About half of Canadian military personnel exposed to child abuse: study

OTTAWA -- A new study says approximately half of military personnel in Canada begin their service with a history of abuse in their childhood, including corporal punishment, or witnessed domestic violence as children.

See Full Article

The research, conducted by the Department of National Defence and the University of Manitoba, also found that exposure to child abuse and trauma among soldiers is proportionally higher than in the civilian population.

Health specialists were looking to understand the factors driving the series of suicides that has gripped the military.

The Canadian Press reported on the initial findings of the study a year ago after it was presented at a military medical conference, but the research was finalized and published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association - Psychiatry.

The study reports that child abuse exposure was higher in the regular forces -- at 47.7 per cent -- and higher still in reserve forces with 49.4 per cent, compared with 33.1 per cent in the Canadian general population.

"Regular Forces personnel were more likely than the (general population) to have experienced all types of child abuse exposure with the exception of sexual abuse among males," said the report.

"Reserve Forces personnel were more likely than the (general population) to have experienced any physical abuse and exposure to intimate partner violence (with the exception of females for the exposure to intimate partner violence only); sexual abuse was more likely in the reserve Forces compared with the (general population) among females in the higher income category only."

Why almost half of all military personnel in Canada have a history of child abuse exposure is not something the study was able to determine, the authors said.

Significantly, the analysis concludes the link between child abuse exposure and suicide was often "significantly weaker" in military personnel compared to civilians. But trauma early in life combined with witnessing horrors overseas does have an "effect on past-year suicidal ideation and suicide plans."

The report says the findings are significant for both soldiers and civilians, but recommends suicide prevention efforts be aimed at those who've suffered childhood trauma.

Abuse is defined in the report as being kicked, bitten, punched, choked, burned or attacked as youngsters, including sexual violence. It also includes the trauma of having witnessed "intimate partner violence" while growing up.

The new study relies on data in the mental-health portion of the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, which questioned more than 25,000 people, and the 2013 Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey, which is based on responses from more than 8,100 members of the military.

It follows a major study in the U.S. three years ago by the mental-health research branch of the Veterans Administration, Duke University and the University of Alabama. That research concluded that abuse, neglect and other childhood ordeals were major contributors to mental-health problems suffered by soldiers later in life.

In 2014, the Canadian Forces surgeon general Brig.-Gen. Jean-Robert Bernier told a Commons committee that the mental health of soldiers was an issue the military was struggling to understand. He pointed to the extraordinarily high rate of depression among serving members.

The new research may shed more light on that.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Firefighters make progress against California wildfire as wind threatens to stoke flames

    World News CBC News
    Firefighters battling a blaze in a Southern California canyon made some progress toward containment but were up against more high winds and low humidity on Friday, which threatened to stoke the flames that forced thousands to evacuate. Source
  • India accuses Trudeau of encouraging 'extremist activities' with his remarks on farmers' protests

    World News CBC News
    India has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of inciting "extremist activities" and warns that his remarks about farmers' protests could harm relations between the two countries. In a statement issued by the office of India's minister of external affairs today, the Indian government said the Canadian high commissioner was summoned and told that comments by Trudeau, some of his cabinet ministers and MPs raising concerns about New Delhi's response to protesting Indian farmers "constitute an…
  • Palestinians: West Bank teen wounded by Israeli gunfire dies

    World News CTV News
    RAMALLAH, PALESTINIAN TERRITORY -- A 13-year-old Palestinian died on Friday after being shot by Israeli troops during clashes with a stone-throwing crowd in the occupied West Bank, the official Palestinian news agency reported. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Ali Abu Alia was hit in the stomach and died later at a hospital. Source
  • Reports: Mayor of U.K.'s Liverpool arrested in fraud probe

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- The mayor of the English city of Liverpool was arrested Friday over allegations of fraud in building and development contracts, local media said. The Liverpool Echo reported that Joe Anderson was one of five men arrested by detectives as part of an ongoing investigation. Source
  • Toronto, Peel Region toughen COVID-19 rules that would force students to stay home

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Toronto and Peel Region have made a major change to the list of COVID-19 symptoms that would force children to stay home from school and child-care. Starting Dec. 7, Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health will require that all students with one or more symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and get tested for the disease. Source
  • 'They don't give a damn about us': Quebecers with disabilities say they can't get a basic COVID-19 service

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec public health authorities are facing a troubling accusation—that they haven't made it possible for a huge number of citizens to get the most basic COVID-19 care, a test. The province's critics are also furious that it hasn't answered for itself, despite repeated requests, since March. Source
  • Ontario moving three regions into new COVID-19 level, forcing tougher restrictions

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario is moving three regions into new COVID-19 levels starting on Monday, forcing tougher restrictions on businesses and residents in parts of the province. Middlesex-London Health Unit and Thunder Bay District Health Unit will move to Orange-Restrict while Halliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit are moving to Yellow-Protect on Dec. Source
  • Bahrain now 2nd nation to grant Pfizer shot emergency use

    World News CTV News
    DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -- The island kingdom of Bahrain said Friday it has become the second nation in the world to grant an emergency-use authorization for the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. Source
  • NHL considering mid-January start, 56-game season: reports

    Canada News CBC News
    The NHL is now considering a mid-January start date for an abbreviated 56-game regular season, multiple outlets reported Friday. The league and NHL Players' Association discussed multiple options for the upcoming campaign Thursday night. The Jan. Source
  • NHL now focusing on mid-January season start date: reports

    Canada News CBC News
    The NHL is now considering a mid-January start date for an abbreviated 56-game regular season, multiple outlets reported Friday. The league and NHL Players' Association discussed multiple options for the upcoming campaign Thursday night. The Jan. Source