CHILDREN (YOUNGSTERS AND ADOLESCENTS)
Poverty, a sad reality
About 1 in 10 children (610,000) and their families lived in poverty (2008 LICO after-tax) even before the recession. That’s more than the population of Victoria and Kelowna combined but does not include 1 in 4 children in First Nations communities growing up in poverty.
Among all persons in Canada – those in families, singles and seniors – 1 in 10 lived in poverty. Work is not an assured route out of poverty; 1 in 3 low-income children has a parent who works fulltime throughout the year and almost 400,000 adult full-time workers earn less than $10 per hour.
The majority of low- and modest-income families do not have access to affordable, secure housing or high quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services.
Children of recent immigrants, of Aboriginal identity, in racialized families, in female lone-parent families and those with a disability are at a higher risk of being in poverty.
Low- and modest-income students face steep barriers as the costs of post-secondary education rise
Canada ranks poorly among OECD nations on infant mortality (22 out of 31 nations).
In 2010, the highest rate of food bank use (867,948 individuals) since 1997 was reported. Children and youth are 38% of food bank users in Canada but are only 20% of the population.
Canadian Child Poverty
Living in poverty is defined statistically as any family which lives below the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO). The determination of the point of Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) is established by Statistics Canada. A detailed description of the LICO determination process can be found online at Statistics Canada. Basically the LICO is the point at which an individual or family will spend 20% more than the average individual or family for costs related to housing, closing and food.
In 1989, a resolution to seek to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000 was unanimously passed by the House of Commons.
In 1989, 11.7% of Canadian children were estimated to be living in poverty (ie: in families living below the LICO)
In 2006, 11.3% of Canadian children were living in poverty. The rate reached a high of 18.6% in the year 1996.
Family breakdown greatly increases the likelihood that a child will enter poverty. A Statistics Canada study following the lives of children over the course of two years found that “…if a separation occurred between the two years, the probability of entering low-income rose from 5.7% (where there was no separation) to 67.5% (where there was).
Children in families with incomes under $30,000 were twice as likely to live in dysfunctional family circumstances as children in families with incomes over $60,000
How Does Poverty Affect a Child’s Health?
Low-income children are more likely to have low birth weights, asthma, type 2 diabetes and suffer from malnutrition.
Children living in poverty are 2.5 more times likely than those from wealthier families to have a disability, and are the least likely to access medical and community supports.
Children in low-income working families are unlikely to have benefit plans for prescription drugs, vision and dental care.
Low-income children are more likely to have learning disabilities, emotional difficulties and behavioural problems.
Children who grow up in poverty are, as adults, more likely to experience addictions, mental health difficulties, physical disabilities and premature death.
Low-income children have higher rates of death due to unintentional injuries than other children. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of morbidity and disability in Canada.
Symptoms of Persistent Poverty Syndrome
Recent cross-national research has shown that infant mortality rates are related to national poverty rates. 16 Canada’s infant mortality rate is ranked 22 out of 31 OECD nations. Infant mortality rates among First Nations communities have been decreasing steadily over the past thirty years, yet they are still three to seven times higher than the average in Canada.
Food insecurity is, unfortunately, too common among low-income children and their families; they experience this situation when the quality and/or amount of food in their family is being reduced because of a lack of money. Parents on limited incomes may skip meals to allow their children to have an adequate diet.
Of food bank users, over 50% are families with children. In 2010, 328,000 children used food banks. Children are 38% of food bank users while only 20% of the Canadian population.
Limited food budgets and the lack of fresh produce may lead to poor dietary habits which often result in Type 2 diabetes. Formerly seen only in adults, Type 2 diabetes is increasing in children due to poor dietary habits.
Across Canada, self-identified First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples account for 12% of food bank usage. This has steadily increased over the past three years
Food banks in Canada
867,948 Canadians walked through the front door of a food bank in March 2010 asking for help. That’s the highest level of food bank use on record. There is a 9% change since March 2009 and 38% are children. 11% report employment income, 6% receive Employment Insurance, 51% receive social assistance, 15% receive disability-related income supports and 71% of food banks saw an increase
Over the last two years, food bank use in Canada has risen by 28% – an unprecedented rate of growth. After four consecutive years of decline, demand for food banks has skyrocketed since the 2008-09 recession. This year, every province experienced an increase in the number of individuals requiring help, and nearly three-quarters of all Canadian food banks helped more people than in 2009.
shows that the effects of the recession are still being felt across the country. In March of this year, 80,150 people accessed a food bank for the first time, approximately the same level as 12 months earlier. March is a typical month for food bank use, which means that more than 80,000 people walk through the door of a food bank for the first time every single month.
The need for food assistance increased almost across the spectrum this year: food banks saw more adults, children, and youth; more families with children and more single people; more women and men; more Aboriginal people; more seniors; more people with disabilities.
