Connexions Resource Centre
80 Daniel-Johnson St, Gatineau, QC
819-777-3206 •

Observatoire des tout-petits: Half of Children under 6 Victims of Physical Violence at Home

observatoireAccording to the Observatoire des tout-petits’ 2016 Report “Dans quels environnements grandissent les tout-petits québécois?”  half of children under 6 years of age have already been victims of physical violence at home, and almost as many are also victims of repeated psychological violence.  But despite these grim statistics, the environment in which children grow-up has still improved in the last 10 years.


“We have the Dow Jones index, we can measure the performance of all major companies, but no one is able to answer the question: how are Quebec toddlers? It’s crazy, because it’s still the future of Quebec,” stated Fannie Dagenais, Director of the Observatoire.  “There is improvement. We have good news, but we are concerned with some of the data.”  This includes violence, access to adequate housing and food insecurity.

Their survey revealed that nearly half of children aged 6 months to 5 years were victims of a minor violent act perpetrated by an adult in the home, and this within a year’s time-frame.  This included shaking a child of more than 2 years, spanking a child with their bare hands, slapping them on the hand, arm, or leg, or pinching them.

“There is a decline compared to 2004 (56%), but there is still room for improvement. What struck me is that it still one in two children. It’s worrying,” said Dagenais.

Children who are victims of severe physical violence are much smaller in number (4.3%). This includes hitting a child with a hard object such as a belt or stick, for example, or punching, kicking, squeezing their throat, beating a child, throwing them on the floor or hitting them in the face, head or ears.


Among children 6 months to 5 years, 44% have been the subject, again in the same year, of at least three episodes of psychological aggression by an adult at home. Cases are much less likely for children 2 years and less than for those 3 to 5 years of age.  The Report defined psychological aggression as “screaming or yelling at a child, swearing at them, threatening to place them in foster care or to kick them out, threatening to hit them or humiliating them by calling them stupid, lazy or any other name of the same nature.”

One out of five children less than 6 years live in a home that the family cannot afford (the price is equivalent to more than 30% of family income). This represents 73,000 families.

“Immediately, we understand the economic pressure this puts on these families,” said Dagenais. “Because the money that pays for housing cannot be used on other things.”  This directly relates to the 8% of families, with children under 6 years of age, who cannot afford food. The proportion has not changed since 2005.


The proportion of children 5 years of age and under living in a low-income household has decreased during the past few years, from 18.5% in 2004 to 12.9% in 2013.   The proportion of children born to a mother who has not completed high school decreased from 7.9% in 2008 to 5.9% in 2014.   The percentage of employed mothers increased from 73.7% to 77.4% between 2004 and 2015. For single mothers, 61.3% were on the labour market in 2015.

“Research has established that children 0 to 5 years living in poverty have more language difficulties and are more at-risk of encountering academic difficulties when their start school. They are also more likely to develop behavioral or health problems,” explained Dagenais.

Background on Stats:

This Report by l’Observatoire is based on numbers provided by several organizations, including the l’Institut de la statistique du Québec, Statistics Canada, the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MTESS) and the Direction des statistiques sociodémographiques. The Observatoire used most recent data, which varies between 2012 and 2016, according to themes.


Observatoire des tout-petits (2016). Dans quels environnements grandissent les tout-petits québécois ? Portrait 2016. Montréal, Québec : Observatoire des tout-petits.

Article above loosely translated from La Presse Article: