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Canadian Research in Brief: 23rd Edition (October 2010)

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Published: 1 Nov 2010

The articles listed below can be accessed through the corresponding journal website or accessed at a local library or university.

Canadian Research in Brief: 23rd Edition (October 2010)

Daigneault, I., Hebert, M., & McDuff, P. (2009). Men’s and women’s childhood sexual abuse and victimization in adult partner relationships: A study of risk factors. Child Abuse and Neglect, 33(9), 638-647.

This article examined childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and socio-demographic characteristics as risk factors for intimate partner violence (IPV) through secondary data analyses of the 1999 Canadian General Social Survey on victimization. Data were collected using a random digit dial survey of households with telephones in Canada. For the purposes of the present analyses, only those Survey participants who were 18 years or older and were married or living in common law relationships (at the time of the survey or within the past five years of the survey) were included. Chi-square analysis and hierarchical logistic regressions were used. Women reported a higher prevalence of CSA as compared to men, and women also were more likely to report physical and sexual IPV than men. Psychological IPV did not differ for women and men. Women that reported CSA were more likely to also report psychological, physical, and sexual abuse by current or previous intimate partners. For those women that reported CSA certain factors increased the risk of intimate partner violence, namely young age and physical or mental limitations in everyday activities. Men that reported CSA, compared to men that did not report CSA, were more likely to report psychological and physical abuse in their intimate relationships. For men that reported CSA, older age and having a partner at the time of the survey appeared to decrease the likelihood of IPV, whereas the presence of physical or mental limitations and historical childhood physical assault appeared to increase the likelihood of IPV. Overall the results show that among adults in Canada, a history of CSA is associated with a greater risk of victimization within intimate relationships. The authors conclude that specific prevention efforts must be developed targeting women and men that have survived childhood sexual abuse.


Durrant, J., Trocmé, N., Fallon, B., Milne, C., Black, T. (2009). Protection of Children from Physical Maltreatment in Canada: Evaluation of the Supreme Court’s Definition of Reasonable Force. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, 18(1), 64-87.

The Canadian Criminal Code (1985) in section 43 allows parents to physically punish their children according to seven criteria: the punishment is “administered by a biological parent”; that the child is between two and twelve years of age; that the child is capable of learning from the punishment; that the act is minor in nature; that it does not involve an object; it is not coercive; and that “it is not degrading, inhuman or harmful” (p.67).

Durrant et al. evaluated the validity of section 43 by operationalizing six of the seven criteria outlined above and applying the criteria to the 2003 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS-2003). The authors found that the criteria defining section 43 made up the majority of CIS-2003 substantiated child physical maltreatment cases. Commonly the perpetrator of physical maltreatment was a parent, the case involved a child that was between ages two and twelve, and the case involved non minor force involving a weapon. The authors also examined the use of spanking among parents as it related to substantiation of physical maltreatment to find that it was the second best predictor of substantiation. These findings, according to the authors, support the abolishment of legislation in support of physical punishment and illuminate the arbitrary nature of the current limits set out by section 43.


Trocmé, N., Knoke, D., Fallon, B., & MacLaurin, B. (2009). Differentiating between substantiated, suspected, and unsubstantiated maltreatment in Canada. Child Maltreatment, 14(1), 4-16.

The authors discuss the complexities associated with classifying child maltreatment according to substantiation status. Substantiation status is often used as a proxy measure for maltreatment, and can in turn shape the research findings that appear in the literature. Certain jurisdictions and research projects utilize a three-tiered classification system (including substantiated, suspected, and unfounded maltreatment) and others utilize a two-tiered classification system (only including substantiated and unsubstantiated maltreatment). The authors examined data from the 2003 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS-2003; Trocmé et al., 2005), utilizing unweighted data obtained from a national sample excluding Quebec. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted. Certain factors were found to be associated with the decision to classify an investigation as suspected rather than unsubstantiated including referrals made by police, housing risks, uncooperative caregivers, child behavioural issues, caregiver risk factors, and presence of physical/emotional harm to the child. In analysing factors associated with substantiation, the study found that investigations were more likely to be classified as substantiated rather than suspected if the child was physically or emotionally harmed as a result of maltreatment, the referral was made by police, or if there had been a previous substantiated report of maltreatment. The results confirm that in Canada unsubstantiated cases involve situations with fewer risk factors, and they support the use of a three-tiered classification that does not force suspected cases into a substantiated/unsubstantiated dichotomy.

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