The picture of those who access food banks has remained remarkably consistent over the years, and 2010 is no different: 38% are children or youth under age 18; 51% of assisted households are families with children, and nearly half of these are two-parent families.
A large percentage of those needing support (40%) are single-person households, many of them counting social assistance as their primary source of income.
Though fewer people with jobs accessed food banks this year, households with income from current or recent employment are, at 17% of the total, still a significant proportion of those helped.
The number of people living with low income in Canada has not dropped below 2.7 million individuals in any year in the current era. Through decades of overall economic growth, the country’s middle class earns no more now than it did in the 1980s, and those in the lowest income group are actually earning less than they did 30 years ago.1 The manufacturing, forestry, mining, agriculture, and fishing industries have all been weakened, and are able to provide a decent living for fewer and fewer Canadians.
Food banks in Quebec
With a significant increase of 12.3% in the number of people assisted by food banks and affiliated food programs from 2009 to 2010, and a major increase of 38% in the number of people helped since 2008 (including meal programs), Quebec remains one of the provinces most affected by food insecurity.
154,364 individuals were assisted since March 2010, which means an increasing about 12% since March 2009. 38% are children, 9% report employment income, 6% receive Employment Insurance, 64% receive social assistance and 5% receive disability-related income supports.
In March 2010, nearly 1,000 food assistance programs, affiliated with 18 regional food banks, helped more than 310,000 people (including 154,000 through grocery programs) to meet their basic food needs. The findings of this year’s Hunger Count survey are a valuable response to the prejudice that exists against those helped by food banks, as they show that no one is immune to low income and hunger. Among those supported by food programs in March 2010, 38% were children and 11.6% were immigrants.
Fifteen percent of assisted households included at least one person who was working or able to work. Regardless of one’s family situation, the difficulties presented by increasingly complex social change can be exacerbated by illness, family separation, the loss of one or more jobs in the same household, a death in the family, or budget difficulties, especially those associated with returning to school.
Member organizations offer a range of different services to support thousands of families. Thirty-nine percent of assisted households are composed of single people, 12% are couples without children, and close to 50% are families with children (of which half are single-parent families).
Effects of Divorce on Children
In the last few years, higher-quality research which has allowed the “meta-analysis” of previously published research has shown the negative effects of divorce on children have been greatly exaggerated. In the past we read that children of divorce suffered from depression, failed in school, and got in trouble with the law. Children with depression and conduct disorders showed indications of those problems pre-divorce because there was parental conflict pre-divorce. Researchers now view conflict, rather than the divorce or residential schedule, as the single most critical determining factor in children’s post-divorce adjustment. The children, who succeed after divorce, have parents who can communicate effectively and work together as parents.
Actually, children’s psychological reactions to their parents’ divorce vary in degree dependent on three factors: (1) the quality of their relationship with each of their parents before the separation, (2) the intensity and duration of the parental conflict, and (3) the parents’ ability to focus on the needs of children in their divorce.
Older studies showed boys had greater social and academic adjustment problems than girls. New evidence indicates that when children have a hard time, boys and girls suffer equally; they just differ in how they suffer. Boys are more externally symptomatic than girls; they act out their anger, frustration and hurt. They may get into trouble in school, fight more with peers and parents. Girls tend to internalize their distress. They may become depressed, develop headaches or stomach aches, and have changes in their eating and sleeping patterns.
A drop in parents’ income often caused by the same income now supporting two households directly affects children over time in terms of proper nutrition, involvement in extracurricular activities, clothing (no more designer jeans and fancy shoes), and school choices. Sometimes a parent who had stayed home with the children is forced into the workplace and the children experience an increase in time in child care.
A child’s continued involvement with both of his or her parents allows for realistic and better balanced future relationships. Children learn how to be in relationship by their relationship with their parents. If they are secure in their relationship with their parents, chances are they will adapt well to various time-sharing schedules and experience security and fulfillment in their intimate relationships in adulthood.
In the typical situation where mothers have custody of the children, fathers who are involved in their children’s lives are also the fathers whose child support is paid and who contribute to extraordinary expenses for a child: things like soccer, music lessons, the prom dress, or a special class trip. One important factor which contributes to the quality and quantity of the involvement of a father in a child’s life is mother’s attitude toward the child’s relationship with father. When fathers leave the marriage and withdraw from their parenting role as well, they report conflicts with the mother as the major reason.
The impact of father or mother loss is not likely to be diminished by the introduction of stepparents. No one can replace Mom or Dad. And no one can take away the pain that a child feels when a parent decides to withdraw from their lives. Before embarking on a new family, encourage clients to do some reading on the common myths of step families. Often parents assume that after the remarriage “we will all live as one big happy family.” Step family relationships need to be negotiated, expectations need to be expressed, roles need to be defined, and realistic goals need to be set.
