Exposure Urged Of Link Between Sexual, Substance
by Sue Bailey, Canadian
Press, (05 Oct 2005)
Chronicle Herald Canada
OTTAWA - Public Health
Minister Carolyn Bennett says governments
must openly confront links between drug and
alcohol addiction and the sexual abuse of
"We cannot deal with things that we're
afraid to talk about," Bennett told a news
conference Tuesday as a national study was
released on child abuse and neglect.
"We actually have to begin to take on the
links that we know of between incest and
alcohol and drug abuse. This is huge."
The Canadian Incidence Study of Reported
Child Abuse and Neglect says confirmed
sexual abuse cases dropped in 2003 to 2,935
from 4,322 in 1998.
But Bennett says there's concern that the
drop may only illustrate increasing
reluctance to report sexual abuse.
Hard-line treatment of child molestation as
a police matter could be scaring victims
into silence because they are often abused
by someone they know and love, experts say.
Results were culled from reports filed over
three months by 63 child welfare agencies -
excluding Quebec, where data was compiled
Lead researcher Nico Trocme says results of
the $800,000 project, mostly funded by the
federal Public Health Department, are
"It could be very good news or it could mean
that we need to soften our approach.
"We need to do more research."
Eighteen-year-olds should be surveyed to
gauge the rate at which they're reporting or
covering up abuse, Trocme suggested in an
Bennett stressed that sex abuse has major
repercussions on a child's development and
the likelihood they'll turn to drugs and
alcohol later on.
"Of particular concern, as we know,
aboriginal children are disproportionately
represented among the victims of child
maltreatment known to child welfare
Childhood sexual abuse is a common trait
shared by hundreds of native women, many of
them drug-addicted, who have been murdered
or gone missing across Canada since 1985.
Many native communities are still suffering
the fallout from more than three generations
of physical and sexual abuse suffered in
federal residential schools. Ottawa
acknowledged in 1998 that abuse in the
church-run schools was rampant.
A federal researcher who specializes in
aboriginal issues says child welfare workers
on reserves are chronically over-stretched.
Many staff must double as addictions
counsellors as they juggle disproportionate
numbers of single-parent cases, said the
source who asked not to be identified.
"They're under-funded and overworked."
Rosalind Prober, president of the
independent children's-rights group Beyond
Borders, is skeptical of any suggestion that
sexual abuse is on the decline.
"There's a great silencing about this crime
that we have not overcome as a society," she
said from Toronto where she was attending an
international police conference on sex
"Children are still silent, they are not
The report released Tuesday shows that the
incidence of all forms of reported child
abuse and neglect in Canada in 2003 was up
125 per cent from 1998, the last time it was
Trocme cautions that the jump in cases isn't
necessarily because more children are being
maltreated, but because of increased