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

  • Budget 2019: Liberals add $4.5B for Indigenous services as reconciliation effort continues

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal Liberal government plans to spend $4.5 billion over the next five years to try to narrow the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people — part of a plan to keep reconciliation at the forefront of this fall's campaign narrative. Source
  • Canadian identified as alleged informant in U.S. college admissions scandal

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Morrie Tobin, the Montreal native named in reports as the central figure who exposed an alleged college admissions scam in the United States, was described Tuesday by those who knew him as someone who stood out for his athleticism and drive. Source
  • Tunisian billionaire who fled Canada ahead of 2016 deportation arrested in France

    World News CBC News
    An elusive Tunisian billionaire who disappeared from Canada as he was set to be deported to his homeland in 2016 has resurfaced and is under arrest in France. Belhassen Trabelsi fell off the radar of Canadian authorities three years ago as he was to be returned to Tunisia to face justice. Source
  • Canadian tennis teen Bianca Andreescu is waking up to a new world

    Canada News CBC News
    When you aren't supposed to win, it's hard to know what to do when it happens. Take 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu and her historic win this past weekend at Indian Wells. She is the first wild card to ever capture the event, the most prestigious tournament ever won by a Canadian singles player. Source
  • Amber Alert issued for missing 5-year-old girl in the Toronto-area

    Canada News CTV News
    Police in the Greater Toronto Area have issued an Amber Alert for a missing five-year-old girl who they believe was abducted by her father. York region police officers were called to Armadale Public School in Markham, Ont. Source
  • Amber Alert cancelled after missing girl, 5, found safe in Toronto area

    Canada News CTV News
    Police in the Greater Toronto Area say a five-year-old girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert has been found safe. Police say the girl’s father took her from her classroom at Armadale Public School in Markham, Ont. Source
  • Rare protests erupt against Hamas's 12-year rule over Gaza

    World News CBC News
    Hamas is facing the biggest demonstrations yet against its 12-year rule of the Gaza Strip, with hundreds of Palestinians taking to the streets in recent days to protest the dire living conditions in the blockaded territory. Source
  • New $1B border strategy will get tough on irregular asylum seekers

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA - The Liberal government is signalling its intent to stem the flow of asylum seekers crossing into Canada at unofficial entry points with a new border-enforcement strategy aimed at detecting, intercepting and removing irregular migrants. Source
  • Liberals offer 'modest' help for first-time homebuyers

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- On the eve of a federal election this fall, the Liberal government is looking to help more Canadians buy their first homes by picking up a portion of their mortgage costs and increasing the amount they can borrow from their retirement savings for a down payment. Source
  • Quick-thinking students save school bus after driver collapses

    Canada News CBC News
    A group of students from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School are being heralded as heroes for safely bringing their school bus to a stop and offering first aid after their driver collapsed from a medical emergency. Source