Most teenagers (and their parents) eventually adjust to divorce and regard it as having been a constructive action, but one-third does not. In those instances, the turbulence of the divorce phase (how adversarial a battle it is), has been shown to play a crucial role in creating unhealthy reactions in affected teenagers.
Joan Kelly, PhD, former president of the Academy of Family Mediators and prominent divorce researcher from California reports that, depending on the strength of the parent-child bond at the time of divorce, the parent-child relationship diminishes over time for children who see their fathers less than 35% of the time. Court-ordered “standard visitation” patterns typically provide less.
Divorce and the mental health of children
Even before a marital breakup, young children of parents heading for divorce tend to develop mental health problems, according to a new study originating from the Research Data Centre program and published recently in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The study found that children whose parents eventually divorce show higher levels of depression, as well as higher levels of anti-social behaviour, than children whose parents remain married.
Parental divorce is an increasingly common experience in childhood, with nearly one in two divorces in Canada involving dependent children.
Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth were used to track children aged four to seven who were living with both parents in 1994. The mental health characteristics of children whose parents remained married were compared to those whose parents had divorced by 1998.
Levels of depression and antisocial behaviour were found to be higher in 1994 among the children whose parents eventually divorced.
Parents who divorced by 1998 reported lower levels of marital satisfaction, and higher levels of depression and family dysfunction when first interviewed in 1994. They also tended to be younger than the parents of families that remained intact.
The study found that the same characteristics associated with parental divorce by 1998 were also associated with higher levels of childhood depression and anti-social behaviour.
Once these family characteristics were taken into account, the differences in mental health at the initial interview between children whose parents divorced and children whose parents remained married were no longer detected. This suggests that it may not necessarily be divorce that is potentially damaging to child mental health.
It also found that, over and above these pre-existing differences, children’s levels of depression tended to increase in the aftermath of divorce. But, for some children in highly dysfunctional families, their levels of anti-social behaviour tended to decrease after the divorce.
Consequences of Divorce
Consequences of divorce are difficult to distinguish from effects of situations closely associated with divorce. Marital conflict, separation, loss or partial loss of one parent, changes in social and financial status, single-parent households, and ongoing legal battles about child support and visitation can ensue. Blending families, which can include a stepparent or two, step-siblings, and children of the new union who are half-siblings, is also part of the extended process of which the divorce is only one isolated event.
The suddenly single parent must shoulder the full burden of parenting while dealing with his or her own feelings of loss and disappointment. Divorce represents a great loss for at least one spouse and frequently leads to personal dysfunction expressed in depression, aggression, somatic complaints, and sexual acting-out behaviors. The dys-function can affect parenting responsibilities, which can be overwhelming. Some parents become overly close, inappropriately elevating the children to the role of companion to replace the lost spouse. Other parents become harsh, distant, and authoritarian as they direct the hostility they feel toward the children, doling out more negative and punitive discipline. Children might be unsupervised for long periods as parents work extended hours or re-enter the realm of dating. Some children are overburdened with household chores and rearing younger siblings. The parents can be so exhausted or so invested in their own situations that they have little left to devote to their children, which can lead to disruptions in affection, discipline, and even the daily household routines, such as meals and bedtimes. A hallmark of parenting after a divorce is that it is erratic and inconsistent.
Financial consequences become clear as separated parents must maintain two households with two sets of expenses on the same income as before the divorce. Despite progress during the past decades, only 50% of single-parent households headed by the mother have child support agreements from the father, and only 50% of those receive the full amounts due. Twenty-five percent of the households with support agreements receive no money whatsoever from the noncustodial parent. Custodial parents might immerse themselves in work or a second job to compensate for the financial shortfall. Children often view this behavior as abandonment.
Economic stress extends outside the home. Children are aware of their economic standing compared with those around them. Those who suddenly have less money for brand-name clothing or the unessential “needs” of the average adolescent feel as though they stick out like beacons. A move from a nicer to a more modest house or neighbor-hood shows everyone that their financial worth has changed.
Parental contact is also a casualty of divorce. Wallerstein and Blakeslee found that an employed mother in a two-parent home is in contact with the children 25 hours a week. After the divorce, this number decreases to 5.5 hours a week. A housewife has her 45 hours a week before the divorce decrease to 11 hours a week after the divorce. The employed father’s hours decrease from 20 hours a week in the two-parent home to 2 hours a week after the divorce.
Youth accused of violent crimes account for nearly one-quarter of youth involved in crime
Over the previous 10 years, youth accused of violent offences and “other” Criminal Code offences, such as mischief, bail violations and disturbing the peace have constituted an increasing proportion of youth apprehended by police.
