Canada sees decline in all crimes but sexual assault rates

Crime appears to have gone down in Canada -- except when it comes to reports of sex assaults. File/Global News

Overall, crime appears to be falling in Canada, according to a new data released by Stats Canada — except when it comes to sexual assault.

Sexual assault the lone crime with no decline

In 2014, one in five Canadians aged 15 years or older reported being the victim of at least one of the eight crimes measured by the General Social Survey (GSS) in the past 12 months. That’s down from one in four people a decade earlier.

Violent victimization — which includes sexual assault, robbery and physical assault — was reported to be down 28 per cent from 2004.

Household victimization — including breaking and entering, theft of household property and vandalism, and theft of motor vehicles or parts — was reported to be down 42 per cent from 2004.

Thefts of personal property showed a decline of 21 per cent compared with 10 years earlier. Rates of motor vehicle theft, vandalism and robbery dropped most significantly since 2004.

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READ MORE: Alberta judge under review after questioning morals of sex assault complainant

However, sexual assault rates remained stable — “the lone crime measured where there was no decline.”

Violent victimization rate higher for women

The stable rates of reports of sex assaults (with most victims women) combined with the drop of other reported crimes (which tend to mostly involve males) has pushed women ahead of men when it comes to rates of violent victimization.

“Contrary to previous results, women reported a higher violent victimization rate in 2014 than men,” the report states.

Women had rates of 85 incidents per 1,000, versus 67 incidents per 1,000 men.

Aboriginal people at higher risk of violent victimization — especially women

As in the past, aboriginal people as a whole reported higher victimization rates than their non-aboriginal counterparts; among women that difference is “particularly pronounced.”

The numbers are especially alarming when it comes to sexual assaults. In 2014, aboriginal women reported sexual assaults at a rate of 115 per 1,000 women, compared with 35 per 1,000 non-aboriginal women.

READ MORE: How to identify sexual assault, abuse victims

Drug use, binge drinking, mental health linked to higher risk of violent victimization

Youth aged 20-24 reported the highest rate of violent victimization, largely attributed to the tendency of the age group to go out more, and to report using drugs and binge drinking.

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“Age was the most significant factor associated with the risk of violent victimization.”

Those who reported drug use were four times more likely to report violent victimization. Binge drinking also appeared to boost rates of violent victimization.

READ MORE: Canada’s homicide rate down to lowest level since 1966

Other key findings of the report:

  • People who reported having mental health issue or learning disability had victimization rates four times that of those who assessed their own mental health as excellent or very good,
  • Those who suffered abuse in childhood showed a violent victimization rate of more than double that of people who had not been abused during childhood,
  • Manitoba posted the highest rates of victimization among the provinces in 2014,
  • One in seven victims of violent crime reported experiencing symptoms often associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
  • Only one-third of crimes are reported to police, the more serious the incident, the higher the likelihood police were notified, the report states.

Sexual assault again proved to be the exception when it came to rates of reporting crimes.

“Although it was the most serious crime measured by the survey, only five per cent of sexual assaults were reported to the police, a proportion relatively similar to that posted in 2004.”

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