Almost 20 per cent of Canadians 15 years and older say they or their household had experienced at least one crime, as measured by the General Social Survey in 2019. But this number might actually be too low, with sexual assault heavily under-reported.
According to Statistics Canada, surveyed Canadians reported more than eight million incidents of criminal victimization, including sexual assault, robbery, physical assault, break and enter, theft of motor vehicles or parts, theft of household or personal property and vandalism.
Most of these self-reported incidents – 69 per cent – were non-violent in nature, with theft of personal property accounting for more than one-third (37 per cent) of all incidents.
Looking at violent cases, physical assault was the most common form with 46 incidents per 1,000 Canadians, followed by sexual assault (30 incidents per 1,000 population) and robbery (seven per 1,000 population).
“This is similar to police-reported data, which also show that physical assault is the most common type of violent crime and that sexual assault is more common than robbery,” it reads.
Looking at the sociology of crime victims, the report finds that young people, people identifying as a sexual minority, and women faced a higher risk of becoming crime victims.
For example, the rate of sexual assault was more than five times higher among women than men.
And yet, the report notes that most criminal incidents are not reported.
“In 2019, most incidents of victimization were not reported to police, with about three in 10 (29 per cent) coming to the attention of police,” it reads.
Canadians are also more likely to report different types of crimes, as violent incidents remain under-reported relative to incidents involving households, one possible reason being insurance company requirements.
“Of all crimes measured by the GSS, sexual assault had the lowest rate of reporting to police, with (six per cent) of incidents in 2019 having come to the attention of police,” it reads.”This figure is consistent with results from other self-reported surveys conducted both before and after the #MeToo movement.”
Data collection stopped in March 2020, just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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