Among young people, the violent crime rate increased 12% during the same period, and since 1991, it has risen 30%. In comparison, the overall violent crime rate in Canada declined 4% between 1997 and 2006.
By 2006, youth accused of violent offences accounted for nearly one-quarter of all apprehended youth. Much of this increase in the rate of youth violent crime has been driven by an increase in youth involvement in assaults. Youth accused of assault represented nearly 80% of those apprehended for a violent crime in 2006. Most youth apprehended for assault were accused of common assault, the least serious form of this offence.
Keeping in mind that youth-perpetrated homicides are infrequent and that the rates can vary greatly from year to year, one of the largest increases in youth crime in the past decade has been in homicide rates, which have risen 41% since 1997.
Constituting a very small percentage (0.05%) of youth crime, homicides represented less than 1% of all violent crimes in which a weapon was present in 2006. About 44% of homicides committed by youth involved a knife, while 17% involved a firearm.
Overall, 84 young people, 72 boys and 12 girls, were implicated in 54 homicides in 2006. Just over one-half (52%) of homicides in which the accused was a youth involved multiple perpetrators, compared with only 15% of homicides that involved an adult accused.
Police reported evidence of gang involvement in 22% of homicides in which a youth was accused, versus 9% of homicides where adults were accused.
Increase in cocaine and other drugs
Drug-related crimes among young people have climbed dramatically compared with 10 years earlier. In 2006, close to 18,000 youth, or 693 for every 100,000 young people, were accused of drug-related offences, making the rate of drug offences among youth nearly double (+97%) what it was 10 years earlier.
While the vast majority (84%) of youth implicated in drug offences were accused of cannabis-related crimes, the proportion accused of cocaine and other drug offences has more than doubled in 10 years.
About 1 in 10 youth crimes occurred on school property
In 2006, about 1 in 10 youth crimes occurred on school property, with assaults being the most prevalent offences (27%), followed by drug-offences (18%). Weapons were present in about 7% of school crimes with less than 1% of all school crimes involving firearms.
Children and youth as victims of violent crime
Children and youth are over represented as victims of police reported sexual assaults. Although they represent only 21% of the population, 6 out of every 10 sexual assaults reported to police involved a child or youth.
They were also victims of 21% of physical assaults and 17% of other crimes involving violence or the threat of violence reported to police in 2003.
One-fifth of all violent crimes reported to a set of 122 police services in 2003 were committed against children and youth aged 17 and under, according to a new report on young people as victims of violent crime. These violent crimes include sexual and physical assaults as well as other incidents involving violence or the threat of violence such as robbery, uttering threats and extortion.
The report found that the risk of violent victimization for children and youth increases with age and that the perpetrators of violent crimes against children and youth change as children get older. The majority of physical and sexual assaults against children under the age of six were committed by a family member, most often a parent. In contrast, older youth aged 14 to 17 were more likely to be assaulted by a peer or a stranger.
Police data showed that during the 2003 school year children aged 6 to 13 were at the greatest risk of physical assault during the four-hour period between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. About 4 out of every 10 physical assaults occurred during this interval.
In 2003, just under 28,000 physical assaults and over 9,000 sexual assaults against children and youth aged 17 and under were reported to the 122 police services in this study. The majority of these assaults were classified as common assault which do not include the use of a weapon or result in serious injury.
It should be noted that the 122 police services in this study represent 61% of the national volume of crime. As such, the data are not nationally representative.
What are Youth/Street Gangs?
Street gangs are self-formed groups of devoted persons who engage in anti-social and/or profit-driven criminal activity who operate within the community with an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Street gangs pose a serious threat to community safety because of their tendency for violence and a complete lack of concern for innocent bystanders.
The truth about Gang life
· Have a high risk of getting >hurt or killed
· Chances of getting a criminal record are increased
· Involvement in selling illegal drugs and stolen property to obtain money
· Solve problems with violence and intimidation
· Required to complete an initiation (generally with violence) to join a gang
· May have to commit a criminal act to prove themselves
· Gang life is a self destructive lifestyle
· High frequency of drug and alcohol abuse
How do you get out of a Gang?
Getting out of a gang is not easy. The other members of the gang are often long time friends; they hang out in the same places, or even attend the same school. Leaving the gang requires avoiding all those places and leaving friends behind. In addition, once trying to start a new life, the people in the community may still see that person as a gang member and not forget their gang involvement.
Canadian Suicide Statistics
These statistics give easily accessible information regarding the motivations for suicide, rates by age and gender, and the scope of this issue through an estimated ratio of attempted suicides to completed suicides.
Approximately 90% of those who commit suicide are suffering from depression, another mental illness or a substance abuse disorder, which could potentially be diagnosed and treated.
