Canadian troops more likely to have experienced childhood abuse, violence: study

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.

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.

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.

Just Posted

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Most Read