A new study shows child abuse might be a bit less common on P.E.I. than in the rest of Canada, but the lead researcher says the number is still too high.


Preventing child abuse could prevent mental illness later in life, says University of Manitoba researcher Tracie Afifi. (University of Manitoba)

Tracie Afifi, an associate professor from the University of Manitoba, was the lead researcher on the study. She and her team used Statistics Canada research, including 23,000 interviews (more than 1,000 on P.E.I.) to find the rate of child abuse in Canada and also how it correlates to mental disorders.

The national rate is about 32 per cent, while P.E.I.'s rate is about 29 per cent.

As important as finding the rate of child abuse is, Afifi also stressed strong correlations in the research connecting child abuse and mental illness in later life.

"What we need to be doing, both as a country and also provincially, is looking at ways where we can actually reduce and prevent child abuse from occurring," said Afifi.

"If we are successful in reducing child abuse within the provinces and within Canada as a whole, we may also be successful in reducing mental health outcomes."

Bobbi Jo Flynn, mental health programming lead with Health PEI, said while the prevalence rate for child abuse on the Island is new information, the link to mental and physical illness is not.

Flynn said in mental health and addictions treatment on P.E.I. they deal with the health outcomes of child abuse and neglect in a high proportion of clients.