In 1998, in every age group, men had a higher suicide rate than did women. In 1998, the rate for Canadian males aged 10 or older was 23 suicides per 100,000 compared with 6 per 100,000 for females.
Between 2000 and 2004, the number of suicides in Canada in a given year ranged from a high of 3,765 in 2003 to a low of 3,606 in 2000. 3,613 people in Canada died by suicide in 2004.
In Canada, suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 25 to 29 and 40 to 44, and for women aged 30 to 34. It is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24.
For each completed suicide there are 100 attempts, and over 23,000 Canadians are hospitalized each year for a suicide attempt.
Poverty, Welfare and Single Parents
Canadian researchers Finnie and Sweetman suggest in a 2003 study that “consistently, a change in family status from lone parenthood to any other category decreases the probability of moving into low income, in most cases more than halving the rate relative to those who remained single mothers.
8.2 % of couple households with children are in poverty (as measured by the Low Income Cut-Off, LICO).
16% of single father households live below the LICO
32.2% of single mother households live below the LICO (almost four times more likely to be poor than a couple household).
29% of all single parents live below the LICO.
On average across Canada, single-parent families are 8.8 times more likely to depend upon welfare than couple households. Among the provinces, the multiplier ranges from a low of 5.1 in Quebec to a high of 16 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Single-parent households derive more of their income from government transfers than do two-parent households, in both relative and absolute terms. Nationally, the average two-parent household collects $1476 less than the average single parent household in government transfers. In British Columbia this gap is the smallest at $484. It is the highest in Alberta at $2164.
The Changing Canadian Family (2006 Census data)
25.8 % of families with children are single parent families in Canada today
20.7 %of families with children are female lone parent families
5.1 %of families with children are male lone parent families
11.3 % of families with children are cohabiting couples
In most Canadian provinces, married parents remain the norm. 68.6 % of all families are married parent families. In Quebec, cohabitation is more common: 54.5 per cent of Quebec families are married parent families.
72.3 % of families are married parent families in the rest of Canada excluding Quebec Conversely, 28.8 % of families in Quebec live common-law, where the average for the rest of Canada excluding Quebec is 11.7 %
Children with cohabiting parents are 5 times more likely to experience a parental split than kids of married parents. The total divorce rate in Canadian couples today (for those married 30 years ago) is 38.3 per 100 marriages (2003).
Marriage and Stability
Marriage protects against child poverty. There is a correlation between family breakdown and poverty. Long term plans to eradicate poverty should include a discussion of family and marriage. Marriage confers stability on kids. 
Canadian Divorce Statistics
Do 50 per cent of all marriages end in divorce? While divorce rates have increased greatly since the introduction of Divorce Laws in 1968, actual divorce rates have been decreasing in Canada since the 1990’s. The 50 per cent fallacy is false because it compares incompatible numbers.
The crude divorce rate in Canada has decreased (per 100,000 population) from a high of 362.3 in 1987 to 220.7 in 2005.
In Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia, the Yukon and Nunavut the total number of new divorce cases has declined 6 per cent over the four year period ending in 2008/2009.
The percentage of marriages in a given year that will end in divorce before their 30th wedding anniversary has increased slightly from 36.1 per cent in 1998 to 37.9 per cent in 2004.
In 2003, the risk of divorce decreased slowly the longer a couple stayed married beyond three years.
The divorce rate for first marriages is likely lower; “first marriages have a 67% chance of lasting a lifetime.”
“20% of all divorces in Canada are a repeat divorce for at least one of the spouses.”
In 2002, the average age at divorce was 43.1 for men and 40.5 for women.
On average, men who divorced in 2002 were married at the age of 28.9, while women had married at the age of 26.3.
Divorce and women
· Women initiate divorce twice as often as men
· 90% of divorced mothers have custody of their children (even if they did not receive it in court)
· 60% of people under poverty guidelines are divorced women and children
· Single mothers support up to four children on an average after-tax annual income of $12,200
· 65% divorced mothers receive no child support (figure based on all children who could be eligible, including never-married parents, when fathers have custody, and parents without court orders); 75% receive court-ordered child support (and rising since inception of uniform child support guidelines, mandatory garnishment and license renewal suspension)
After divorce, women experience less stress and better adjustment in general than do men. The reasons for this are that women are more likely to notice marital problems and to feel relief when such problems end, women are more likely than men to rely on social support systems and help from others, and women are more likely to experience an increase in self-esteem when they divorce and add new roles to their lives.
Women who work and place their children in child care experience a greater stigma than men in the same position. Men in the same position often attract support and compassion.
Divorce and men
Men are usually confronted with greater emotional adjustment problems than women. The reasons for this are related to the loss of intimacy, the loss of social connection, reduced finances, and the common interruption of the parental role.
Men remarry more quickly than women.
