What is Child Abuse?

Types of Abuse

Child abuse is any form of physical, emotional and/or sexual mistreatment or lack of care (neglect) that causes injury or emotional damage to a child or youth.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is an attack on the child’s self-concept and self-worth. It is a pattern of ongoing behaviour by the parent or guardian that seriously interferes with the healthy development or the mental or emotional functioning of the child. Emotional abuse often happens along with other forms of abuse, such as neglect or physical abuse.exposure to family violence in the home.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any act which results in trauma or injury to any part of a child’s body. It is the most visible form of child abuse, and can happen once or many times. These injuries are often the result of unreasonable, severe corporal punishment of a child. Physical abuse is a pattern, if it remains, the pattern often increases in severity.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse is the inappropriate exposure or subjection of a child to sexual contact, activity or behaviour by a parent or guardian. Sexual abuse can include “non-touching” activities and sexual exploitation.  In Alberta, children and youth under the age of 18 who are involved in prostitution are considered to be victims of sexual abuse, and have legislation to protect them.


Neglect is failing to provide age appropriate basic care such as food, clothing, shelter, love and affection, medical and dental care, education, and protection from harm. If the parent or guardian cannot or will not provide these things to a child, it is neglect. While neglect is not always obvious, a pattern of ongoing neglect, or inadequate care, can often be seen.

Child Abuse

an issue that demands our attention and action

1 in 3 Canadians report experiencing some form of child abuse

Children who have been abused are 30% less likely to graduate from high school

Children who have been abused are 4x more likely to be arrested as a juvenile

Children who have been abused are 26x more likely to experience homelessness

Victims of child abuse are 4x more likely to report self-harm or suicidal ideation

72% of individuals in a detox program reported histories of abuse

Children who have been abused have 4x as many contacts with mental health services, as adults

Child abuse costs $2.4 Billion every year in Alberta

Numbers by Gender



Between April 1, 2013 and June 30, 2018, the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre assessed 7,900 infants, children and youth
(average of 125 cases per month)

5% Transgender and Unknown



Ages Served

Less Than 1 Year Old*

1-3 years old

4-7 years old

8-11 years old

12-15 years old

16-17 years old

*In addition, 2,329 infants were assessed through the Alberta Vulnerable Infant Response Team (AVIRT) since April 1, 2013.

Types of abuse experienced

Because the SKCAC assesses ALL cases of sexual abuse, a higher rate of sexual abuse is represented at the SKCAC than is seen in the general population.

**Other includes emotional abuse, medical child abuse and sexual exploitation.


Sexual Abuse


Physical Abuse




Witness of domestic violence



Issues Presented Among Youth aged 12-17

Mental Health

Suicide Ideation/Attempts

Self harm

Substance abuse


Sexualized behaviours