Across the province, just over half of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 0 and 17. (File photo)
According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Public Security (MSP), the North Shore is the region of Quebec that has recorded the highest rate of sexual offenses in 2021, or 333 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
Since the population of the region is less than 100,000 inhabitants, this rate is lowered to 302 sexual offenses.
This is an increase from 2020 when the rate was 214 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants.
Across the province, slightly more than half of victims of sexual assault are aged 0 to 17.
The coordinator of the Center for Assistance and the Fight against Sexual Assault (CALACS) in Baie -Comeau, Guilaine Levesque, is not surprised by these figures since young people are more aware of reporting.
Coordinator of the Center for Assistance and the Fight against Sexual Assault (CALACS) in Baie-Comeau, Guilaine Levesque
Since 2017, throughout Quebec, the CALACS have been more present with young people, among other things with the national prevention program Empreinte. It's a comprehensive program that addresses consent, disclosure, peer support, myths and prejudices in an original and youth-friendly way, she explains.
According to CALACS, this program should be offered in all schools in the province.
Guilaine Levesque says she is reassured to know that young people speak out in shorter deadlines when the alleged aggressor is a young minor.
It's reassuring when you know that prom season is fast approaching. However, fears of not being believed remain fundamental when the abuser is an adult or someone in authority. These facts remain true, regardless of the age of the victim and the type of sexual assault, says Ms. Levesque.
In all regions of Quebec, rates of sexual offenses have increased compared to 2020. Waves of denunciations on social networks and awareness-raising efforts may explain these increases, according to the director general of the Marie-Vincent Foundation, Stéphanie Gareau.
In all regions of Quebec, rates of sexual offenses have increased compared to 2020 .
Young people are more aware of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. There have also been increases perhaps related to understanding, or knowledge. That's why it's essential to prevent sexual violence, she says.
Gaspésie and the Îles-de-la-Madeleine are located 5th in the province with 184 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, while Bas-Saint-Laurent is slightly below the provincial average with 130 cases.
With information from Camille Lacroix