In a world where the news seems to revolve around an ever-present cycle of negative stories, a glimmer of hope emerges from recent data which suggests that instances of child sexual abuse (CSA) in Canada may be on the decline. This article delves into the insights provided by an influential study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, titled “The Decline of Child Sexual Abuse in Canada: Evidence From the 2014 General Social Survey” (DOI: 10.1177/0706743718818417).

Research Overview

The study, conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada and published by Margot M. Shields and colleagues, utilizes the responses of 15,801 males and 18,669 females who participated in the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS). It compares the prevalence of CSA across different age cohorts, focusing on key demographic sub-populations such as males, females, Indigenous peoples, and those living in low-income households.

Key Findings

The article, first authored by Margot M. Shields, alongside Lil Tonmyr and Wendy E. Hovdestad, indicates a decrease in instances of CSA after a post-World War II peak, with evidence suggesting a significant decline since the early 1990s. This decrease is observed across both genders, with stronger evidence found amongst females, and is consistent across various socio-economic backgrounds and irrespective of the perpetrators’ relationship to the victim.


While the decrease in CSA rates is undoubtedly positive, the study underscores the ongoing need for vigilance and sustained preventative efforts. The associated harm from CSA has far-reaching consequences, and thus, continued focus on its eradication remains a critical objective.

Reference to Academic Literature

The article references a systematic review and meta-analysis by Barth et al. (2013), highlighting global trends in CSA, and Canadian context-specific research by Cotter and Beaupré (2014), discussing police-reported sexual offences against children and youth.


The decline in CSA incidents may reflect a combination of increased societal awareness, improved preventive measures, and more effective intervention strategies. Also noteworthy is the increased public attention on CSA brought by advocacy groups, media coverage, and legal reforms which have likely contributed to this downward trend.

Public Health Agency of Canada’s Role

As part of their ongoing monitoring of child maltreatment, the Public Health Agency of Canada has played a vital role in gathering and analyzing data. The research by Shields et al. is a result of their commitment to understanding CSA trends to inform policy and protective services.

Academic Perspectives

Collin-Vézina et al. (2010) provides an analysis of child welfare data, offering some context to the GSS findings, while other cited works like the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect illustrate a broader picture of child maltreatment in Canada.

Continued Challenges

Despite the positive trajectory, CSA remains a significant concern, and there is a general consensus in the referenced academic literature that more needs to be done to support victims and prevent CSA.


1. Child Sexual Abuse Decline Canada
2. General Social Survey CSA
3. CSA Prevention Canada
4. Child Maltreatment Trends
5. Public Health Agency Canada Child Abuse


The research article by Shields et al. presents a data-driven analysis of the decline in CSA within Canada, provided hope and renewed energy to efforts aimed at protecting the nation’s children. That said, true success will only be realized when the numbers don’t just decline, but when CSA is eradicated entirely – a mission for which awareness, education, and policy reform must continue unabated.


1. Barth, J., Bermetz, L., Heim, E., et al. The current prevalence of child sexual abuse worldwide: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Public Health. 2013;58(3):469–483. DOI: 10.1007/s00038-012-0426-1
2. Cotter, A., Beaupré, P. Police-Reported Sexual Offences Against Children and Youth in Canada, 2012. Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series. Ottawa (ON): Statistics Canada; 2014.
3. Collin-Vézina, D., Hélie, S., Trocmé, N. Is child sexual abuse declining in Canada? An analysis of child welfare data. Child Abuse Negl. 2010;34(11):807–812. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.04.003
4. Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect: Major Findings. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2010.
5. Shields, M., Tonmyr, L., Hovdestad, W. Is child sexual abuse declining in Canada? Results from nationally representative retrospective surveys. Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can. 2016;36(11):252–260. DOI: 10.24095/hpcdp.36.11.01