth welfare services

Québec Incidence Study on situations investigated by child protective services

QIS

Centres jeunesse de Montréal — Institut universitaire Jeunes en difficulté
(Québec, 2014)

Québec youth protection services

Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

UCR 2.2 – Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada
(Canada, 2016 to 2020)

Police services

UCR 2.2 – Ministère de la Sécurité publique

Ministère de la Sécurité publique
(Québec, 2010, 2014, 2019)

General Social Survey on Victimisation

GSS

Statistics Canada
(Canada, 2019)

General population

Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces

SSPPS

Statistics Canada
(Canada, 2018)

General population


Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS)

In Canada, four nation-wide studies have been conducted since 1998 with Canadian child welfare services in order to measure the incidence of reported child abuse. These studies provide information on the number of new and re-opened cases of child abuse reported to and substantiated by these services in a year. The Canadian/First Nations Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect conducted in 2019 included 44 000 investigations using a representative sample of 47 non-Indigenous child welfare services in Canada and 16 Indigenous child welfare organizations outside Québec. The Québec data were derived from the 2019 administrative data of Québec youth protection services. Seventeen of Québec’s 20 organisations were included in the study and their data were adjusted, when possible, according to the variables contained in the data collection instruments used in the rest of Canada.


Québec Incidence Study on situations investigated by child protective services (QIS)

In Québec, five cycles of the Québec Incidence Study on situations investigated by child protective services (QIS) have been conducted with child protection services since 1998. These studies have gathered information from protection services on investigated situations, including the number of sexual abuse cases that have been reported and substantiated by protection services. The number of children in the 2014 data bank is estimated at 4 011 and constitutes a representative sample for Québec as a whole.


Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey

The Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey, which is now at version 2.2, collects detailed information on criminal incidents reported to police services. The information concerns both victims and accused persons. Each year, Statistics Canada and the Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec (MSP) publish Canadian and Québec statistics on police-reported crime using UCR data, making it possible to document the nature of crime and how it changes over time. In 2020, Statistics Canada data were gathered from 155 police services in the 10 provinces and 3 territories. To be included, the offences had to be detected, reported by police, and recorded with the UCR survey1.

Sexual offences according to police data

Sexual offence is a term used to refer to both sexual assault crimes and other sexual offences under the Criminal Code. The Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey contains data on reported crimes substantiated by police across Canada. However, even though Statistics Canada and the Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec present data on sexual offences according to the rules of the UCR 2.2 Survey, they do not always include the same offences in the sexual offences’ category.

Statistics Canada provides statistics on sexual offences, which include sexual assault (levels 1 to 3 under the Criminal Code) and sexual offences against children. The latter include, more specifically, offences provided for in the Criminal Code whose victims are minors (aged 0 to 17), such as sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, luring a child, and making sexually explicit material available to a child. Sexual offences other than those involving sexual assault or sexual offences against children are not included in this category.

The Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec also publishes statistics on sexual offences that include sexual assault (levels 1 to 3 under the Criminal Code), but that differ with regard to other sexual offences reported. In addition to including a list of sexual offences committed against minors, other sexual offences comprise crimes that target not only children, such as the non-consensual publication of intimate images and voyeurism.

Therefore, the police data reported by Statistics Canada and those reported by the Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec must be compared and interpreted with caution, given that neither of these bodies include data pertaining to all of the sexual offences listed in the Criminal Code. It is also important to note that the annual statistics complied by the UCR 2.2 Survey include sexual offences reported in the preceding year, regardless of when they were committed. Statistics derived from the UCR 2.2 Survey and then published include only the most serious offence that occurred during an incident, even when several sexual offences were committed during the same event. Clearly, police data provide only a partial picture of the situation, particularly because sexual offences reported to the police in a year represent only a fraction of all sexual assaults committed.


General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization

The General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization collects information on the criminal victimization experiences of Canadians aged 15 and older for eight offences, including sexual assault. The GSS on Victimization collects information on crimes that are reported or not reported to the police, with unreported experiences accounting for slightly more than two thirds (71%) of criminal victimization incidents in 20192. The GSS on Victimization is conducted every five years and its most recent cycle was conducted in 2019. Considering that the collection method changed in 2019, direct comparison to previous cycles is not recommended.  


Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS)

The Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS) collects information on the experiences of Canadians aged 15 and older in public, at work, online, and in their intimate partner relationships. It was conducted for the first time in 2018. This survey, which will be conducted every five years, collects self-reported data on violent victimization experiences, including sexual assault, whether or not these experiences are reported to the police3.

Measuring sexual assault in population surveys

Child sexual abuse

The General Social Survey on Victimization and the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS) collect data on sexual abuse experienced in childhood, i.e., before the age of 15. The types of sexual abuse documented in these two surveys are very similar and refer to acts of sexual abuse committed solely by adults. More specifically, the acts refer to forced or attempted forced sexual activities (using threats, restraint or infliction of pain) and unwanted sexual contact (including touching, kissing or fondling).

Even though these surveys are population-based, it is important to consider that they probably underestimate the actual prevalence of sexual abuse because they do not document all types of child sexual abuse, such as those that do not include sexual contact and are committed by minors. It is also important to remember that sexual abuse incidents are not all reported in these surveys.

Adult sexual assault

Every five years, Statistics Canada  conducts a cycle of the General Social Survey on Victimization. During the survey, Canadians aged 15 and older are asked three questions about sexual assault offences they had experienced in the last 12 months, whether or not the offences were reported to the police. The following types of sexual assault are documented in the survey: forced or attempted forced sexual activity (threats, restraint or infliction of pain), unwanted sexual contact (touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling) and sexual intercourse without being able to consent (because of being drugged, intoxicated, manipulated or forced in other ways than physically). However, these offences exclude sexual assault incidents between spouses (current or former), which were captured with a different methodology and analyzed in detail in a separate report published in 2019.

Conducted for the first time in 2018, the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces (SSPPS) by Statistics Canada collects data on self-reported sexual assault by Canadians aged 15 and older in the past 12 months and since the age of 15. The types of sexual assault documented in this survey are similar to those used in the GSS on Victimisation (2019): forced or attempted forced sexual activity (threats, restraint or infliction of pain), unwanted sexual contact (touching, grabbing, kissing or fondling) and sexual intercourse  without being able to consent (because of being drugged, intoxicated, manipulated or forced in other ways than physically). Sexual assault between intimate partners, which was the subject of a report published in 2021, was also documented in the SSPPS. It was measured with two questions: coercion to engage in sexual acts against one's will and forced or attempted forced sex.

However, it is important to mention that theses surveys do not include all sexual assault behaviours, such as sexual harassment, and that a number of sexual assaults are not reported in the surveys, which may underestimate the actual prevalence of sexual assault.

 

References

  1. Ministère de la Sécurité publique (2021). Criminalité au Québec - Infractions sexuelles en 2019, [online], Québec, Ministère de la Sécurité publique, <https://cdn-contenu.quebec.ca/cdn-contenu/adm/min/securite-publique/publ... (Retrieved on January 13, 2022).
  2. Cotter, A. (2021). Intimate partner violence in Canada, 2018: An overview, [online], Statistics Canada, « Juristat », <https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2021001/article/00003-eng.htm> (Retrieved on February 28, 2022).
  3. Cotter, A., & L. Savage (2019). Gender-based violence and unwanted sexual behaviour in Canada, 2018: Initial findings from the Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces, [online], Statistics Canada, « Juristat », <https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/85-002-x/2019001/article/00017-eng.htm> (Retrieved on February 28, 2022).

Last update: 

May-12-22