Increase in sex assault cases against Quebec minors

"Sexual violence is happening to our youth, and we need to do more," says Mélanie Lemay, part of La Voix Des Jeunes Compte as new data shows an increase in cases involving sexual assault among Quebec minors increased in 2021. Felisha Adam reports.

Recent data by Quebec’s Public Security Ministry shows complaints involving sexual assaults increased in 2021 – especially among youth aged 12 to 17 years of age – with the number doubling since 2016. 

“ We see a lot of young victims in our services in the last three years, we saw a lot more of teenagers.” says  Kelly Laramée, an intervention worker at CALACS Agression Estrie.

In 2021 more than 2,600 youth filed complaints for offences involving sexual assault, twice as much five years earlier when less than 1,200 youth came forward.

Rate of victims of sexual offences

SOURCE: Quebec Public Security Ministry

The data shows those 12 to 14 years of age are the most affected age group with a rate of 1,032 victims per 100,000 people. 

Youth aged 15 to 17 years old are the second most affected group with a rate of over 800 per 100,000 people. But the data noted, a larger percent of assaults are reported to the police less than seven days after it occurred. Something Laramée says is positive news. 

“We see that victims in our services are younger, but they also have the sexual assault that is more recent than before. So what we see is that they don’t wait until they disclose…they know that they can talk about it. They know that they have resources. They know that they don’t have to be a shame or to feel guilty,” she says.

And while the Ministry maintains that the majority of sex offenders are adults, the data shows the rate of alleged perpetrators per 100,000 people is higher among young people. 

 Alleged perpetrators of sexual offences

SOURCE: Quebec Public Security Ministry

Youth aged 12 to 17-year-old, are at over 270 alleged abusers per 100,000 people, while among adults, on average, this rate reaches just over 45. 

Unsurprising for Mélanie Lemay from La Voix Des Jeunes Compte.

“We realize that between half and 80% of the adult assaulters actually started when they were minors. So I think this data shows what we already saw and what we received as testimonies,” Lemay says.

Lanaudière teacher arrested on charges of sexual assault of a minor
Laval Police calling for victims of alleged sex offender to come forward

Laramée adds, the recent data is a sign to do something, “to continue to do some prevention and some awareness. I think that we have like a big red flag to do something.”

Ten per cent of reported sex assaults on minors happened in a school.

When looking at the regions in Quebec with the highest number of reported sex assaults in 2021, the Côte-Nord comes out first with 154,6 cases per 100,000 people.

Montreal is below the Quebec average of 137,2 cases, sitting at 119,4 cases per 100,000 people.

For Lemay she says strict guides within schools are necessary to aid the age group most impacted, calling on Quebec Education Minister Bernard Drainville to act. “We need to actually acknowledge that sexual violence is happening to our youth and that we need to do more.”  

For Laramée she says the different in aid provided to post secondary education compared to that of primary or secondary school leaves no resources for those that need them.

“Primary school and high school, there is no law, there are no procedures, there is nothing for them,” she adds “in University, in College, there is some like policy, there are some things that you can do if you have been sexually assaulted, if you need resources. But in high school and in primary school, we have nothing.”

The office of François Bonnardel, the Quebec Minister of Public Security, said in a statement that “the fight against sexual crimes is a priority” and that they have “implemented several measures to counter and better support victims.”

They continue they are deploying measures based off of recommendations of the special commission on the sexual exploitation of minors, which would see an investment of 150 million dollars to prevent and fight against the increase.


Top Stories

Top Stories