How it Happens
Abuse or neglect of a child can happen in two ways: an act of commission (doing something to a child) or act of omission (not doing something for a child).
An act of commission is specifically when a parent or caregiver harms or is likely to harm a child. For example, striking a child or sexually molesting a child is an act of commission.
An act of abuse or neglect through omission results from a caregiver not taking action to protect a child. For example, allowing a small child to play near a busy street unsupervised or allowing a known sexual offender to be alone with your child could be acts of omission.
Why it Happens
There are many factors contributing to child abuse and neglect and many reasons why children and families become involved with Highland Shores Children’s Aid. Sometimes parents need help in identifying abusive patterns and learning techniques that can keep children safe at home. Other times, parents request assistance due to social and economic factors beyond their control.
As front-line service providers with the legal responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect, Highland Shores Children’s Aid knows, first-hand, the impact of economic uncertainty, plant closures, job loss and family stress on the well-being of children and youth. While poverty, on its own, does not result in child abuse or neglect, research clearly identifies a link between poverty and child abuse, mental health issues and domestic abuse.
Source: Campaign 2000, Report On Child Poverty, 2008
In Ontario in 2013, nearly 50% of all substantiated investigations of child abuse involved exposure to domestic violence. That means children were direct witnesses to physical violence, indirectly exposed to physical violence and/or exposed to emotional violence.
Child abuse or neglect and substance abuse are very closely related. It is estimated that 40 to 80 percent of the three million children who come to the attention of the child welfare systems in Canada each year live in families where the adults struggle with addiction problems, according to numerous surveys of child welfare agencies nationwide*. Approximately one million of these children are confirmed to be abused or neglected. **When parents abuse substances, it more than doubles the risk of exposure to both childhood physical and sexual abuse.
*Source: Walsh, MacMillan, and Jamieson, E. The Relationship between Parental Sustance Abuse and Child Maltreatment: Findings from the Ontario Health Supplement. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal December 2003, 27 (12)p. 1409-1425
Mental health issues are prevalent in 23 percent of mothers and 14 percent of fathers in cases of substantiated child abuse where they are the abusers*. Funding support for mental health and addictions remains low. There are half a million children and youth in Ontario with mental health issues who may suffer from conditions including depression, anxiety, bullying or an eating disorder.
*Source: Ontario Incidence Study; 2003