Child abuse is a serious public health issue.

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. It is a horrific crime that many people do not want to think or talk about, and this needs to change.

Children who have been abused are more likely to have adverse physical and mental health issues later in life, such as substance abuse, mental and physical health challenges, and chronic disease.

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.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any act causing trauma or injury to 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, prostitution of children and youth under 18 is considered sexual abuse, and survivors are protected by legislation.


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 is not a new issue.

Child abuse has happened before and is happening here, now, in your neighbourhood—maybe even to someone you know. Help prevent it from happening to someone else.

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

Child abuse survivors 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 March 31, 2019, the CCAC assessed over 8,700 infants, children and youth
(average of 133 cases per month).

1% 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, 2,602 infants were assessed through the Alberta Vulnerable Infant Response Team (AVIRT) since April 1, 2013.

Types of abuse experienced

Because the CCAC assesses ALL cases of sexual abuse, a higher rate of sexual abuse is represented at the CCAC 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