As compared to “deadbeat dads,” men who have shared parenting (joint legal custody), ample time with their children, and an understanding of and direct responsibility for activities and expenses of children stay involved in their children’s lives and are in greater compliance with child support obligations. There is also a greater satisfaction with child support amount when negotiated in mediation. Budgets are prepared, and responsibility divided in a way that parents understand.
Men are initially more negative about divorce than women and devote more energy in attempting to salvage the marriage.
Single Parent Homes in Canada
The number of homes led by a single parent in Canada has been on the rise for the last four decades. Research continually bears out the fact that single parent homes are at an economic disadvantage compared to common-law and married couples, with or without children.
Lone-parent families accounted for 25% of all Canadian families with children in 2004, up from 21% in 1994. Back in 1961, only 11% of families were headed by lone parents
There were about 1,366,400 lone-parent families in 2004 – an increase of 27% in only 10 years
In 2004, Eighty-one per cent of lone-parent families were headed by women
In Canada in 1997, among mothers of preschoolers, 55% of lone mothers and 69% of married mothers were employed. This compares to 85% of lone fathers (these fathers’ resident children are usually older) and to 94% of married fathers
In 2006, the median income for lone income families was $33,000. The median for two parent families was $70,400.
Frequency of contact between separated fathers and their children
The period immediately following separation is crucial for the long-term contact between fathers and their children with whom they no longer live, according to a new study published recently in the Journal of Family Issues. Dads who remained closely involved with their children in the first few months following separation had a much greater chance of remaining so later on, the study showed.
The study, conducted through Statistics Canada’s Research Data Centre program, examined how children’s contact with their “non-resident fathers” evolved over a two-year period. It used data from cycles 1 and 2 of the National Longitudinal Survey on Children and Youth, and focused on children up to the age of 11 who were living with their mother in 1994/1995, the start of the study period.
At that point, almost one-half of children saw their father frequently: 27% saw him at least every week, while 22% saw him every two weeks. Almost one-third saw their father monthly, for holidays only or irregularly. The remainder (19%) had no paternal visits at all, though some had contact by phone or mail.
Two years later, the frequency of paternal visits had changed for about half of the children. Although some saw more of their fathers and some less, there was a pattern. The study showed that fathers who visited their children regularly seldom lost contact, and fathers who were “absent” in 1994/1995 rarely began regular visits afterwards.
Many factors can affect visit frequency. This study focused on a much-debated one among specialists: new family commitments taken on by separated parents.
The majority of fathers and mothers form new unions in the years following separation, often with individuals who also have children from an earlier union. Close to half of these new couples go on to have a child together.
Early research found that fathers who remarried were less involved with non-resident children than those who did not. More recent studies suggest that this reduced contact is due to new paternal responsibilities rather than remarriage as such. Fathers who start second families invest in the children with whom they live at the expense of those with whom they no longer live.
This new study showed that the timing of new unions after separation is important. The earlier separated fathers entered a new union, the less frequently they saw their children later on. In particular, non-resident fathers who began a new union within two months of separation had significantly less contact with children than those who did not.
In other words, new unions reduce visit frequency if they are formed before fathers and children have established the structure of their post-separation relationship. Fathers’ new unions do not so much reduce visitation once established as lead to less contact from the start, which may in turn affect the frequency of contacts in the long term.
As in other research, the study found an even stronger negative link between father-child contact and the mother’s subsequent remarriage.
The findings also supported a strong positive link, already identified in other research, between child support payments and the frequency of visits. Fathers who invest time in their children are also more inclined to invest money and other resources.
Overall, the study suggested that fathers who were involved in their non-resident children’s lives after separation did not abandon them, whatever the family commitments they later took on.
Family violence in Canada
Of the nearly 19 million Canadians who had a current or former spouse in 2009, 6.2% or 1.2 million reported they had been victimized physically or sexually by their partner or spouse during the five years prior to the survey. This proportion was stable from 2004 (6.6%), the last time the victimization survey was conducted, and down from 1999 (7.4%).
A similar proportion of men and women reported experiencing spousal violence during the five years prior to the survey. Among men, 6.0% or about 585,000, encountered spousal violence during this period, compared with 6.4% or 601,000 women.
About 57% of women who had experienced an incident of spousal violence in the five years prior to the survey reported that it had occurred on more than one occasion, as did 40% of men.
Rates of spousal violence were highest among certain segments of the population; in particular younger adults aged 25 to 34, those in common-law relationships and those living in blended families.
Spousal violence was four times more likely to occur between ex-spouses or partners than current spouses or partners. In 2009, 17% of adults who had contact with an ex-spouse or partner in the previous five years reported they had been physically or sexually assaulted by their partner at least once. Among those with a current spouse or partner, 4% were physically or sexually assaulted during the five-year period prior to the survey.
