One-third of Canadians experienced child abuse: study

MONTREAL (AFP) - Almost one-third of Canadians experienced physical or sexual abuse at home during childhood, according to a study that warned on Tuesday of a link to mental disorders and suicide.

"From a public health standpoint, these findings highlight the urgent need to make prevention of child abuse a priority in Canada," Tracie Afifi of the University of Manitoba's psychiatry department said with her co-authors.

The researchers looked over data from 23,395 Canadians who participated in a 2012 mental health survey.

According to their study, 32 per cent of adult Canadians experienced child abuse.

Men were more likely to have been abused, and mostly physically abused, while sexual abuse was more common in women.

Even the least severe types of physical abuse - being slapped or "spanked with something hard" - were associated with mental disorders, thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts led to mental problems.

Eating disorders remained associated with only physical abuse, and post-traumatic stress and learning disabilities were linked to sexual abuse, while cases of bipolar disorder were traced back to a parent or guardian exposing themselves to the child.