September 25, 2013 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on August 29th that the federal government will introduce new child exploitation legislation that will carry mandatory sentences for convicted child sexual offenders.
“Once the bill has passed, the measures it contains will represent the most comprehensive legislation to combat sex crimes against children ever enacted in this country,” Harper said.
“We are doing this because every victim matters; because every child matters. Every child should be able to live in a vibrant and safe community. Where any child is victimized by a sexual predator, the safety of all our children is called into question.”
The Child Predators Act expands Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, (enacted in March 2012), and will be introduced when Parliament resumes in October. This act will include mandatory minimum and maximum sentences for a variety of sexual crimes convicted on multiple counts will be required to serve their sentences consecutively.
The proposed amendment will also include:
- Notification requirements for offenders on the National Sex Offender Registry who intend to travel outside of Canada.
- Increased information sharing between the police, border officials, and Registry Officials to ensure they are alerted about the travel of high-risk child sex offenders.
- Provisions that would compel the spouse of an accused person to testify against their partner in court.
- Increased penalties for those who violate their parole conditions and ensure that any crime committed while on parole or statutory release would become a mandatory factor in sentencing.
- A publicly accessible national database administered by the RCMP that contains information on high-risk child sex offenders who have been subject to public notification by the provinces and territories.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that 40% of the cases involve four or more charges and that over 50% of all reported sexual assaults in Canada involve children.
"As a father, frankly I think I speak for almost everyone - I cannot even begin to comprehend why those who sexually prey on children do the heinous things that they do, but sadly there are truly evil people out there," Harper said.
"The fact is we don't understand them and we don't particularly care to. We understand only that they must be dealt with. We must deal with them to protect our children."
2010 Statistics of Family Violence in Canada
- 55,173 children and youth aged 17 and under were the victims of police reported non-family violence.
- 18,710 children and youth aged 17 and under were the victims of police-reported family violence.
- 25% of all violent offences are committed against children and youth.
- 50% of all reported sexual offences are committed against children.
- Children and youth were five times more likely than adults to become a victim of sexual offences (212 versus 41 per 100,000), with level 1 sexual assaults accounting for 75% of these sex crimes. Another 22% of sexual offences committed against children and youth were child-specific, including sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, luring a child via a computer, and corrupting children.
- Violence committed by family, friends or acquaintances accounted for 8 in 10 police-reported violent crimes against children and youth. More specifically, 25% of violence against the child and youth population was committed by a family member, including a parent, sibling, extended family member or spouse, while 54% of violent crimes involved other accused known to the victim - casual acquaintances (37%), close friends (7%), dating partners (6%), or another type of acquaintance (4%). The higher proportion of violence committed by someone known to the victim is consistent with previous years. Strangers were the perpetrators in one in five (21%) violent offences against children and youth.
- Higher rates of family homicides among young children may be partly related to young children’s early stages of growth and physical vulnerability to injury. This is particularly possible in cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome, which results from the violent shaking of infants or young children, with or without impact to the head (CDC 2012). Nearly one-third (31%) of family related homicides of infants less than one year of age between 2000 and 2010 were attributed to Shaken Baby Syndrome. Strangulation, suffocation, and drowning accounted for another 25% of infant deaths, while beating was the cause of death in 25% of homicides. Other means, including shootings or stabbings, accounted for 14% of killings of infants by a family member.
- Police-reported rates of family violence were generally higher among older children and youth, though this was not the case for homicides. Between 2000 and 2010, the rate of family homicide was highest among infants under one year of age. Over this same period, the vast majority of homicides of infants and toddlers were committed by parents (98% of family homicides against infants under one year of age and 90% of family homicides of children aged one to three years).
- Family violence was more prevalent among girls than boys (338 victims per 100,000 versus 212 per 100,000). The leading contributor to the higher rates of family violence among girls, particularly as they age, relates to their much higher risk of sexual violence. Girls are four times as likely as boys to be a victim of sexual assault or other sexual offences committed by a family member (134 victims per 100,000 population versus 30 per 100,000 population).
- Child and youth victims were as likely to sustain physical injury by a family member or non-family member (40% versus 37%). This was true for physical and sexual assaults, but was not consistently evident for all offence types.
- Charges were more commonly laid or recommended when a family member was identified as the accused in violence against children or youth, compared to violence not involving family members (45% versus 34%).
- As with non-family violence, males were over-represented as accused persons in incidents of family violence (79%) irrespective of the age and sex of the victim.
- Children and youth were most at risk of police-reported family violence in small cities, towns and rural areas, with a rate more than double the rate recorded for census metropolitan areas.
- Results from the General Social Survey (GSS) indicate that between 2004 and 2009, there was an increase in the proportion of spousal violence victims reporting that children heard or saw assaults on them (from 43% to 52% of spousal victims with children).
- According to the 2009 GSS, children seeing or witnessing spousal violence was most prevalent when the victim was female or was estranged from their legal or common-law spouse.
- The 2009 GSS indicates that parents were almost four times as likely to involve the police when a child witnessed the incident of spousal violence than when children were not present during the spousal violence incident (39% versus 10%).
The statistics above were resourced from Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and the Homicide Survey.
Statistics Canada: Family Violence in Canada - A Statistical Profile, 2010 – released May 2012.