Among the provinces, the proportion of adults who experienced spousal violence by a current or former partner ranged from 4% in Newfoundland and Labrador to 8% in Saskatchewan and Alberta
Females report more serious violence than males
About 22% of spousal violence victims stated that they had been sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or a knife, similar to 2004.
As in previous surveys, women reported more serious forms of spousal violence than men. For example, 34% of females who reported spousal violence on the survey said they had been sexually assaulted, beaten, choked or threatened with a gun or a knife by their partner or ex-partner in the previous five years. This was three times the proportion for men (10%).
As in 2004, 3 in 10 spousal violence victims said they had been injured during the commission of the offence. Women were more than twice as likely as males to state they had been injured. In addition to physical injuries, more than three-quarters of spousal violence victims reported being emotionally affected.
Spousal violence was less likely to be reported to police than in the past. In 2009, 22% of spousal violence victims said the police had learned of the incident, down from 28% in 2004.
Most incidents of spousal violence brought to the attention of police were reported by victims themselves. About 23% of female victims said they had reported the incident to police, compared with 7% of male victims.
The vast majority of victims (89%) said they reported the incidents to police to stop the violence and receive protection. About 49% said they did so out of a sense of duty, while 31% said they wanted their partner arrested and punished. The reasons for choosing to report were similar for both men and women. Of those who reported the victimization to the police, over 6 in 10 were satisfied with the response from police.
Canadian Spousal Abuse Statistics
The primary difficulty in attempting to obtain an accurate picture of spousal abuse in Canada is the reality that a great number of cases of abuse are never reported to police.
Below are statistics which help to provide a glimpse of the scope and nature of spousal abuse in Canada
An estimated 7% of women and 6% of men in a current or previous spousal relationship experienced spousal violence during the five years up to and including 2004.
In 2006, over 38,000 incidents of spousal violence were reported to police across Canada, indicating that spousal violence makes up approximately 15% of all violent incidents.
Most female and male victims of spousal-perpetrated criminal harassment were victimized by an ex-spouse rather than a current spouse (89% and 97%, respectively).
While there are roughly three times as many female victims of reported spousal violence as there are males, one major difference between female and male victims of police-reported spousal violence was that male victims were nearly twice as likely to report incidents of major assault (23%) compared to female victims (13%)
Current spouses were more than twice as likely as ex-spouses to have sustained minor injuries resulting from the violence (57% compared to 27%). This difference may be related to the fact that current spouses were about twice as likely as ex-spouses to report incidents of assault; offences which are more likely to result in injury.
The rate of spousal homicide against females has been between 3 and 5 times higher than the rate for males during the 30-year period from 1977 to 2006 (7 female victims and 3 male victims per million spouses in 2006)
Signs that your child may be involved in a Gang:
1. Dressing differently/same colour or certain clothing brands worn
2. Wearing bandanas, beads, shoelaces, etc. depicting one colour
3. Hanging out with different friends
4. Unexplained source of income/ jewellery
5. Drawing gang symbols on school books
6. Attitude change, especially towards authority
7. Skipping school or poor grades in school
8. Gang style tattoos
9. Unexplained scars or burns
10. Accessing gang information on the Internet
11. Using special hand signs
12. Adopting a nickname
13. Change in language, using special phrases or terms
14. Becoming more private
15. Staying out late
These signs together or alone do not mean your child is involved in a gang. However, parents should be concerned and talk to their children about their activities.
What can parents do when their child belongs to a Gang?
If gang activity begins to control your community parents may lose the most, the wellbeing or even the life of their child. Parents can do a lot to identify, prevent, and reduce gang issues.
· Spend quality time with each of your children. Keep them ACTIVE and INVOLVED in supervised positive community programs
· Talk to them and LISTEN with your full attention.
· Respect your child’s feelings and attitudes and help them develop self-esteem
· Establish rules, set limits, and be consistent, firm and fair in discipline
· Help your children identify with positive role models.
· Know what your children are doing at all times and with whom. Meet their friends. Know what influence these friends have with your child
· Support your child in their schoolwork and special interests. Show your interest by attending parent/teacher nights and communicate with educators regularly.
· Monitor your child’s room and its contents and clothing choices. If youth start dressing in gang-style, they will attract attention from those involved with gangs.
· Educate yourself and be aware of potential gang involvement and be aware of local resources in the community.
The Grand-Parents role
The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is often considered special because it can involve a close relationship across generations. Children in touch with their grandparents learn about the elderly, gain a sense of history, and experience life from the perspective of someone older. At times children, particularly older ones, can offer practical assistance to an elderly grandparent.
In turn, grandparents may enjoy renewed purpose and the youthful enthusiasm of their grandchildren. Grandparents are in a unique position to offer love, advice and a listening ear, while maintaining an objectivity that is often difficult for parents to achieve. Their ability to provide emotional or financial help may come in particularly useful when the parents are experiencing marital problems, separation or divorce, health or disability issues, or other difficult situations.
Impact of divorce/separation on grandparent/ grandchild contact
In the eyes of the grandparents, parental separation and divorce divided the grandchild’s life into two separate spheres: one revolved around the mother and her extended family circle, the other around the father and his extended family. In only two cases (one maternal grandmother and a paternal couple), the adult child’s divorce or separation had not impacted on frequency of contact with grandchildren. In the two cases where frequency of contact remained the same, the grandparents were geographically distant from their grandchild. Both pre- and post-divorce, the contact they had with their grandchildren was infrequent. In all other cases, the grandchild’s ‘division of time’ between the separated parents resulted in either a reduction or an increase (of varying magnitudes) in the frequency of grandparents’ contact with the grandchildren. In virtually all instances the new family arrangements required that grandparents apply greater organization and planning in order to maintain contact. Hence parental separation introduced a degree of complication into the grandparent-grandchild relationship.
Grandparents whose children were the main custodial care were likely to have more contact with grandchildren than those who were not. In the current study mothers tended to be the main custodial care although in three cases the father had been granted main custody. This is an important finding and suggests that in situations of divorce or separation the traditional ‘matrilineal advantage’ cannot be assumed to always persist and instead a ‘custodial advantage’ may play a greater role and influence frequency of grandparent/grandchild contact. The issue of reduced contact-time tended to be raised more by grandparents whose adult child who was not the main custodial parent and therefore had a limited number of hours to spend with their child. During the time allotted the parent frequently wanted to pursue a leisure activity with their child or allow them to catch up with old friends, leaving less time than previously to spend with their grandparents.
Paternal grandparents whose children returned to live with them following divorce or separation had increased contact with grandchildren. This is also an important finding which highlights how the involvement of paternal grandparents may take on greater significance in divorced and separated families, again diluting the importance of the matrilineal advantage in divorced and separated families. A subset of these grandparents mentioned that the relationship with their grandchildren improved post-separation. This was especially the case for those grandparents whose adult children’s relationship with the ex-partner had involved a high degree of conflict. In these instances, the dissolution of the parental relationship permitted the development of a closer relationship between grandparent and grandchild. This was due to the fact that strained relationships pre-separation had resulted in infrequent contact with grandchildren. Post-separation, however, contact increased, in no small part due to the adult child’s co-resident status. Hence these grandparents were able to enjoy a closer relationship with their grandchildren than previously possible.
The age of the adult child at the time of the relationship breakdown also had an important impact on grandparents’ level of involvement with grandchildren following parental separation. With one exception, contact with grandchildren increased in instances where the separated couple were in their teens or early twenties. The need to provide greater care was necessitated by the perceived lack of maturity or parenting skills of the child, factors that in some cases were combined with the adult child’s limited financial resources
Characteristics of the relationship between custodial parent and grandparent
Characteristics of the relationship between the custodial parent and grandparent have a significant impact on grandparent-grandchild contact. In some cases contact with grandchildren is reduced significantly immediately following separation but increases once disputes between the parents had been resolved. In a few cases, however, contact decreases over time. Where contact is reduced, one of the key factors is the acrimonious relationships between the separated couple. Disagreements between the separated couple could result in refusal of access to the grand-child imposed by the custodial parent. Many do not comply with the visitation rights even when formalised through the courts and violated access rights, making it virtually impossible for grandparents to meet grand-children.
While some grandparents are temporarily denied access to their grandchildren as a consequence of acrimony between the separated parents, in most situations contact resumes or increases once relationship grievances subsides. However, some of them do not regain contact with grand-children following the separation or divorce. Grand-parents can experience profound sorrow and grief at the loss of what had been an affectionate and loving relationship. They feel that there is a void in their lives and that the emotions of sadness and loss are indescribable.
Despite the lack of contact with their grandchildren, grandparents made efforts to maintain communication. This could be achieved by the posting of letters, Christmas and birthday cards and birthday requests on the local radio. Some of them are compelled to go incognito and observe their grandchildren from a distance.
While the adage ‘times heals all wounds’ may not be borne out in the lives of grandparents denied contact with their grandchildren, there is, however, a feeling that the urgency to see the grandchildren had subsided with time. Nonetheless, they hope to be reunited with their grandchildren in the future. They anticipated that in adolescence or young adulthood their grandchildren might become curious about their estranged grandparents, questioning the reason for the termination of the relationship and attempt to make contact. Despite holding such a hope, however, there is a realisation that the relationship could never be restored to that of the pre-separation era. The passage of time is such that they believe they would no longer know the grandchild.